How many kids beg their parents for a puppy? There are so many pets that Olivia, Benjamin and Rebecca have asked for over the years. With many allergies and my not wanting to take care of *another* living thing, Harlan and I politely declined each request. The kids go to school, Harlan went to work (and later dialysis), and I would take care of the house. If I was going to be in charge of one more life, I would likely lose my mind.
If COVID quarantines, lockdowns and an endless number of make-up tutorials on Tik Tok have taught us anything, it is that life is short and being happy can be fleeting. I have felt lonely and stuck in my own head since March of 2020. Three years have passed, and I can pick out bits and pieces that are good, but I also remember the relentless stress and despair.
Post-traumatic stress disorder from the pandemic is real, not just for people who faced COVID or the health care workers who dealt with the relentless illness. The PTSD is also present in those of us who could not be with friends and family and watched in horror as the death toll was climbing. It was impossible to hide this from my children.
Growing up, I had a few different pets. The responsibilities helped me understand the needs of creatures that are dependent on humans. We had all kinds of pets, and the four of us kids took care of them. It wasn’t all fun and games. We had birds, fish, dogs, cats, hamsters, gerbils, mice, rabbits, guinea pigs and for a very, very brief time, we fostered a monkey. We didn’t have all those animals at once, but there were plenty of days when animals outnumbered the humans in the house.
Benjamin, Rebecca and Olivia have lost so much in the past few months. I am trying to find the balance between giving them everything that they want and holding the line and being the strict parent. Our family is lucky to have lots of love and people who have been supportive since my mother died in October, and even more so in December when Harlan died. I am all the kids have now.
In January, I decided we were adopting a dog. Ben acted like a parent. He asked who would take care of the dog when they were at school. I ended up sounding like a kid. I promised to feed, walk and do pet-related chores. I think Olivia and Rebecca were quite amused.
The quest to find our dog began! I cannot believe how many websites and different ways there are to find a dog. In the beginning, we searched for a little dog but found that these dogs were hard to come by. I stopped and pivoted. I knew I wanted to rescue. So many dogs were available, and we decided to check out the dogs others may not have considered.
I was trying to do something for the kids and for me. I wanted to help, and this was driving me. The Mohawk Hudson Humane Society has a great website and is helpful when meeting a potential pet. They made sure that our dog was a good fit for our family.
We met Barnes and fell in love with him. He went to each of us and introduced himself and seemed to fall in love with us. That night we brought him home. There has been so much mourning and sadness in our family in the past few months. The fact that we can give Barnes a loving home and he can give us love has made our lives richer.
There was a shift in my thinking. I planned on a small dog. Barnes thwarted those plans. This joyful puppy is not a small dog. Barnes is a mix of some of the best kinds of dogs and is strong. He thinks that he is a lap dog. A 50-pound lap dog. He acts like all puppies do: enthusiastic, joyful, chewing on stuff and physically awkward. Barnes is loved tremendously.
Olivia, Benjamin and Rebecca have faced some of the most stressful times: death of a grandparent, death of a father and a pandemic. No amount of love that I give will ever make up for the love they have lost. Under a star-filled sky, we fell in love with Barnes. This new friend will love unconditionally, just like a grandmother and a father.