I am weak.
At least five years ago, I laid down the law for our animal-loving daughter, who desperately wanted a dog. We can only have three fuzzy pets at any one time, I said.
I stuck to the rule no matter how pathetically she begged, not because I dislike dogs but because the house is busy enough without another living thing leaving stuff on the floor.
She tried to skirt the rules and obey the letter of the law rather than its spirit by suggesting we get a snake or a bird. No, I said. While not technically fuzzy, they would require the same amount of effort as a fur-bearing critter. Therefore, no dice.
Our third cat McGregor was supposed to be a dog. But we couldn't find a shelter dog that fit our family and couldn't resist the scrawny orange tabby whose force of personality screamed out from the cage he was in.
He's no longer scrawny _ he can see 20 pounds from where he is _ yet he has been a great addition to our house. He's also been the most doggish cat I've ever had, for what it's worth.
The Diva knew that there would be no dog until we were down a cat. Which meant that Trout, our feline senior citizen who has had a series of potentially fatal issues, would be the next to go.
Two years ago, we were told that he might make it six months. Yet, he's still here, despite the Diva asking if he was dead yet every time I took him to the vet. His longevity has been great, since he's a lovely cat, but has meant that her dog dreams have been repeatedly crushed.
Last Christmas we started to think about getting a dog after spending part of the holiday with Sasha the Wonderdog, who is a keeshond owned by college friends of ours. Sasha is one of those well-behaved, good-natured dogs who makes everyone else think that a dog is a jolly thing to have. She's like a canine Hillary Clinton, assuring all that the group she represents can be a force for great good.
What helps is that Sasha is exquisitely trained by my friend, who is the daughter of a military father. Their household ship is tight. Our ship? Not so much. I'm lucky if I can find my pants on any given day.
A sudden realization by both my husband and I that our first baby is almost 10 (10!) coupled with a handful of days with Sasha nudged us ahead.
Soon, the Diva will be more than halfway toward becoming a legal adult, which is, yes, terrifying. Given how fast the last 10 years have gone, she'll be in college by the time this column hits print.
Even sooner, like by the time I finish typing this sentence, she'll be too old to be excited about a dog because she'll be too cool for us. Playing with a pup will come in a distant second to texting her friends about Justin Bieber.
(Although I have recently been informed that the Biebs is no longer the bee's knees. But you get the idea, which is both that I'm terribly uncool and that fame is fickle.)
You can see where this is going, especially once I mention that I won't be teaching this summer and we only have one very small trip out of town planned.
As of last weekend, we have a puppy. Which, if you're counting, makes for four furry things in the house.
Lady Lucy Waddlesworth, or just plain Lucy, is a corgi. While I love shelter dogs and have had a series of shelter cats, I also wanted to know what I was getting myself into with our first family dog. Maybe next time we'll find the right one for us.
Don't worry, shelter fans. The universe punished me for going to a breeder, in that I ripped a giant hole in my gas tank and fuel pump as I was pulling out of her driveway. Well played, universe.
So far, Lucy is fitting in fairly well. Most bodily functions have happened in the backyard. She amuses herself for minutes at a time. She sleeps most of the night.
Having a puppy is a lot like having a baby, yes. But the puppy will grow out of it much faster _ and you can shove them in a crate when you have to leave the house without anyone calling child protective services.
The Diva and Lucy have gotten along like the proverbial peas in the proverbial pod. The same child who balks at cleaning her room picks up poo with almost no complaint. She begs to take her on walks and snuggle with her on the floor. Even the Boy wants to get in on the act.
Will this be short-lived? Probably. See the earlier parenthetical about fickleness.
But that's to be expected because, really, I didn't just get a dog for her; I also got a dog for me. She may not grow into a wonderdog, mind, but she is terribly sweet.
Adrienne Martini is a freelance writer, instructor at the State University College at Oneonta, mom to Maddy and Cory, wife to Scott, and author of "Sweater Quest." Her columns can be found at www.thedailystar.com/parentingimperfect.
I am weak.
- Parenting Imperfect
A Halloween message to my future self
I'm writing this column a few days before Halloween. And I'm writing this mostly for my future self, as a reminder of the lessons learned this particular last week in October.
My brain is losing its connection to eyes, teeth
I'm beginning to have grave doubts about my brain's ability to remember things.
Celebrate small accomplishments of best laid plans
My summer plans always seem so reasonable when I make them in May. Come late-August, I wonder what the heck past-me was thinking.
Vacation was great ... until today
Up until today, our family vacation has gone much better than expected. Today, however, was a high entropy day.
Eight simple goals for summer
After a spastic end to the academic year, summer is finally here.
Optimism of the start of the school year is gone
I've got nothing left to give.
I'm relieved it's not just me
For the last few years, I've been convinced that I'm just harder on things than other people are.
A tactical error in the handoff
My kids are lucky enough to have half of their grandparents within a three-hour drive.
A potentially quiet afternoon interrupted by a dog and a balloon
The kids spent most of Martin Luther King Jr. Day bickering.
The dog is a getting to be an expert at training
This sentence took 20 minutes to type.
Bad things can happen when trends are no longer trendy
When I was a kid, it used to drive me bonkers that my mom didn't know anything about the most important things in my world. She had no idea what a friendship pin was or how you'd make one. She couldn't name any good band, i.e., the ones a pre-teen would listen to like Duran Duran or Wham. And she didn't find Robert Downey Jr. nearly as dreamy as I did.
Letting go can be more difficult for me than the kids
And so we enter the silly season, the one in which all of us run around like chickens without noggins.
Despite all the fighting, sometimes the kids get along
Going to church about much more than religious talk
After a good five years of fully intending to go to church but never quite making it out of the house on a Sunday morning, we've been attending since the beginning of the year.
Lessons learned from puppy a lot like those from kids
And so our first summer with a dog closes. Lessons have been learned, as I suspected they might. In case you are pondering a similar addition to your house, here are a few of them.
Summer and the wonderment of caterpillars, butterflies
Beware the Zombie Squirrel
This is a story about Zombie Squirrel.
Strangest days are right before the school year ends
This month's column may be more scattered than usual. As I write this, we're in that limbo between when I'm off for the summer and when my kids are. It's one of the strangest times of the year.
A parenting phobia that will leave you scratching your head
One of my two worst parent phobias came to pass last month. Even simply typing its name makes my head all swimmy. The Diva, as happens to kids her age, succumbed to lice, passed along by one of her fellow fourth-graders.
- A Halloween message to my future self