When Love is Ruff – Confessions of a Dog Momma
If you know me personally or follow me on social media, you know I love my dog. When James and I finally got settled in our new house (about 2 years ago) and had workplaces that allowed dogs, I popped the question, “Can we get a dog now?”
He wasn’t on board at first. He didn’t grow up having dogs like I did, so he definitely lacked the same affinity for dogs as I had. He threw out every excuse: “Who’s going to watch it when we’re gone?” “How expensive is dog food?” “How expensive are vet visits?” For every question, I had an answer. I wasn’t going to give up on my cause.
Then I had an idea. “What if we foster a dog, first?” James was still skeptical, but I think my enthusiasm was hard to dismiss. And truth be told, I was using fostering as a trick to adopt. Sorry, not sorry. So I reached out to Twin Cities Pet Rescue and said we were interested in being fosters. The foster coordinator asked if we would be open to fostering bully breeds (Pit Bulls, Boxers, Bulldogs, etc). I (we) said yes. I grew up adopting Boxers, so bully breeds weren’t foreign to me. The next day the coordinator sent us a video of Ellie (she was named Oreo then), she had ears that stood straight up and were too big for her head; she looked like she had the energy of a lightning bolt. She had been at animal control for the past month. So, being the emotional dog lover that I am, we went to see Ellie the next night after work. We saw four other dogs while we were there, she was definitely the one we felt a connection to – when you know, you know, am I right?
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So we picked her up the next night, and because she’s a pittie-mix, the rescue wanted her to stay with us for at least a month to have her get acclimated (Ellie had been stray, twice). A month and a half went by, and we got an email, “It’s time to post Ellie!” We were supposed to write her “adopt me” bio. Then I lost it.
There was no way I was going to give her back. In the month and a half we had her, we naturally got attached. I had paid for 6 weeks of obedience classes at Canine Coach (which I would highly recommend), bought two dog beds (one for the kitchen and one for the living room, obviously). I was invested. Despite the fact that James was playing it off like he still wasn’t sure if he wanted the commitment of having a dog, he was in love too. On the plane to see my mom in Hawaii, I had a meltdown. “How can you honestly say you don’t want to keep her?” He was playing the, “I just don’t know if we’re ready yet.” Little did I know, he was covering for the fact that he had bought a monogrammed leather collar for her and was going to give it to me as a Christmas gift as a “Surprise! We’re keeping her!” gift. But the rescue’s email botched the surprise and he had to tell me to prevent the potential end of our relationship. Good choice.
In the year and a half that we’ve had Ellie, we’ve learned so much about ourselves as individuals and as a couple. I’ve watched James go from saying, “She can’t be on the furniture or sleep on the bed” to letting her sleep on his pillow, holding her like a baby and giving her “muzzie kisses,” and letting her lick his dinner plate. I’ve carved out time in my day to take her to the park for a half an hour to chase after tennis balls when prior to Ellie, I couldn’t even take that time for myself. The first winter we had her, we got outside more times that we ever had in the past.
Adopting Ellie has been one of the best decisions we’ve ever made. She has taught us that unconditional love comes in the form of a big eared, 30-pound Pit Bull mix that likes to lick feet and be the little spoon. She doesn’t care if our breath smells bad, if I have a huge zit on my forehead or if James hasn’t showered in a few days. She loves us so damn much, without judgment or expectations (except for two square meals and a bite or two of whatever we’re eating). She tests our patience, like any kid does, by getting into the recycling (totally our fault for leaving it out), or by wanting to play when all we want to do is watch a movie.
Being a dog mom to Ellie has taught me that motherhood comes in many forms. Like any mom, I worry about her when she isn’t feeling well (I cried when we had to give her hydrogen peroxide after she ate a corn cob). I give her baths and clip her nails. I pick up her poops. I wash her blankets (yes, she has her own blankets). It pisses me off when she runs around in the dirt in the backyard, right after she’s had a bath because then we have to give her puppy pedis. She knows when she’s been naughty. She knows when she’s being cute. I love her. We love her so much. She brings so much joy into our lives. Life was good before we adopted Ellie, but it’s even better now that we have her. She makes us laugh, she makes us cry, she makes us better people. I don’t know when (or if) human children will come into the picture for me, but in the meantime, being Ellie’s dog mom is good enough.
Images by Diana Albrecht