Friday, February 1, 2013

Side by Side

White and speckled with spots.  One with black ears and one with brown.  At first glance, you might think our dogs are biological siblings.  But upon a closer look you can tell they are both mutts, but from different breeds.

One is a mutt from the animal shelter in Fort Worth, TX.  The quietest little guy in the pound; it was love at first sight for Jeff.  It was early February 2009 and Jeff and I were counting down the days, weeks, and months until our big day.  We were your typical annoying, gitty, engaged couple.  We decided to have a longer engagement, so for the most part, wedding planning never did get too stressful for either of us - although we were living in one state and having the wedding in another - thanks to helpful family, friends, and a wedding coordinator, our stress levels stayed well below "crazy."  Anyway, I finally gave in when Jeff mentioned for the 1000th time, "I want a dog."  Since we weren't living together at that time, our dog would be living with him until I moved in, and so there was only so much I could say.  Not that I didn't want a dog.  But as I've learned over these 3+ years, Jeff is the dreamer and I am the realist.  Jeff says, "it'll be fun!" when I say, "but we have to remember how this is going to affect our lives, time, and money."  It's a great balance.

Needless to say, before long, I found myself walking along the aisles of the animal shelter, row-by-row of dogs - big ones, little ones, big-eared yappy mutts, and gentle-eyed golden retrievers.  Creations of God who either never had a home, ran away from home, or got left behind from former owners for one reason or another.  Each one of them longing for a place to be.  It was so loud in that place that we could hardly hear ourselves talk.  We had a few ones picked out as our "favorites."  And then we got to the end of the last row.  Laying down on his stomach, was a medium sized white pup with black ears and a black patch stretching just over and above his right eye.  Soft black spots faintly dotted his coat.  He just looked at us.  He did not bark, nor did he get up to lick our fingers through the gate that separated him from the world.  Jeff looked at me with that excited "It's the day before Christmas" sparkle in his eye that he gets when he wants something (as well as upon any mention of food).  "I want him," he says.  I looked from Jeff, to the dog, to the dog's info card - Bingo, lab mix, 6 months, 30 lbs, $85 - and back to Jeff.   "You want him?"  For some reason this was not the kind of dog I thought Jeff would want.  "Let's at least ask to get him out and play with him."  When a worker got the keys to let Bingo out of his gated, concrete home, we kneeled down to meet him.  He immediately put his front paws up on Jeff's shoulders and let us both scratch behind his ears.  He never barked a word and he never got overly excited. He was just happy to meet us.  I said, "let's go home and talk about it."  The next day we were back and adopting the sweetest pup in the pound, Bingo, who we quickly renamed, Patch.  It was the start of our family (along with the cats).

Fast forward 4 years down the's only a couple of months since we moved to Kentucky and settled into our new home in the semi-country.  We have just under an acre of yard and cows in the field behind us.  It was only a matter of time before I would see that "It's the day before Christmas" look in Jeff's eye.  This time the sparkle spread across his entire face - Patch needs a buddy.  We had had this conversation many times before, and both of us decided we needed to be settled before we got a second dog.  I suppose we were as settled as we were going to get!  Again, it's not that I didn't want another dog - I've always wanted Patch to have a playmate - but another dog meant more hair to vacuum, more paws to clean, and more food to buy.  I was hesitant.  But off we went anyway to Barren River Animal Welfare Association (BRAWA) one day in late January 2012.  (It doesn't help that our church secretary is an active volunteer and advocate at BRAWA - along with about 2/3 of our congregation!)  The next day we brought home a sister for Patch - a bouncy, hyper, goofy German short-hair pointer mix - Pepper.

It took a little while for the two P's to get used to each other.  Patch made sure to assert his dominance and Pepper was just elated to have a home and a friend.  There were times when their play turned to anger, and I would wonder if we made a mistake.  But it didn't last long.  In a month or so, Pepper finished growing and she turned out to be just a touch taller, longer, and bigger than her older brother.  (But Patch can still pin her to the ground in some pretty impressive wrestling moves!)  Before long, they learned how to share the couch, share their food, and share our love.  They learned that it's only more fun when both of them go outside together.  And that it's definitely more exciting to aggravate the cats as a team.  They live life together, side by side.  We've become a unit...and our house is constantly covered in white hair....  But it's totally worth every second.

I've become the kind of person who realizes that my dogs have become my children.  And until Jeff & I have actual kids of our own, everyone will have to settle for pictures of the dogs...many pictures of the dogs.  (To our parents, just be patient! - and for now, enjoy licks over baby kisses!)

This time of year marks our 4th anniversary with Patch and our 1-year anniversary with Pepper.

Love comes in many forms.  I am forever grateful for the love between humans and canines.  I cannot say it enough - "I love these pups!"

2009 - The day we met Patch.

2012 - Bringing Pepper home!

Feb 1, 2012 - "Hmm...I'm not sure how I feel about this..."

Two P's in a pod....

Feb 1, 2013 - Side by side...

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