Dog Parents

Caitlin and I got our first dog, Elly, almost four and a half years ago. Shortly after that – once we had gotten accustomed to the daily trauma that was being Elly’s parents – we realized that we actually wanted to have two dogs. Concerns about space, apartment rentals, and money kept us from growing our family to four until this spring when a diligent search led us to Jersey, a one and a half year old pit bull mix.

This is Jersey with…bat ears, I guess.

Jersey is a playful, affectionate, and extremely goofy little girl and we couldn’t have been more happy in our experience with Waggin’ Tails Dog Rescue as they assisted in the adoption process. So when a representative from Waggin’ Tails recently asked us if we would be willing to let Jersey be in the organization’s 2015 promotional calendar, well, how could we say no?

The photo shoot went smoothly – Caitlin was able to control whatever crazy behaviors she may have absorbed from all those hours watching pageant moms on TV (yes, I am familiar with the ‘Gimme the crown, witch!’ meme) and Jersey, as usual, was just happy to be the center of attention. More interesting to me, though, was the human dynamic.

Jersey, presumably due the fact that the general populous isn’t too keen on pit bull mixes at the moment, had been in a foster home for the better part of a year before we adopted her. Her foster parents could not be better people and could not have loved Jersey more. When we had first adopted Jersey, Caitlin made sure to send them at least a few updates about how the pooch was doing, but over time that practice had faded as Jersey became more and more enmeshed in our family. So when we agreed to do the calendar, an invite was also sent out to Jersey’s foster parents so that they could see her again.

This is Jersey with…no ears.

It was a great reunion. Everyone was happy to see everyone. We took turns telling – and laughing at – stories about Jersey and her adoptive/foster dog siblings, both past and present. And as we sat telling stories, just like we do with parents and brothers and sisters, I saw that Jersey, the hub at the center, had made us all a part of a bigger family than any of us had realized. And while there is an admittedly huge difference between our bonds with dogs and our bonds with actual human children, I couldn’t help but feel a little bit like Caitlin and I were adoptive parents bringing our child back to meet her birth parents, like this was an important thing to do, for everyone. Yes, that sounds a bit crazy, but ‘a bit crazy’ is what parenting – whether your child is human or beast – makes us all.

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