The Heart Gallery–Paint Your Pet Night Backstory
I once knew a Mum in Australia who threatened her children constantly with NOT getting a dog.
Bella, if you run up ahead of me…NO DOG!!
Hamish, if you hit your brother, NO DOG!!!
I don’t even know if a dog was ever on the table. It didn’t matter. The very idea that a K-9 may one day enter their lives was enough to keep the kids in-line. I used the same threat as a joke for years. It didn’t have the same impact, since I was referencing an imaginary dog that we would ABSOLUTELY never own.
My hard line didn’t stop the kids from producing multiple “why we need a dog” presentations. There were power points, youtube videos, dog-related reality shows, and my personal favorite, a full scale lecture with visual aids and spreadsheets. None of these demonstrations had the desired effect. I was a fortress. A giant physicalized NO. Four kids, a cat, a hedgehog and a dying business seemed like enough stress and responsibility for one woman.
Lock down takes a toll on your ability to say no to your family. Mike always wanted a Wire-Haired Pointing Griffon. It was a bucket list item for him. Not me. My bucket list consisted of travel and maybe another tattoo. Acquiring a dog was on my, “how bout never” list. I am not a fan of K-9 crotch investigations and have always been irritated by planning around dog needs. For example, if a dog is the reason you can’t come to Thanksgiving, you might not make it in my gratitude journal (I don’t currently have one but I will one day).
The “NO DOG” routine I rehearsed earnestly over the years, was no match for a global pandemic. Just as the six of us were becoming feral as a result of mandated isolation, a litter of Griffs were being domesticated in Central Oregon. Mike and the kids felt the stars had aligned and the Lord Himself had brought a puppy into the world just for us. I felt like that puppy was about to piss on my party.
And so…I fought against the idea…valiantly. I brought to bear lists of my own, outlining in great detail why dogs make life harder. I told stories of my childhood pet Wheelow, who was a biter and liked to dance fight. I reminded Mike about the dog of his youth, Gus, who was kicked out of obedience school. I pointed at my deep and abiding fear of pit bulls due to an unfortunate incident I witnessed circa 2004.
My cries of “NO DOG” were met with locked arms and wide eyed longing. All my red flags were discarded and replaced with puppy pictures. Their counter attack was impressive and deliberately designed to hack away at my resolve.
They had pictures. Each puppy they placed in front of me had a bow around its neck with little description: Mr. Blue–a gentle giant with a penchant for art. Mr. Red–loves people and long walks on the beach. Mr. Black–has a sweet disposition and an intelligent face. I added the art and beach part, but the rest is true. They were irritatingly cute.
I started to feel angry at the family for putting me in this position. I didn’t want to be the bad guy. I didn’t want to keep my people from getting to love a dog. We were home all the time, growing weary, our business was shut down, and I was in a dark place as I dealt with the passing of one of my best friends in the whole world–someone who just happened to love dogs as much (if not more) than she loved people. In a weird way, I felt like continuing to stand my ground was passing on an opportunity to love something that she did.
So, I surrendered.
It’s downright cliche–a pandemic puppy. An animal that everyone loves and I take care of. I should give more credit to Mike. He has enjoyed more than his fair share of puppy care, but I did all the late night work. Day three, I was up all night in my closet, cursing my family and trying to love this fuzzy, needy little creature with an underdeveloped bladder. My heart strings were plucked, but all I could hear in my head like a broke LP was “what is the upside”.
I think I love my dog. He presses down on my heart (literally) when I am overwhelmed. He looks at me with compassion when I am doing it wrong. He forces me to walk faster than I otherwise would and I think he might even love me.
Fun fact: He has made life harder.
Invitation: Paint your pet night is coming at the Heart Gallery. Bring a picture of your pet, and let’s see what we come up with:) I’m gonna paint this guy.