I didn't grow up with dogs. We had fish (that died), rabbits (that died), guinea pigs (that died), gerbils (that developed tumors and died), and cats (that went crazy...and-then died).
Jamey grew up with an assortment of dogs. He has fond memories of them as he was growing up.
I, on the other hand, have always been afraid of dogs (and still am, actually). I'm not sure if I'm repressing traumatic memories of some incident that now escapes me or what but I've always been intimidated by dogs. Even the small ones. As an adult, I've been secretly pleased that my girls are a little afraid of dogs because people willingly put their dogs away when we come over. I'm not proud of this, mind you, because I know how miserable it is to be afraid of them.
But Jamey (and all three kids, actually) thought that we should one day get a dog of our own. I felt selfish denying them even the privilege of a discussion about it so we read up on different breeds and talked about how it might work. It never seemed like quite the right time even though our youngest is six years old and we thought the kids were prime dog-having age.
Oh, and there's this thing I've always said: NO INDOOR PETS. Our pigs live outside, our chickens live outside, our duck lives outside, our bees live outside, and our cat lives outside. I have allowed fish in the past (they've died) and there is a hamster that lives in a cage in the girls' room but I've never touched her nor lifted a finger to care for her. (Shh...I pretend she isn't even there and the girls take good care of her.)
Back to dogs. When we were reading up on breeds, we kept coming back to Vizslas. They appealed to us because they love exercise (Jamey runs), are very loyal, are very clean (they clean themselves like cats), and have very short hair (very little shedding and little doggy smell). They've acquired the nickname "velcro" dogs because they LOVE being with their people. As in, next to them, on top of them, following behind them, etc. Since we're home almost all the time, we felt like we could manage a very social dog. In fact, we wanted a dog that engaged the kids a lot so they'd be invested in it and its care. The breed also reminded us of Jamey's aunt and uncles's German Short-haired Pointer- a dog all of us admire.
But Vizsla puppies are expensive and I had NO interest in raising a puppy at this stage in life anyway. My foot was put down HARD about that. Also, we (okay, I) didn't know how we could trust a grown dog to be safe with our kids and any other little people that come into our house. Our life is busy. The timing never seemed right. The dog discussion was put on the back burner.
Evidently, Someone smelled the discussion simmering. One Friday afternoon a friend posted on facebook that friends of hers were looking for a new home for their dog. Attached was a picture of an adult male Vizsla. As soon as Jamey came home, I showed him the picture (this shows you how much this dog-fearing woman loves her family, no?) and he was soon on the phone with the owners. They were going away for the weekend. Would we like to dog-sit so we could get to know him?
Since I felt it really was the only way we could see what life with a dog might look like and be able to make an informed decision, we. said. yes.
And I was scared to death.
(Part 2 coming soon.)