'To lose one parent may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.'
I wonder if the same applies to dogs, because unbelievable as it may seem, we as a family, have lost two dogs in one short year.
The boys saw it happen and they took it very hard. We just hoped that in the long run, they would learn lessons about grief and dying and perhaps ultimately, living.
So four months later, and not wishing this sorry experience of dog ownership to be their sole and lasting one, we acquired Dora, a lovely white four year old Bichon frise cross, whose owner had just started college and with her parents working , this meant Dora was alone for most of the day.
At first she seemed perfect- no horrid housetraining , no manky dog breath (unlike Arthur- maybe its a boy thing?), very little shedding AND she kept herself very clean. Being four and past the puppy
stage, she wasn't completely mental either- she didn't obsessively steal shoes, chew everything in sight and roll ecstatically in slurry. It was all good.
But then gradually problems emerged. Despite putting her bed in a 'quiet' utility room, our house must have been noisy and mad and strange to her. Clearly unused to children, she quickly developed a preference for Himself, and worryingly, occasionally growled when Luke petted/pulled/ tortured her.
After that, I never left them alone together, just in case. I"m pretty sure I put my own bonding with Dora on hold at this point too.
There was the manic barking when anyone approached the house, which got old really fast, but it was when she snapped at two neighbours' children, simply because she hated their bicycles that we made the tough decision that we had to let her go- there are some risks just not worth taking.
Thankfully her old owner was happy to take her back, and changed circumstances meant that Dora would no longer be left alone all day.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing and I suppose that looking back, we should have known that an adult dog would find it very difficult to adapt to a much noisy, busy household, especially after growing up in a quiet house, with no children. We should have known, and we didn't, but now we do.
So what now? Speaking for myself, I feel a bit drained after trying to bond and adapt to two different dogs over the course of one year, and honestly, if it were up to me, I'd draw a big old line under the whole dog thing and tick that box in my head. You see, it feels as if we've had all the emotional investment, teething problems and settling in issues of getting a dog, TWICE, without ever reaching a plateau of calm predictability with either. If I'm honest I even feel a little cheated.
And yet our family dog experience won't end there, it just can't and I know this. The older four wept bitterly and railed against the difficult decision we had to make last week, cajoling and begging, unable to understand that really, there was no decision to make. It was very hard to say goodbye, aided only by the fact that deep down we all knew Dora would be more settled and happier for it, and really, she was going home.
So now here we are, back to square one as a dog free household once more, except this time we're a little more experienced and a little less blasé about it all. The leads and the chew toys, the bowls and the dog bed have quietly been moved into an old cardboard box in the garage....at least for now.