Wes rolls around on our bed, which is covered in dog hair. Then he gleefully grasps Lucy’s face in his hands and laughs as she gives him a big kiss. He pats Jake and tells him, “Hiiiiiii!!!” and then rubs his eyes. Within minutes, I have a kid with red hives popping up all over his face. <– This is a fairly common occurrence over the last few months.
I fear we may have a child on the brink of an official diagnosis of allergies. And I fear that our dogs are included in the unknown list of allergens. Of course, this is not confirmed, and we have been told that kids have to be at least 2.5 to get tested for anything, but I am starting to unravel slowly.
I try to sweep/vacuum/dust/whatever as much as possible. We have wood floors in every room. No carpet anywhere except for a couple area rugs. Our house is small, so it’s easy to clean. But days get away from me, and soon the laundry piles up, the sheets need changed and the floors need sweeping again. It’s not an ideal situation for a child with developing allergies and acute asthma (also not diagnosed, yet), which makes everything all the worse.
My dogs – Jake and Lucy – are my companions. I can’t imagine life without them.
Steven, on the other hand, could care less if we had to find new homes for our beloved animals. At least, for a little while. But even though they get on his nerves more often than not, I see glimpses of attachment and – dare I say it – love from time to time.
National Dog Day was a few days ago, and it was also the day I realized that I may eventually have to endure pain that I haven’t experienced before. You see, I ached for a dog of my own as I grew up. My sister had allergies similar to what I suspect of Wesley, and we even had to move our pet cat, Sarah, outdoors. So of course a dog was out of the question. (Plus my dad claims to “hate dogs,” but I don’t fully believe him.)
I had a stuffed animal dog that I cuddled with for ages, probably even up until high school. I clearly remember thinking that I wanted a dog similar to the size of my stuffed animal – one that would cuddle with me a night and fit within my arms as I laid on my side to sleep. I didn’t know what kind of dog would do that, but I would find out. My mom cheerfully replied every time I asked for a dog, “You are most welcome to have a dog of your own when you live on your own.”
As my college graduation date approached, I started my research. I wanted to adopt a dog from a rescue organization. Online compatibility tests always matched me with hounds, and I decided to adopt a retired racing greyhound. I connected with a few Indy rescue organizations. Once I learned that my new job and living environment might not be a good fit for a greyhound, I looked into Whippets and then Italian Greyhounds.
Funny thing is, every book I read and all the sites I visited cautioned new dog owners about Italian Greyhounds. There were many in foster and adoptive care because of high owner surrender. Difficult to train, very clever animals. But I wanted one badly. I passed the tests and home visits and thought I would be giving a home to a gray or blue 5 or 6-year-old girl Iggy. Most dogs in rescue programs are adult, but I didn’t care.
A few weeks later, I received a phone call that a 6-month-old puppy was surrendered as a “failed show pup.” His ears turned up in a funny way, so he couldn’t be bred or shown. The owners had let him roam free on a horse farm, so I was told that he was muscular, a unique color and “cute as a button.” His name was Jake, and could I meet him this week?
I took Steven with me to meet Jake, the puppy. I fell in love, instantly. He wasn’t the blue colored older girl I hoped for, but he was mine. I knew it.
He had a pink nose and a wild, energetic spirit. I left work during my lunch break to let him out of his crate and play with him every day. Since he was crated most of the day (if not he would have trashed the apartment), I felt bad for keeping him crated at night, too. One night I brought him into bed with me, and he climbed right into my arms and fell asleep. He was the dog I day dreamed about as a kid.
Sleeping with my dog has been a nightly occurrence for 7 years now. Sure, he’s too clever for his own good, and I admit he’s a bit of a jerk, but I love him. He was my original companion before Steven and I got married. We spent evenings together, played together and enjoyed the single life together. I love how he buries under blankets and grooms himself for 20 minutes every time he sits down. I love how he jumps into anyone’s lap and makes a new friend. He has tolerated Wesley’s toddlerhood well, and everyone loves him. Seriously, everyone. We can’t go anywhere in public without people pointing and asking questions and wanting to pet Jake. (Poor Lucy is too average.)
I really can’t picture a Shattuck house without Jake. If we have to find a new home for him, I will be heartbroken. He is my dog.
Jake, Jakey, Jake-a-roo
Tags: allergies, dogs, Italian Greyhound, Jake, Lucy
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