Rewind to the summer of 2009. My husband, kids, and I planned an exciting and huge vacation to Washington, D.C. with an ocean stop-over in Virginia Beach. Over two weeks we'd be gone. We hired a house sitter who doubled as our dog sitter--a kind, respectful, trustworthy teenage boy. At the time, our family dog was Tucker. A two-and-a-half-year-old mixed breed who was large, high-spirited, energetic, and, well, hard for others to love. But I loved him completely. This is Tucker.
One day into our road trip to D.C., our dog sitter called and said Tucker nipped him when he'd attempted to take one of his art pencils out of Tucker's mouth. Indeed, Tucker was known for taking "things," running through the house with them, and playing keep away. (Remember I told you Tucker was hard for others to love?) Over the next few days, Tucker nipped our dog sitter several more times and bit my father-in-law seriously when he came over to assist our dog sitter.
With our permission, my father-in-law took Tucker to the vet and had him put to sleep. The call that Tucker was gone came while my family and I were eating lunch in the lower level of the Supreme Court. I knew it had to be done. A dog who bites is dangerous. I knew that. But my dog-loving heart was broken. And I knew how empty the house would feel once we returned home.
Only I didn't know how empty my heart would feel once we returned home and there was no dog waiting for me.
A month passed with my family being dog-less. To me, it felt like a lifetime. My husband and I had a dog in the house long before we had kids in the house--Tucker was not our first dog. My kind-hearted husband, who wasn't sure he wanted another dog after what happened with Tucker, consented to my pleas of, "Please? Please can we have another dog?" So we had a friend, knowledgeable in the personalities of puppies, choose a Golden Retriever from a litter for us.
Yes, someone ELSE chose our puppy for us.
And here's the sweetness that healed my broken dog-loving heart.
Three years later, my dear and loving Teddy looks like this.
So I know the power of pets and the purpose of pets and the unconditional love of pets and the joy and heartbreak of pets.
And when I write, I include pets in my stories. And when I read a story with a pet in it, I usually love the story all the more. Pets teach us and love us in different ways than people. I think they do that same thing in books.
What about you? Do you include pets in your writing? If you don't write, does a pet add something extra to a story you read?