I was never a “dog person”. I didn’t dislike dogs, I just didn’t have any interest. Howie had less interest than I did. I might go so far as to say he did dislike dogs. Amanda and Lily were both scared of dogs when they were little. As they got older they were no longer scared, but also didn’t have much interest.
During the blackout that I wrote about, there were two dogs living with us. Two of the families had dogs so they came with them. I noticed that my girls actually seemed to like the dogs and I think I even saw them playing with them a few times. It crossed my mind that getting a dog might be a good idea for them, but I quickly dismissed it. At that time I felt like I was barely surviving. I certainly didn’t need to give myself something else to take care of.
A couple of months later, Lily spent the day at a friend’s house. The family had a beautiful golden retriever. When I picked her up that afternoon she kept talking about the dog. How cute he was, how they played with him, how they walked him.
Before I could stop myself, the words “Lily, would you like a dog?” came out of my mouth. When she screamed “Yes!!”, I thought “Oh no, what did I just get myself into?”
The first thing we had to do was talk to Amanda. She was as excited about the idea as Lily was. So I guess we were getting a dog!
Our first problem was that Amanda and I are both allergic to dogs so we needed to get something hypo-allergenic. Since I am not a big person and my girls were young, I didn’t think we could handle a big dog so another criteria was a small dog. I know that so many people have very strong feelings about getting a rescue dog and I actually agree with them. But because of our allergies and really knowing nothing about dogs at the time, I decided to go to a breeder.
A friend suggested a Shi-Poo. They are half shitzu and half poodle. Someone else recommended a breeder (in Missouri!). The girls and I looked at the website a bunch of times to pick it out. Finally, Amanda saw a brownish 3 month old male puppy that she thought looked adorable.
My girls tend to disagree just for the sake of disagreeing so when Lily said she also thought this puppy was cute I said – that’s the dog for us!
We got in touch with the breeder and made arrangements to have the puppy sent to us.
Regarding his name – my girls had agreed very easily about picking the dog. Naming him was a different story. Every suggestion Amanda made, Lily disagreed with. So then every suggestion Lily made, Amanda would disagree with. I couldn’t stand the arguing, so I came up with an idea. My suggestion was to give him a name that would remind us of Howie.
We thought about it and decided on “Bruce” because Howie was a huge Bruce Springsteen fan. It is definitely a strange little name but we all thought it was a great idea.
A few weeks later Bruce was put in a van with a few other puppies that drove from Missouri to New Jersey. We had to meet the van in a Starbucks parking lot (sounds a little shady but it wasn’t). When we saw the van, Bruce was sitting on the driver’s lap and he was the cutest little thing I had ever seen (besides my girls of course). He gave us the dog and we took him into our car.
This poor little thing was terrified – he was shaking beyond belief. We got him home and tried to make him comfortable and happy. Then a bunch of our friends came over to meet him (some with their own dogs). It was fun and adorable but I think he was very overwhelmed.
We tried keeping him in a crate at night but he literally cried all night long – it was like having a newborn. So we stopped that pretty quickly. He was a very nervous little puppy. But eventually Bruce got used to us and became a very happy little dog.
I have heard people say that a dog can bring happiness into a home. I never believed it until we got Bruce.
This little dog greets us when we come in the door and when we wake up in the morning so that is impossible not to have a smile on our faces. He truly lights up our house. He has helped us all recover in a way I would never have believed. Bruce loves the girls, but I am without a doubt his favorite (probably because I am the only one that takes care of him!). He follows me around the house and he sleeps in my room. He still seems to have a nervous personality and is a little quirky but I absolutely love him. We all do.
So, to anyone in any kind of situation like we were, my first piece of advice would be to get a dog. Best decision I ever made.
And Lily is now begging for another one. I’m not ready quite yet…Read Why I Have Become A Crazy Dog Lady
Stacy was a stay-at-home mom/part-time preschool teacher whose life was turned upside down in 2011 when her husband passed away suddenly of a heart attack. She is raising her two fabulous daughters, now ages 18 and 20, who are turning into wonderful young women. In 2016, she started a blog about her experience as a young widow, The Widow Wears Pink. This led her to write for other publications including Huffington Post, Today.com, Scary Mommy, Grown & Flown, Kveller, Modern Loss, Thought Catalog, and many more. In 2018 she started Living the Second Act with fellow writer Mimi Golub. Today, Stacy and her daughters are happily living their “new normal” while always keeping her husband’s spirit alive.