imagesMVUGMR9OIts been close to two years of allergy meds, dog fur resulting in the need for allergy meds, and the official conversion of our backyard into the landmine-infested stretch of earth we used to call a backyard. Two years of wet kisses and doggy breath, alongside a warm body who although he has a fierce bark, really has no bite. Adopting our rescue dog Challenger has been one of the best and most challenging decisions we’ve made for our family. Perhaps the word “decision” doesn’t quite fit, as my wife read one of my blog posts as a signal to begin the search.

We learned a valuable lesson about communication that month:

  1. When you write a post you know your ‘action-oriented’ spouse will read, clarify your intentions in writing it.
  2. Two, if you read a post written by your spouse, clarify that you really understand the message you’ve interpreted, as it will bite you in the @$$ at some point.
  3. Three, never….ever believe that the perfect dog is not going to happen on the VERY FIRST visit to a dog rescue because it will. We are a prime example of how a special needs family, will find a very special needs dog.

In the past two years, I’ve watched my daughter go from being terrified of being in the same room with Challenger, to taking him out on the leash and giving him clear directions to sit and stay. My favorite is when she wants alone time, and points for him to ‘get out now’, which he does. Just to give you context, by sixty-six year old mother does not get that kind of response from our very spoiled dog.

I’ve watched my son learn to care for (and sometimes not care for) his ‘roommate’. We have had countless opportunities to learn that the dog deserves to be fed as often as he deserves to be fed. This morning, I gave my son a reminder and he finally responded to without complaint, as if he’s caring for something that deserves to cared for (not just another chore). AMEN!

Even I have learned a lesson or two. I hate dog fur and I’m tired of allergy meds, but I secretly love the many ways our dog has changed our family. The person who consistently greets me at the door, every time, is our dog. I appreciate the looks of panic from delivery people and neighbors passing by our house, because it means safety for our family. I’ve learned that aliens abducted my mother (or her backbone) because she has systematically undone a costly stint of obedience school by encouraging Challenger to jump up all the time and of eat meals directly off of our table. Thanks Mom.

Let’s not forget my father, who is secretly panicked when Chal jumps up to greet him with a kiss (at almost eye-level) nearly knocking him down with affection. I laugh….every…time. I’ve also been reminded of how loving my wife is, not a tough thing to forget, but she really is so very sweet to that dog. Unlike me, she lavishing attention on him daily and faithfully takes him for a run or walk. He manages to knock the kids down periodically to get some alone time with her, which also makes me laugh…a lot. So, in thanks, Happy Anniversary Challenger…you were the best, mistaken gift I never asked for!