Growing up, we never had a family pet. Well, my sister may have had a goldfish or two. And I vaguely remember her asking for a dog but having a dog or cat or guinea pig was not something I thought about much. Back then, the dogs I encountered in our neighbourhood seemed to be mostly tied up outside and not a big part of family life.Then fast forward many years…along comes our daughter. Since the time she was a baby, she was drawn to all things furry…dogs, cats, guinea pigs, rabbits…and even the non-furry kind…turtles, snakes, and other reptiles. But dogs have always held a special place in her heart. From a very young age, we had to teach her how to ask an owner, “May I pet your dog?” and how to let the dog sniff her hand, and then to gently pet the dog. I remember going to the library and borrowing the book, May I Pet Your Dog? by Stephanie Calmenson and Jan Ormerod, and reading it to her over and over.
I would recommend this book for any child, whether they like dogs or not, because it teaches children how to safely be around dogs and treat them with respect. These days our neighbourhoods are full of dogs and they certainly are a big part of family life.
Of course, it wasn’t long before our daughter was asking for a dog. Those were probably the first words out of her mouth! We always told her she could get a dog when she was 10 years old because then she would be responsible enough to look after it, and because it seemed like a long way off. I couldn’t imagine adding a dog into the mix of our busy life. So we hung tough on our “not until you’re 10 years old” rule.
And then…I got breast cancer…that was not in the plan! My daughter was 6 years old when I was diagnosed. I started with chemotherapy first to shrink the rather large tumour. And who would have thought, in the height of chemo treatments and all the stress and anxiety that comes along with it, not to mention the side effects, that we would get a dog. Definitely, not me!!
And you know what…it was the best thing we could have done. We adopted Oliver from my sister. She had another much older dog who was not very active anymore and really just wanted to be quietly left alone most of the time while Oliver, on the other hand, was full of energy and wanted to run and play. My sister and her husband knew how badly their young niece wanted a dog and that Oliver needed more exercise so they thought the two of them would be the perfect match. They could wear each other out!