Stuart and I have been talking for over a year about expanding our family in a way more under our control than the "natural" way ie. babies. For whatever reason babies just haven't happened for us and after this amount of time we've learned a lot of lessons about being ok with ourselves, the route our lives take etc. We are mostly ok with the idea of not having children although would absolutely welcome the opportunity.
I've gone through bouts of "lets-get-a-puppy!" and Stuart has been very excited that I finally came around the idea, as I am the anti-puppy. Last week I started to get really sad and the idea of the puppy came up again. Stuart felt the same way and unlike the other times the idea stuck. It stuck hard and seemed to be deeper rooted than the previous times the idea came up. It stuck all week and we decided we'd look about and follow the prompting we felt. We decided to look but wait a couple of months before choosing a puppy.
We worked out every aspect of raising and training and also the choosing of the puppy. We both had to fall in love with it and made a deal not to try and sway the other if they didn't click. We both recognise my ability to be more rational and felt this would play a serious part in our journey in choosing a pup.
On Friday we went to the animal shelter in town to see what they had and to check out the adoption process and vaccine options. We looked about and found little String Bean. I was taken with him, Stuart kind of was too but had a hard time connecting at the shelter at all. We left and he was sad because of the experience - he wanted to take them all home and felt guilty "judging" them with the other looking.
I left thinking Stuart didn't want to look any more which made me sad since on some mothering level I was looking for a little vessel to focus my nurturing, loving instincts on.
On Saturday morning I got up and Stuart was looking for local puppies being sold by owners. I was surprised and super excited. I had felt all along that we'd have a puppy by Monday. We found a selection of breeds, narrowed it down looking at temperament, health issues etc. and both decided on the chihuahua. Perfect. Small, happy, friendly.
We found three sellers. The first one was looking to rehome her puppy for free because of some new rules set by her landlord. Miss Cuddles was a tiny, 5 month old, house broken, vaccinated, black chihuahua who would come with all her supplies and was clearly adored. Stuart called the owner and left a message.
The next seller had a litter with some gorgeous little pups. I text and found out the info we needed. It didn't sit as well as Miss Cuddles so we moved on whilst waiting to see if the call would be returned.
We said a prayer to make sure we were doing the right thing. It felt completely right and meant to be. We asked to be guided in our decision making and to have the strength to make the right choice. We felt calm and like this was the answer - so cheesy and weird but that our family would expand and this would be how, for now.
The last litter had Stuart's heart from the first picture. He was smitten. We waited for the call from Miss Cuddles but it never came so Stuart called this seller. She still had two boys and two girls and we could go over and see them if we wanted. We wanted and we went, we choose and we left with the little bundle snuggled up in Stuart's hoodie in my lap.
Another part of the deal was that Stuart would be responsible for taking her for her vaccines - through the shelter these are cheap. So I pulled out the calendar to start plotting when this would happen. That was when we realised she was much younger than we though. 6 weeks old. I started feeling sick right away knowing that she was too too too young to be away from the other pups. The first months are full of learning from the mumma pup especially. We couldn't provide her the warmth and comfort I felt she needed. She also wasn't drinking from her little bowl and could only manage soft food. She's still a baby.
I did some research and found that puppies that size shouldn't leave the litter until 8-13 weeks. 13 weeks is highly recommended so the puppy can adjust properly and in turn grow up to be better behaved and have less issues when it's grown, such as separation anxiety and some health problems.
Reluctant to bring it up with Stuart I started getting some anxiety myself. Our prayer was answered. I felt complete. This was our little family; Stuart and his girls.
I brought it up and Stuart agreed. She was too young and he was worried too. Selfishly we considered just keeping her but because of how young she is we knew we wouldn't be able to give her what she needed to grow up stable.
He made the call and left a message explaining that we couldn't keep the puppy and it would be best if they could take her back.
I went to bed, sick to my stomach. Stuart stayed up with Roxy and played with her, showed her to the potty pad and made sure she was warm. We had started putting her in her kennel when she was asleep so she could get used to that.
The night was long but it was ok. Stuart was amazing and got up with her when she started crying - every 2 - 3 hours. He'd take her out, take her to her potty pad, to her food, then play with her and snuggle her back to sleep and put her back in her kennel and come to bed.
He got up at 7 and stayed up. I could hear the little mite whining with him so I got up to relieve him. As soon as I was there and we were all together she fell asleep on my lap, and so did Stuart. It was perfect but then the realisation that she needed us both set in. I'm home all day, every day by myself. Stuart's gone from 7am until 6 and then he's studying hard for exams and tests. We don't get that much time together. He wouldn't get time with the puppy at all. Because of this I knew we were making the absolute right choice in sending her home.
I posted about it on facebook and received a lot of advice and suggestions. All were read and appreciated. I know some people would think that she'd be fine after a few nights. She probably would have but she would be even better after a few more weeks with her family. I didn't want her to just get used to me. It wouldn't be fair to keep her. Again that feeling of calm.
Stuart called again and left another message. An hour later the girl called back. With tears in his eyes and shaky voice he arranged to take her back.
And now she's home.
They're still selling the puppies and I don't suspect she'll still be there in 7 weeks when she'll be 13 weeks old. If she is it'll be because they're keeping her. They had named her Floppy and were pretty attached to her.
This weekend has been pretty exciting. It's been the worst and also the best, in the sense that Stuart and I were able to reconnect and bond over a brand new situation. We made two huge choices together and comforted one another over the last one which was to take her back. That experience made it into the top three hardest things we've ever done in our 7 years of marriage.
I turned into a sappy puppy person this weekend, a miracle! I miss her little face, her sticky kisses, and puppy breath. I miss being the three of us.
When I told my dad we were getting a puppy I knew he'd be against it. My family isn't a pet family. The only way I could explain how I felt was to ask how many kids do couples usually have within the first 7 years of marriage? Stuart and I don't have that, we never will because time is always ticking.
We'll get a puppy again and we'll do it right.
We did the right thing and like Stuart pointed out, the right thing seems to be the hardest thing, and this was one of the hardest things we've ever done.
She left a bigger void than the one she filled.