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It took me a really long time to decide I wanted a puppy.  I grew up in a family where pets were forbidden.  Neither of my parents were raised with pets, so they didn’t really feel they needed any.  They also had six kids and probably thought that was enough to take care of, enough pitter-patter of feet, enough mouths to feed.  I tend to agree. It would be tough raising that many children.  I fell in line third out of the six and desperately wanted a white, fluffy kitty when I was about eight.  I pleaded with my mom to let me get one.  She wouldn’t let me, because she thought the cat would wrap itself around the baby’s neck and choke it.  She said I could get one after he was a few years older.  But, then she had another baby, and so on until I was in my teenage years and getting a pet wasn’t as high of a priority.  While I wanted a cat, I never wanted a dog, because they terrified me.  I was never bitten, but I do remember some traumatizing incidents with barking and snarling teeth. 

My husband, on the other hand, grew up in a family where pets were abundant.  He had a pet rabbit, a pet lizard, a hamster, and two salamanders.  They bought a pet dog, a Maltese-Lhasa Apso, when he was five.  He barely remembered a time without her.  When I met him, Annie was 16.  Old for a dog.  I had missed out on her youthful days and only knew her as elderly.  I sympathised with the family when she neared death, but I didn’t have the same connection.  I had never bonded with a pet.  She passed right after we got engaged.  The funeral was really sad, and I tried to be as supportive as I could.

In my early adult years, I really had never considered getting a dog and was known to not like them.  I was always awkward around dogs and kept my distance.  I tolerated being around them, petted them every once in a while but was really not sure what to do.  They were foreign to me.  My stepmom even refused to let me dog-sit, because she knew I would be horrible.  But once I met my husband, I knew it was  inevitable that we would get a dog of our own.  For a long time, I thought we could just put it off until after we had kids.  We would have more freedom.  We could travel.  I wouldn’t have to take care of it.  Also, my husband’s still in school, and I didn’t want to become the sole caretaker.  So, I pushed to wait on getting one until after we had kids.

Then, a couple of months ago, I started getting really fed up with work and living in the Bay Area and was lonely when my husband would have his evening classes.  So I started seriously looking at different breeds.  After much searching and debating, we finally settled on a Maltese-Shih tzu.  We found some irresistible puppy pictures online.  We mulled over the idea for a while.  Weeks later, it was tax time, and our jaws dropped when we saw how much we would have to pay.  Utterly depressed, we decided to give the breeder a call and go see the puppies.  The “waiting until we have kids” concept had flown out the window. 

Getting a puppy was one of the most terrifying experiences.  There were seven in his litter, and it took us two hours to pick him out.  When we left with our new bundle of joy, he was yelping tiny, cute squeeks, and I felt unbelievably horrible for separating him from his family.  Who were we to take this tiny creature away from all he knew in the world?  My husband drove, so I held him on my lap.  We bonded over the drive home from Sacramento.  He weighed only three pounds.  He was this itty bitty helpless creature that now relied solely on us for his survival!  Talk about responsibility!  The way he kept looking at us to comfort him and tell him everything would be ok.  The way he yelped and cried.  He needed us.  We literally became parents that day.  My “it’s just a dog” mentality did a 180 that day to become “this is my baby” and “he’s a member of the family.” 

After having our new puppy for just a few days, I couldn’t believe that I had never had one before.  I was really missing out my entire life on something truly wonderful!  He is a blessing.  He wakes us up in the morning with licks, jumps up and down with joy when we get home, and loves us no matter what.  Now that we have him, I don’t mind taking care of him like I thought I would.  It just comes naturally.  And, my husband helps out a lot.  We take turns getting up in the morning to let him out, and he makes a valiant effort to clean up.  He is an excellent puppy daddy and it makes me think he’ll do just fine with babies when we have them.  I can see why people say that getting a puppy is like a test run for parenthood.  It shows how well you work together when taking care of a helpless being that depends on you for its survival.