And by that I mean, we'd just gotten to the point where we were like, yes, our kids desperately want a dog, and we love dogs, and perhaps a dog would lower our collective anxiety level. This could be a good idea.
Let's not rush into anything.
I told a friend about our dog idea and she said, "But not an anxious dog."
I had to laugh. No, not an anxious dog. We need a reduction, not an addition.
So I asked around about breeds, because honestly, I know next to nothing. Growing up, we had a lovely purebred Lhasa Apso, a couple sweet purebred Shih Tzus, and one very smart, perfect, amazing Peruvian mutt, after whom my blog is named, rescued from the shelter.
Nick's family had a whole lot of purebred Labradors.
We needed a dog that was small enough, sweet, not overly energetic, and smart enough to train but not so smart that it would be chewing up encyclopedias in boredom.
Also, we were pretty sure we wanted to rescue.
Rescue is a daunting task, because you don't know where a dog is coming from, and there are SO MANY rescue organizations, and so many dogs! I started following a bunch of local rescue organizations on Instagram and Facebook.
Dogs! Dogs! Dogs!
And then my friend Carter, who knows a ton about dogs, and whose husband is a vet, reached out and said that her friend Kitson had posted a plea for puppy fosters by PetConnect Rescue on her page. Maybe this would be a good option for us? (She also sent me this terrific piece on forstering that Kitson wrote for On Parenting.)
It was a Thursday night. Friday I reached out to Kitson, and she suggested I fill out a foster form. Over the weekend they replied that they don't let people without fenced yards take puppies under 6 months, because they haven't had all their shots.
But would we be interested in an older dog?
Yes, we would.
Friends suggested that fostering would be a great way to figure out what we wanted and didn't want in a dog. So I figured we'd foster a few dogs, and see how it went.
On Tuesday I got a call from a volunteer who said that Wanda, a part-Beagle mix, would be arriving Wednesday afternoon, and would we be interested in fostering? I had to ask Nick, who was out of town.
So I called him, and he said he need to think about it, and could he call me back?
The kids were dying to foster her. Nick's main hesitation was that I'm not a morning person, and he can't walk her in the morning because he rows.
I promised I could get up. He said OK.
I called them and said OK. But we couldn't meet the transport at 3:30 because of a doctor's appointment. A foster who lives near the rescue out in Virginia agreed to keep her until we could arrive around 5:00.
Kitson offered to lend me a crate. Wanda came with a collar, harness, and leash.
When Jordan and I got to the volunteer's house, three dogs answered the door, and Jordan was pretty apprehensive.
The woman ushered us past them (they're her dogs) and into the closed-off kitchen, where she was keeping six foster dogs for pickup.
There were three adorable, delicious, puppy-smelling Lab puppies yelping for attention. There was sweet nervous Wanda. And there was Buddy, who was a hairless dog with a large underbite and a fringe around his head. He was alternating between peeing on the floor and trying to hump Wanda.
Jordan took one look at Buddy and said, "What IS THAT?"
I told him it was a dog, but he didn't really believe me.
While this kind woman explained to me what to do, Jordan grew more and more anxious. The puppies kept yipping, and Wanda kept trying to get away from Buddy, who was in hot pursuit.
They bumped into Jordan's legs repeatedly. Occasionally Wanda would have enough, and snarl at Buddy, who would only momentarily be deterred.
Ultimately, Jordan climbed up on the kitchen counter in distress.
I thought perhaps we'd made a mistake. This was too much for my son, who I believed badly needed a dog.
And then we took Wanda outside, and she happily jumped in our car. I handed Jordan the leash, and he sat down and buckled in.
It took us more than an hour to get into DC in rush hour. And Wanda spent that hour snuggled up against Jordan. Occasionally he would giggle and say, "She licked my glasses!" Or, "She's squishing my leg with her foot!"
I kept telling him that she must feel good with him to snuggle up against him like that.
He was overjoyed.
The first couple days I took her on walks, so many walks, and she didn't go to the bathroom outside. And then we came in and she squatted.
She spent those days with her tail tucked so far between her legs that it was curled flat against her stomach.
During our entire walks she just looked around all, "Whoa! What's that? And that? And that?"
And I was like, why doesn't she just pee? All our dogs couldn't wait to pee when they got outside.
Now we have one spot in the park where she will reliably relieve herself. We are now people with dog poop bags in all pockets.
She is a sweetheart, she is a leaner. She is smart and curious. She wants affection more than she wants food.
She doesn't know her name. She does not come when you call her. She doesn't know any commands.
But she is gentle and quiet and her eyes are so very kind.
Initially, she was terrified of Nick. This hurt his feelings. He didn't say so, but I could tell.
The advice we got was for Nick to be the holder of high quality treats. From him she could get a bit of meat or cheese--something coveted.
I tell you, it was magical advice.
Wanda has her challenges and frustrations, but at heart, she is a love.
She arrived in our lives on November 13, the anniversary of the day Nick and I met in 2007. This year, we had considered resuming our tradition of going to the Tabard to celebrate, which we haven't done in several years.
Instead, I drove with Jordan out to Fairfax Station, where we picked up a scared but sweet pup.
As of this writing, 12 days later, I've sent the paperwork and a check, and she's going to be ours.
That was fast? That was fast.