When she sees us pull up in our car, she gets on her hind legs and claws at the screen door like she hasn’t seen us in years. She’s absolutely giddy with excitement. I worry that she’s going to slice a hole in the screen, or worse, hurt herself. When the door finally opens, she races down the steps to race around each of our feet and then rolls over for a belly rub.
In return, we can’t wait to see Nittany, our tiny Bichon Frise – Lhasa Apso mixed dog. As we hurried home from our trip, exhausted from our hours-long trip in the car, we reminisced about the day we brought Nittany home and joked about how she’s been for my in-laws, who’ve kept her on this weekend trip. When we pull up, we jump out of the car just as excited to see her.
Who’s got who wrapped around their heart?
In the short seven years since Nittany has come into our lives, she’s managed to worm her way into her hearts. We’re supposedly the human owners in this relationship, but she pretty much has the run of the place.
Who owns who?
We’re supposed to be the ones taking care of her, feeding her, taking her for walks, and letting her out so she can go to the bathroom, but she’s the one taking care of us. At the end of a rough day, Nittany slides up next to me and lays against me. She looks up at me with a loving face that says “it’s okay, tomorrow’s another day.” My wife feeds Nittany or takes her outside in the middle of the night to do her business. Nittany comes back and gently gives her fingers a lick that says “thank you Mom.”
Life took a different turn
The funny thing is that we almost didn’t get a dog. My wife and I both had dogs as kids, but we worried about the hassle and the challenge of bringing something new into our crazy schedule. In addition, we both have a lot of allergy problems.
Our schedule hasn’t slowed down. We’re just as busy. We’re running just as many nights. Nittany has just become a part of it. She’s a family member.
And as far as allergies go, my wife’s have been okay. We probably couldn’t live with many breeds, it would be too much of a problem, but Nittany fits just fine.
The decision that felt right
We ended up getting Nittany on a whim. We had talked and talked about getting a dog. Our kids weren’t getting any younger. We decided that if we were ever going to do it, we needed to act.
Of course, once we started looking for a dog, there was no going back. I’ve come to the conclusion that there are four places you never visit with an undecided mind: an ice cream parlor, candy store, bus station, or a animal rescue shelter. You may walk-in thinking clearly and with an open mind, but Hell or high water, you’re walking out with something, be it an ice cream cone, a piece or two of candy, a bus ticket or a new pet.
We walked out with Nittany.
And it’s been one of the best moves my family has have ever made.