This time last month I was in Frisco Christmas shopping with Jeff. Strangely, I kept finding myself on the pet aisle at various places of business. I was merely following my husband around who was excitedly purchasing “dog things” for us to wrap up for the children in order to surprise them at Christmas with the fact that we would be picking up a new puppy the end of February or so. It was a wonderful and a MORE wonderfully, PRACTICAL plan. It was Christmas, for heaven’s sakes and we would be driving 15 hours to see our family. We couldn’t kennel a puppy right after we got him and who in their right minds would travel 15 hours (one way) with a whining, un-potty trained puppy? And do our parents really love us THAT much to tolerate a new puppy in their finally child-free nice clean homes? Waiting until after Christmas was the only thing that made good sense. Crowning our strategic puppy project, we planned for the kids to take 6 weeks of dog training classes at Pet Smart before we got the little pooch at the end of February, so Julia and Brighton would know how to take care of him.
Back up only a week or so before that shopping trip. This is what you might have heard from the kids because they have heard me chant these puppy spoilers over the years: “We can’t get a dog until we get a fence.....and a gate.” “We can’t get a dog until we are old enough to take care of him.” “Mom is not ready for a dog.” These are from my own thoughts: “Potty training, another thing to ‘situate”, something to figure out before we travel- or just a trip to the grocery store, muddy paws, dog hair, Jeff wants an inside dog (!!!!!!!!!!!), dog toys everywhere, distraction during school, budgeting for food, trips to the vet” and on and on and on. I was, hmmmmmmmm, hesitant? Or maybe adamantly against it? Well, that’s neither here nor there. Really.
It was a beautiful plan and one that allowed me to slumber blissfully at night .......until one night, just before I entered that blissful sleep, I heard from my right side, “Krista, I was thinking............” As I stared at the ceiling from my bed and listened as my thorough, practical plan tragically dissipated in my blue bedroom as I could tell Jeff really wanted to surprise the kids with not just the IDEA of a puppy, but with the real-live thing.... at Christmas.
Still not enthusiastically waving the “Let’s get a puppy NOW!” flag, I came home from Walgreens one Wednesday night between the evening my plan fell apart and Christmas. It was about 10:30 and there was something I needed to take upstairs that evidently couldn’t wait until morning. When I walked into B’s room, he rolled over and before I left the room he awakened enough to summon me over. With as much excitement as an “I have been asleep for 2 hours” boy can muster he said, “Mom. Guess what Daddy told us tonight? He said that when Julia is 12 and I am 10, we can get a dog!!! Isn’t that exciting, Mom! I can’t wait.” (Four years away, mind you.) I kissed him on the bridge of his nose and told him I couldn’t wait either. He closed his eyes with a big grin. It was in that kiss, I knew we would be getting a dog for them and the sooner the better. I was in. Puppy flags waving. Enthusiastically.
If I had known that night what I know now, I would have put on my seat belt. Jeff hit the puppy fast track and before I knew it I saw a PayPal payment come through while sitting at Starbucks one Tuesday morning. He had found a puppy he was happy with and the little guy would be ready to leave the litter just in time. Well, almost-- we had to get him 4 days before our “Christmas morning” in Texas. (We celebrate before we leave town.) Amazing friends actually CALLED and ASKED us if they could keep him because they wanted to! They had him for the four hardest days in his little puppy life and returned him to us, practically potty trained. (You Cheeks are amazing!)
Jeff and I named him Gabriel so the naming wouldn’t become a source of bickering or ownership, so Gabriel sat in his kennel in Jeff’s car “Christmas morning” while the children opened their presents. Our plan of Jeff ringing the door bell, leaving Gabriel in a wrapped box and running back into the house from the garage had a slight glitch in it since our door bell isn’t working. When Jeff ran back in and saw us all sitting calmly looking at the new gifts, he had to imagine he heard someone knocking on our door. When pajama-clad Julia and Brighton opened the front door, Gabriel, sporting a big red bow, had already made his way out of his Christmas box and ran right into our house. Julia and Brighton were confused-- they kept asking, “Whose puppy is this? Is this our neighbor’s puppy?” It never crossed their minds that it might be theirs! It was super fun to tell them that he was. It was a sweet puppy day, filled with lots of puppy love but this girl’s mind was on to the road trip. I had that planned perfectly and practically, too.
I had called the breeder to pick her brain on several issues but the main one was the ungodly long- for- a- puppy road trip. When I told her how long, her “oooooo-ing” sound did not inspire me. She said probably the best thing to do was to put him in his crate in the very back with all of our things. If he could see us and not get to us, it would cause discontentment and therefore whining. She also said we would need to stop about every two hours for a potty break. Two hours? Was I really up for this? So the night before we left, I laid out my plan for Jeff and I knew he took it hook, line and sinker when he said, “We’ll see.” I didn’t sleep well.
Once the car was loaded at dark thirty, Jeff plopped the crate right between Julia and Brighton and just as I had drawn my breath to passionately object, he smiled and said, “Let’s try it.” Two miracles happened. I kept my mouth shut and Gabriel slept the entire way there, the entire way back and had the “holding power” as good as a six year old boy.
Okay, so we love the dog.