by Lois Cooper
My children have held my broken promise of getting them a pet over my head for years. So when my daughter recently expressed interest in getting a dog, I told her that I would help pay for the dog. Maybe I could finally redeem myself for a slight committed during their childhood.
We found out just how expensive those cute little dogs are and opted for a puppy from a shelter. Adopting a pet requires a home inspection and there are also fees involved in the process. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal (ASPCA) estimates that over 3.3 million dogs enter US animal shelters yearly. I was happy to support my daughter in her effort to get a rescue dog.
We went on a Sunday after church to pick up the puppy who until then was only known by her adorable photograph. A group of adoptive pet parents had assembled in the yard of the shelter in upper northwest and were waiting for their dogs and puppies to arrive from Stafford Virginia. Some were there to foster pets but the majority were anxiously awaiting for the new member of their family arrive. Our puppy whose mother is now a service dog was also present at the adoption. After meeting and interacting with the mother and then to turn around and take her baby away felt strange. There was some guilt but once we saw her it was love at first sight!
My daughter named her Mia, she was only seven weeks old. We all gushed and loved on my grand-dog as we left the shelter and headed off to her new home. My daughter soon found out that there was more to having a pet than looking hip and going for walks. It’s like having a child. You have to nurture and take care of them in the mornings and rush home in the evenings to make sure they are fed, loved and exercised. With a puppy there is that extra step of getting them trained so they know when it is bathroom time and where that function takes place. That learning curve is the challenge. I encouraged my daughter to have patience and think of Mia in the same way you would a child being potty-trained, accidents happen on the way to independence.
My daughter stopped by one day and informed me she had a work conference and was concerned about what she going to do about Mia. I told her I would help pay to board her but it turned out to be a little too expensive at the time. One local place offered a bed and biscuit service at $75.00 a day. I decided to step up and spend time with my grand-dog while my daughter was away. Granted it had been a moment since I had to be responsible for anything, much less an infant, because that’s what a puppy is a baby. I got assistance from a young girl in my condo who would check in on Mia during the day and take her for walks so she wouldn’t be alone all day. (That was a life-saver and I want give a special shout out to Sarah.)
Dog-sitting Mia changed my daily routine and it reminded me of how vulnerable pets and children are. They are totally dependent on you for their survival. I am an early riser but that doesn’t mean I leave my house early. I like to take my time in the mornings.
Now, I was out walking Mia around 7am every day. The morning exercise turned out to be good for both of us. I will always remember our walk in the park and the freedom and sense of excitement she had. Mia had her own little purple blanket which I used to cover a portion of my sofa so she could relax and look out the window. There were a few accidents with bathroom functions but overall she did well.
I have a large mirror that she liked to play with her reflection in. When I was at home she would follow me from room to room wherever I went. Actually it was quite entertaining watching her play and frolic about. One real issue we had is when Mia followed me into my room and took off with one of my favorite easy walker shoes and was having a ball chewing on it when I found her.
Needless to say, I kept a close eye on her from that point on.
At the end of her stay, I was glad that I had stepped-up to help my daughter. Mia reminded me of the love and humanity that still lives inside of me. She has come over to visit a couple of times since then, as when I dog-sat when my daughter wanted to go to Walmart. Mia immediately went and jumped on the sofa in the spot she use to relax and look out the window, but there was no blanket laid out. I grinned and told her to get down. I have to pick up some supplies for her like toys and nice blanket she can snuggle on when she comes to grandma’s house. I love Mia and I thank her for the love she shared with me.
I also want to thank the Petworth community who responded when they saw an animal not being cared for. The direct action from Petworth residents prompted the DC Council to pass legislation nick-named “Momma’s Law” to create stronger animal-welfare legislation. Councilmember Brandon Todd said it best: “We have to protect our four-legged friends who cannot protect themselves.”