Eight years ago on a sunny spring day just like today my husband and I, glowing with newlywed bliss, adopted our adorable nine pound puppy, Levon.
Those first two years our glow period continued. Levon was our baby and our number one priority. We rushed home from work to take him to the dog park, Wiggly Field, every day. He camped with us in the Smokey Mountains, traveled to Memphis, received valentines and Hanukkah presents and he even had a Halloween costume.
Then our son was born and as cliche as it sounds everything changed.
I took him for walks always worried the baby would fall out of the Bjorn as I leaned down to pick up his poop. Play dates became a hassle as he matured to a strong 65 pounds often knocking over toys and newly walking children.
As time moved on and life got busier, he moved to the bottom of the totem pole. He got pretty low down there for a while.
I can bring myself back to the days of nursing an infant, chasing a toddler and listening to him bark at the neighbors over and over and over again. I am ashamed to admit it, but I did consider getting rid of him. Dogs are a lot of work; way more than I anticipated, and unfortunately my younger naive self didn't look at the big picture when bringing him into our lives.
Some days I was sure it was easier the have a baby than a dog. Humans don't need to be taken outside every hour in the middle of night when their stomach hurts. Levon's hair was everywhere, he ate Buzz Lightyear, decapitated Barbie and when the UPS man came, he just about lost it - and so did I.
Somehow time fast forwarded and today Levon is eight years old and the kids are not babies anymore. This morning my canine pal was waiting at the bottom of the stairs for me and today, instead of stepping over him already making breakfast in my mind, I sat on that bottom step and pet behind his ears in that special spot he loves and told him that I am so thrilled he is a part of our family. He protects us when we are home alone and notifies us when our carbon monoxide detector is going off with his super sensitive ears.
Best of all, he has cleaned up every drop of food the kids have thrown/spilled/dropped/regurgitated on the floor for the past six years.
Today is his 8th Birthday and my daughter wanted to walk him to school to meet all her friends. The preschoolers swarmed around him with their little hands all over his body. Levon calmly sat smiling and my daughter was so proud to show off her big "brother."
Tonight we sang "Happy Birthday" and gave him a bone and a $6 dog cookie we couldn't resist from a fancy dog store down the street.
I can't imagine our family without him.
Are you a dog owner? Has it been harder than you imagined?