We were playing games with two couples (I was probably about to win, but that detail is a little fuzzy), and Aaron got a text from one of our K-Life leaders.
"Do you guys want a puppy?"
Did we want a puppy? We looked at each other and laughed. "I want a puppy! I've always wanted a puppy!" I said.
His phone buzzed again.
It was a picture of the puppy.
"Well, maybe we could just go see it." Aaron passed his phone around the table. It was a very cute puppy.
This is the point of the memory at which I think two things,
1. WHY DID OUR FRIENDS NOT TALK US OUT OF THE PUPPY?
2. How did we not know that "just going to see it" meant that we were DEFINITELY GETTING A PUPPY???
We went to see the puppy the next day. She came with a leash, a small bag of food, a few toys, and potty training pads. What a good deal! How could we ever possibly need anything more for the puppy? She was so little! She was so cuddly! She waddled!
The first night of our puppy ownership, we had 20 K-Life kids over to hang out, and she slept through it all, under a chair. We had clearly been gifted with the most easy-going, sweet, docile puppy in the world. The universe had smiled upon us, and we were well on our way to the perfect American family with 2.5 kids and a Golden Retriever!
(Did I mention that we were 8 weeks pregnant? And that I was sick, sick, sick?)
Our eyes were blinded with puppy love. We named her Maggie.
Perhaps bringing home a puppy is a little like having a baby. Bear with me. The first night in the hospital, the baby sleeps so well. Your body is full of magical endorphins, not to mention chest-bursting pride at having born a human being, and the tiny baby appears to do nothing but coo and lay contentedly in the plastic bassinet by your bedside. You arrive home, and that night, the darling baby wakes up every hour, and she is not cooing. She is CRYING, and she wants SOMETHING, and you are so tired and confused, and you sort of wonder if they would readmit you at the hospital if you drove there right now.
It only took 24 hours to see that this was not a docile puppy. This was not an easy-going puppy. She was sweet, yes, but we had unknowingly become the owners of a dog with an extreme case of hyperactivity WHO WOULD NEVER, EVER BE TIRED.
It's only a stage, right? She'll grow out of it, right? We asked other dog owners - wasn't your puppy like this? They would stammer something and exit the conversation quickly.
We did pretty well the first seven months. Maggie was smart. She house-trained quickly. She learned every trick we taught her. She thrived on attention. She loved to go on walks and runs. Aaron and I had the time and margin to throw a squeaky toy across the house 500 times in a row. She never did learn not to jump (a euphemism for throwing her entire weight upon a person and humping them rapidly) on visitors. My mom started coming to the back door because she was afraid.
Then we moved in with my parents. My dad hates dogs. My parents don't have a fence. We had a baby two days after moving in. You can imagine that all these factors combined into a swirling vortex of the worst possible dog-owning situation ever.
My brother said he would take her. That lasted four days.
We moved into our home. For a while, it seemed like maybe we could make this work. I think it was February, when the long, cold days of being in the house with Maggie and Anna seemed eternal - as if May were only a mirage - that I knew Maggie needed a new home. She needed attention; she needed exercise; she needed a therapist...none of which we could provide for her.
Tuesday, Maggie went to live with her new family. They're a young couple, childless. We gave them the complete and honest scoop on our pup, and they still wanted her. The husband has a lot of energy himself and likes to run 6 miles every morning. As they retreated down the sidewalk with Maggie pulling them along on her leash, my heart constricted a tiny bit.
"I miss Maggie," I told Aaron later as we cleaned up the dinner mess.
"You miss her hair everywhere? You miss her barking at you because you're not petting her? You miss her digging holes in your flowerbeds?" he replied.
"I don't know. I just kind of miss her. I'm a wildly sentimental person, you know."
He shook his head. (I still amaze him! After five years of marriage!)
"Hey," I continued. "What if she comes back to us, like the dogs in The Incredible Journey? What if she came back five times in a row to us like that? Would we keep her then?"
I may be wildly sentimental, but the man I married is strongly realistic.
Last night on the couch, Aaron nudged me. He was on Facebook, and the couple had posted a video of the husband playing with Maggie. "She's being so calm!" Aaron whispered, as if she might hear us through the screen and begin to hump it.
"Wow, she is being calm. I guess it's working out."
We both stared at the video, transfixed, and I knew then that Maggie's new home was going to be a great fit.
The day Maggie left. I realized we had no family pictures of the four of us, and we had to have complete documentation of that time we had a dog.