SHARING OUR DOG
There is a lady who lives close by me, who due to various touching circumstances in both of our lives, has become very close to our family. She is like a mother figure to me; in fact, she looks like she could have been a sister of my mothers’ except that my mom towered over her, at just under 6’ (was the shortest of 10 children). I call this lady Momish. She is part of my chosen family. Together we have weathered the death of her husband, my divorce and the death of my father who lived with me (and so much more).
My momish has wanted a dog for a while. She had one very cute, hypo-allergenic, Terrier puppy, a while ago. He was a feisty puppy who needed a good deal of exercise and excitement, or he was bound to get in to mischief. Being definitely more than she could handle we decided to see if we could take him at our home. There was plenty of excitement and exercise to be had at our home, but even though I have had dogs most all of my life, I do have allergies to them (even the hypo-allergenic type, just much less) and was enjoying a little break from allergies. Disappointingly and surprisingly, EVERYONE in the house was allergic to him! It was quite sad. The breeder that she had purchased him from was very particular about where her puppies were placed and so she offered, for any puppy placement that did not work out, to take the puppy back to her home. So my kids and I took a long slow drive to the farmhouse where Buddy was born and returned him to his mom and siblings.
momish & SoL want a dog
Many years passed and I guess the desire to have a furry companion did not cease and in the meantime, my daughter had been getting the pet dog-itch as well. I felt that taking care of a dog was more than I was up for, as we all know, the parents usually become the new dog owners, not the children. She and her brother had been operating a successful dog walking business for at least three years. This was my solution to getting the urge to own a dog out of their system. Uh..it didn’t work! Now, three of their clients had moved, and the last one passed away. My daughter, a very determined type, began researching hypo-allergenic dogs that had a personality that would fit well with our home. She looked for breeds that her brothers would not feel embarrassed walking (as teenage boys), and sending me texts at work with links to shelters that had dogs that fit her profile and making me sit through PowerPoint presentations of how she planned to care for a dog. The heat was on!
This pressed on for many months and then one day my Momish called me and asked if I would drive with her to a dog and cat rescue convention center about an hour away. She said, she really wanted a dog, but since she did not think she could care for one alone, she was going to get a cat. My first thought was, “Oh, no!” because my allergy to cats is much worse than my allergy to dogs and it is such that I would probably not be able to hang out at her house anymore. Then the thought hit me; could we co-own a dog? Why not; we spent so much time at each other’s homes. I mentioned it to her and she thought it was a great idea.
quick to the convention center
I only partially joking, told her, that we had to get to this three-day convention quickly, as someone might be eyeing our dog! She agreed, I did not tell the children what I was doing and I left to go in search of a black miniature Schnauzer. We got to the convention center and sight was overwhelming. There were over 700 dogs from all over the US and some from out of the US. In another room at the center there were cats as well. I wanted to take each and every dog home. It was so incredibly disheartening to see so many gorgeous dogs without a home.
We began systematically walking up and down the rows and aisles of kennels, this was going to take a long time. We decided with so many dogs, we needed a plan, so we divided up. I was roaming, lost in the rows of kennels, while I guess my Momish had been ringing me on the phone. There was so much barking; I was missing her calls. The next thing I know there is a hand that grabbed me and there was my Momish’s face looking intently at me saying, “I’ve been calling you! Why didn’t you answer? Come on! I found a dog!”. She didn’t find A dog; she found the dog. Except we got back to the kennel and it was gone. Oh, the sadness! I looked at the picture on the kennel and it was truly the most precious dog. We asked where the dog had gone and the man at the kennel, let us know it was being taken out by a family that was interested in her. "What?", we thought. How is that possible? It is THE dog! Momish had stayed with her trying to reach me and then told couple at the kennel that she was going to go to find me. Now she might be gone. The man at the kennel, told us that they were not going to make a decision right away; she had just had a kidney stone operation, so she would not be adopted out today and that we would have a chance to see her. We breathed a sigh of relief.
We paced and chatted with the man who was by the kennels. As we waited for the dog to return, we looked at her kennel card, such an innocent face. It was then that my eyes darted past the picture to the name on the card, it said, “June Bug”. Tears started to well up in my eyes. June Bug, a name I have not heard out here in the East Coast, was a lesser known nickname for my father, given to him by his grandmother. Being of the “crunchy granola”, Californian type, I saw this as a sign. This was not “the dog”; this was OUR dog. I pointed it out to Momish and we were both emotional. The man at the kennel, now most certainly concerned, asked us if we were alright. We relayed the story and he was on board too. The owner of the kennel, his girlfriend, returned with "our" dog and said we could have some time with her, as well. We went outside to a large closed off area of the parking lot and honestly we must have been out there for hours. We could not bear to leave her, nor did we have any desire to continue looking for another dog. We were giggling about what would happen if we ran past the barriers to my car with her. After such a long time of caching away with her, we agreed that we should continue looking, since it was uncertain they would let us adopt here and we may end up leaving without a dog. We slowly returned to the building like give her back to the rescue kennel owner, like kids who had found a $20 bill in the grass, that we just discovered to whom it belonged. I handed the lease over to her and she asked what we thought. I told her we thought that if we could get away with rushing to the car right now and running away with her we would. She asked us about where she would be living. Would she be living in an apartment or a house? Would she have a yard or no? etc. Then she said, “ok, you can have her…”. We were puzzled? “What?” She told us again that she was ours. We both started crying. What a mess we were! The poor lady! Then she told me, that they had just changed her name for the day. The lady who had been fostering her until adoption, was a kindred spirit to me and felt that her previous name had “bad energy” and was preventing her from being adopted. She asked her daughter that is the same age as my daughter, what name she thought would be a good name and her daughter came back with, “June Bug”. Amazing!
In the beginning we switched off every couple of days, so that she could get acclimated. After the first week, we settled in to every 4-5 days. We purchased the same bed, bowl, dog food and toys. We kept relatively the same feeding and walking schedule. All of these things helped her to adjust better. It is great for everyone; she has a loud, busy house to hang out at, with plenty of people to keep her busy and then she has a quieter home to retreat to, where she can get long walks and tons of cuddle time and recover from the craziness. It is helpful to share her, because we never have to worry about vacation time; she will always be at home (one of them) – for her she knows no difference, and for us we never have to worry about kennel time. Medical and grooming bills are split and this is a great help and there is always someone to consult with. There are enough people here to cover for someone being sick, but not for my Momish, so if she is feeling unwell, we take the dog until Momish is better.
Our dog is wily and is being cared for by children, so from time to time there are interested things that occur, like the day she decided a bag of flour was a good thing to eat and greeted me at the door looking like she had gotten into a bag of plaster! Since she has had surgery for kidney stones, she has been on a strict diet and is not to have treats, but I became aware of some strange excitement occurring whenever she would return from the walk. Long story short, I discovered that Momish is like that grandmother, that doesn’t listen to how you don’t want your kids to have soda or cookies and had a larder of forbidden snacks. Over at our house the substitute mailman sometimes leaves the gate open or the kids friends do and our dog gets out. She high tails it over to Momish’s house (a few doors down) and waits for her, on the porch, in silence. I think she figures that everyone must know that she is there and that they will open the door when they are ready. On these occasions we receive a text that says, “Are you missing someone furry?”. We have since remedied this problem. Sometimes the kids have sporting tournaments to go to and they don’t tell me until the last moment, or there are times that Momish is ill and not able to get out. This co-ownership is perfect for our families because someone is always around to love up our dog! I believe this set-up could work well for others, if they could let go of their ideals of perfection and enjoy the love it affords. It has done nothing but drawn our families closer!