Fur Babies

I always said I wasn’t responsible enough for a dog until I proved myself with a baby- coming straight home everyday after work, arranging daycare, having a small creature totally reliant on me. When Mabel died and I made connections in the babyloss world, especially with those who had no living children, I learned many of them had “fur babies.” They poured their built up love and caring into an animal that they had or brought home after they lost their babies. At first I didn’t want one- my baby died and replacing her with an animal was not going to make it any better.  In fact, getting a dog would make her death more real. I wouldn’t have minded it as a temporary thing- caring for a snuggly puppy in the first months of my grief, while home alone, but I would want to give it up when I returned to work.  The idea of doing all I should have been doing (rushing home from work, middle of the night awakenings) for a dog instead of a baby seemed too painful.  But as the months rolled by and the house remained empty and quiet, I started to have second thoughts.

Chris has always been a dog lover. He’ll the get on the floor and wrestle with your dog. He knows how to talk to them and make them stay or sit. It’s almost as fun watching him play with dogs as it is watching him play with kids (he’s a natural there too). He would have been happy getting a dog a long time ago- I was the hold up. So he was thrilled when I suggested we start looking.

I was picky. The biggest requirement was that we get a dog that didn’t shed. I shed plenty of hair and have trouble keeping the house clean with just me- I didn’t want to have to be vacuuming every day or find stray dog hair in my food. I also was partial to smaller dogs, but Chris preferred bigger dogs, so we agreed on medium sized. Plus we want one that’s friendly, active and good with kids (I do hope to have more in the future). I loved the idea of a rescue dog (I feel almost morally dictated to get one) but with all my pickiness, a rescue was seeming less likely. Chris researched and found a local breeder of Golden Doodles and I was completely won over by their teddy bear appearance (if you want to be distracted by cuteness, look up golden doodles on pinterest). We began the process.

The breeder had a litter of medium sized dogs due in the end of July and so we signed ourselves up. A month of waiting for the pups to be born, then another month of waiting to meet and pick out our pup and a last month of waiting to take her home. Our Muppet has been three months in the making. In the last few weeks I would often comment “this must be what it’s like to be excitedly waiting for a baby to be born,” rather than wanting to stay pregnant and avoid the inevitable day, learning whether your baby would live or die.

Now we have a newborn pup at home and are living the lifestyle of newborn pup parents- frequent potty trips, sleeping poorly at night awoken by the cries of a pup in the crate next to our bed and showing her off proudly to anyone who will look.

Do you have a fur baby? Where have you put all your pent up love after your loss?

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15 thoughts on “Fur Babies

  1. Oh my, golden doodles are so cute! I have never seen one before. Prior to becoming a mother, I treated my animals as children. Once, Dot had to stay overnight at the vet. When I called to check on her, I introduced myself as “Dot’s mom,” and I requested to visit in the morning, on my lunch hour, and twice in the evening. I delivered Dot’s comfort items and a blanket that Zach and I had slept with so it would smell like us (Oddly, I did a similar thing with a small lovey blanket for Owen–I wanted him to have my scent near him for comfort if he had to be transferred. I used to encourage NICU moms to do the same).

    Before Owen was born, we bought a house. We knew he was going to be sick, but we expected him to live at the time, so we looked for a house that would allow us to accommodate a home vent and potentially a walker or wheelchair for surgeries later in life (kids with EVC have significant problems with their knees that require surgical repair). We found the perfect house that we loved, but it was quite outdated and needed some cosmetic changes. We planned on doing these eventually, but after Owen died, improving the house became a sort of consolation prize. Much of the time we would’ve spent with him we now spend working on the house. We don’t have our baby, but we have hardwood floors.

    • arg! “we dont have a baby, but we hard wood floors.” yes! people are sooooo happy i have a dog. many of them because they too simply love dogs and are excited i’ll have the joy of it, but my little muppet is my “baby-died” dog. You bought a house specifically for OWen and we did too- bought a house in a great school district that turned out to have great special needs programs. a constant reminder, no?

      i’ll have to try the scent thing with muppet for when we leave her during the day. great idea!

      • While we didn’t buy a house–we’re still just renting small apartments since we don’t know where we want to live long-term yet!–a big reason we moved to this apartment was for our baby. It’s still small, and we planned on moving somewhere else by now, but just knowing we initially moved here a year ago to have a happier, safer place to raise a baby is difficult for me. Where we planned on putting the crib and baby things, all of the safety precautions I had taken note of for a crawling baby. Yup, everyday reminders. I’m glad we’re here, but it’s hard remembering that baby isn’t but was supposed to be by now.

      • picking out your home for your child is such a painful reminder because you have to continue to live in that home. the home meant for your baby.

  2. I’m so excited for you guys and your new pup!! My good friend has two golden doodles and they are wonderful. I got my dog five years ago when she was a shaking, overweight shelter stress case… She is quite a shedder, her hair is everywhere 🙂 We’ve been through a lot together!! I used to focus on how she helped me stay grounded during med school. Now, especially with people saying things like “it just wasn’t the right time for you to be a mother”, I take a lot of comfort in knowing that I “mothered” my dog into a confident, social, active, happy girl. She definitely doesn’t make up for losing a baby (and I am all too aware that being a pet owner is not the same as being a parent), but she does boost my self-esteem, keep me company and get me out of the house!

    • what?? “it just wasnt time for you to be a mother?” i can’t even begin to process that statement. I’m learning that raising a pup has many (imagined) similarities to raising a new born- I know I cant say for sure, never having raised a newborn, but I can imagine. Sleepless nights, constant supervision, cuddles, teaching, daycare. It gives me something (though its also a painful reminder of what I should be doing.) I too know its not the same, but it’s something! whats your dogs name? breed?

      • She’s a Jack Russell mix named Hannah. She was going to be an amazing big sister. She actually wasn’t allowed in my bedroom before Sacha died… Now that rule is out the window!

  3. Enjoy your new puppy! We have a golden retriever (so we have all the shedding:) that is now six. He has been a huge help in reminding my husband and I that we have to keep on living without Jacob. We have been through so much together! He had two major surgeries as a puppy and young dog that made us have a stronger bond with him. Because our son was born beautiful and healthy, Jacob got to come home and meet his dog. Then when Jacob returned to the hospital at five days old, died two days later, and then didn’t return home with us, our dog grieved along with us. He has been a quiet companion, reminds us daily to get out and walk, along many gentle reminders to still play. Having a dog does not make up for not having our son, but he definitely reminds us we are a family.

  4. We got Pepper, our Jack Russell/Basenji rescue, on May 31, two weeks and two days before we lost our son, Max. I wanted Pepper to be integrated with our family and learn our hose rules before Max was born (should have been around October 9 – next week). We got Pepper to be Max’s best friend. Instead, she has become my best friend. It has helped me so much to have her. She’s adorable and cuddly and she has so much love. She reminds me everyday that life has so much to offer. She’s the reason I get up every morning – her need for a walk overcomes my desire to stay in bed. I honestly believe that she has been instrumental in my healing process. I know I have a long journey to go, but I also know that she will be right next to me the whole way.

    • Oh, I’m so glad you have Pepper in your life! I wish Muppet was there earlier for me. I used to say I wish I could just rent a dog for the first months of grieving, so I could have something to get up for every day. But I wasnt committed to forever take in a dog…. until a few months later. She is so very helpful to me now.

      • I’m so happy you have Muppet! I am enjoying reading about how she is helping shape the “new” you. There is something special about unconditional puppy love! 🙂

  5. Muppet is adorable, I love seeing the photos. Fat Cat, the neighbour’s cat who has adopted us is the willing recipient of our pent-up love. She is a people cat, and loves fuss – and I love to spoil her. x

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