tail of the dog

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as I sit here, my boys are socializing with their new (and first) dog. Cali’s a rescue, and being part Australian Cattle Dog and part Australian Shepherd means she’s a full-on Aussie. and they’re full-on hooked. she’s figuring them out as they throw sticks and bounce balls and talk in high voices to get her attention. she drops herself to the pavement as they brush her back and pet her head. we’ve had a few moments of weirdness as she has struggled a bit to get acquainted with Little Man, who is only 8 and very small for his size. she has growled at him a few times and that’s making his transition to dog ownership a bit more timid at times than we’d hoped. but they are warming to each other. as was to be expected. with time. after all, she’s only been here a couple of days. and we all have some getting used to. that’s for sure. for me, this has been a long-time coming. the boys always wanted a dog, and being from a family of dog lovers and dog owners (and for a short time, dog breeders) I always felt the boys should have a dog. but their dad never wanted a dog in the house and I didn’t want a dog who had to live outside all the time. so there would be no dog. then there was a divorce and a tiny apartment. those wishes and promises to one day have a dog of our own were postponed, what seemed like over and over. soon became someday. someday became maybe when we get a house. when we rented a house, it became “they want too much money for us to have pets.” a call to the landlord revealed it wasn’t that much. it could happen. and suddenly I felt guilty, as if all these years of empty promises needed to become something real. something furry. so we visited shelters. we thought and talked about it. but it only took one visit to Cali to know she was the one. that is until we got her home and I suddenly felt torn that there was a hairy beast walking around my house, sniffing my underwear and knocking things over on the table. it was hard to admit that it was bothering me that she was going to make everything different. it was like bringing a baby home. we had to safety-proof the house. raisins and nuts and cranberries and chocolate moved from the shelves in the kitchen to a higher, safer location behind closed doors. bathroom doors are closed. we’ve had at least one person at home with her at all times. she wants up on our bed. we’ve shut her out of the bedroom. it just feels … weird. I haven’t lived with a dog in the house since I left my parents’ house in 1991. and it’s not the same, since at that time I wasn’t in charge of anything. I was a kid, or at least pretended to be one when it came time to having any serious responsibilities. like taking care of a dog. so now, our family of 5 has become family of 6 and this young, one-year-old nippy, herding, high-energy dog is going to change everything. from here on out, we have a baby in the house. and as much as I love her, I’d be lying to you if I said it weren’t a huge adjustment already. in it for the long haul, yes. but a bit worried and concerned as to how it all plays out, for sure. she’s awesome. today she caught her first disc, though possibly by accident. she shakes hands and sits and has found her voice. her tail isn’t between her legs as often. and she just laid down on her back for Little Man to scratch her belly. she’s changing in front of our eyes. as I type this. they all just left to take her for a walk, something she likes until a loud car passes by. she’s learning. we’re learning. and I’m going to try to take it all in as I see the smiles she’s bringing to the boys’ faces. while they are gone, I’m going to try (again) to figure out what smells like poop.

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