My husband and I don’t have kids yet. But we are having something of a trial run. That came in the form of our beagle, Gracie. About a year and half ago, I was pretty down. I had lost a job, my parents were living with my husband and I in our two bedroom apartment style condo, and I was trying to decide whether I should keep going to college or drop out and find a full time job. I needed something good to happen in a bad way. So I got it in my head that I wanted a dog. My older sister had been living with us too, with her dog Misty. I had a lot of fun walking Misty and taking her to the fenced dog park down the street, hanging out with the neighborhood dogs. I liked the companionship and affection you get from a dog. And I’d never had a dog of my own. We had them growing up, but they were primarily one of my sister’s or my parents. I had cats, but cats are affectionate on their terms. Dogs love unconditionally. So when my husband got home from work, I started in on him. At first, he resisted, but it didn’t take too much before he relented. So we got out the paper and looked at the ads. We vetoed a few larger breeds—we both agreed we wanted a small dog. Eventually I pointed to an ad for beagle puppies for sale for $90. Adam asked what a beagle looked like, so I pulled up a picture of a beagle pup on the computer. That was all it took. Moments later I was on the phone to the owner, who told me that there were several girl pups and one boy left. Their home was about an hour from my house. But I couldn’t wait until the weekend, so Adam and I had a hasty dinner and got into the car to choose a new member of our family.
It was already getting dark when we got to the little house in a rural area. We knocked on the door and introduced ourselves to the middle aged couple, who led us to the back yard to see the pups. Adam and I knelt on the patio and let the puppies play and explore. There was one that would come up to us, play for a minute, wander away and find her way back again minutes later. She was a tiny thing, tri-colored with brown trimmed black ears and a cold black nose taking up most of the space on her small head. She was playful, but cuddled close too. We looked at each other, knowing that she had chosen us. We paid the couple and got back in the car. The little pup didn’t like the ride at first and she whined a little in my lap. Eventually I zipped her up into my jacket and she settled down to sleep.
Since then, Gracie has become our baby. From potty runs (we don’t have a yard, so my husband has to walk her in the middle of the night) to ruined carpet from frequent puppy accidents, we have learned the responsibilities that we’ll need as parents. We even upgraded to a king sized bed to accommodate her—she’s still small, but she can stretch out pretty far!
Gracie is a total joy. She is sweet and funny and fiercely determined. She can run with the big dogs and hold her own, though she is skittish at first. She’s very smart, learning commands and words much like a toddler does. She has learned to sit and to speak (which for her means that trademark half bark/half howl). She knows some of her toys, including a stuffed hamburger, by name and can fetch them from anywhere in the house on command. She has learned that there are ways to get what she wants too. She learned to jump onto our hips to get to a toy we were holding out of reach. She’s also and award winning mootch—she loves people food. Her best friends include my sister’s dogs Misty and Honey, our neighbor Pat’s toy poodle, Boo, and our cats, especially our all black cat Dobby. Dobby and Gracie wrestle and play fight, leading us to coin the phrase, “Gracie’s munching on the kitty”.
I’ve been told that once you have a baby, you dog goes back to being just a dog. I don’t believe that. Gracie will always be my first baby.