[The following column was printed in The Forum, North Dakota’s largest daily newspaper, on June 21, 2011. Reprinted with permission.]
Parenting Perspectives: Snickers the Puppy a Sweet Addition
By Roxane B. Salonen, The Forum
Ironic that I, the long-ago girl who dreamed of someday owning a puppy store, would be the staunch hold-out.
For three solid years my family has been on a fervent crusade to turn our five-kid, two-cat home into a canine-comfy casa.
“Absolutely not!” I said repeatedly, unquestionably.
Stepping back 35 years in time, you’d never have guessed it. I was growing up in a reservation town without a leash law. The world was my puppy store, and I had my pick.
Marlene, Tammy, Salty and Sheba were strays that found their way into and out of my life and heart. (I never had a chance to name the rabid hound who sauntered into our yard one day, so quickly did the cops come once Mom saw the steady stream of saliva running from its mouth.) Eventually the “real” dogs – Tickles, Midnight and Corky – arrived, all hand-selected from farms my father had visited during his work for the county.
It was an environment replete with canine calls – the yelping of dogs nudged by car tires, the territorial growling of springtime packs, the screeching of mutts weary from the monthlong run of fireworks.
In that canine-laden culture, I was mostly content. Though frightened by the roughest of them, the softer ones had me enraptured.
This love continued through early marriage. But when kids arrived and our yellow Lab became, well, just a pet, I began questioning whether dogs and family were inseparable.
I was up to my mother eyeballs in dirty diapers, after all. The daily topping-off of doggy-doo had become excretion overload. So after Frasier died when our middle child was a baby, we didn’t seek a replacement.
Now, after years of canine-free adamancy, I’m undergoing reversion.
The blame goes to said middle child. On the cusp between childhood and adolescence, she begged once more for a puppy, offering to forgo her 11th birthday party in exchange. And in a moment of maternal weakness, foreseeing future years of boys replacing pets, I caved.
After some careful searching, an Adopt-a-Pet puppy pranced into our lives and has taken up residence.
I have yet to shake all my mother-guardedness, concerned as I am about the added responsibility for which I’ve just signed up. But watching this 3-month-old cutie turn somersaults in our backyard grass – not to mention the kids’ glee the other day when he got “stuck” in a pillow and ran around haphazardly like a pillow with legs – I remembered a few things I’d forgotten in these years of practiced practicality.
It’s OK to let go and be a little goofy. Living in the moment is underrated. And unconditional love is the best.
Snickers, welcome to the Salonen household. (Thank goodness we decided to wait on installing new carpet.)
Roxane B. Salonen works as a freelance writer and children’s author in Fargo, where she and her husband, Troy, parent five children.