In a moment of weakness, Randy promised Henry that he could have a dog. Fudge, the guinea pig, died a while back-- sometime last fall. I knew he was sick and I prepped Henry and Maren for the day, but it was still hard for Henry when he came downstairs that morning and I had to tell him that his beloved Fudge had died. Maren didn't really care, but she did try to comfort Henry. She kept saying, "It's okay, big guy."
So Henry's upset... cry, cry, cry. Maybe three minutes later, through tears and a quivering voice he asks, "Can I have a dog?" No frickin' way, was my first and only thought, but I wasn't going to tell him that. I told him to call his dad at work, KNOWING that Randy would say no.
Here is Henry's side of the conversation-- the side that I can hear: "Dad, Fudge died. Can I have a dog? Okay. Bye." Henry threw the phone down on the couch and turned on the TV. He was completely expressionless. I'm thinking I'm the smartest mom on the planet. Henry can hate Randy for the rest of his life, not me, for saying no to a dog. Trying to sound sympathetic I asked Henry, "What did Dad say?" Henry says, still with no emotion and not even looking up from the TV, "Dad said yes." What?! I knew Henry wasn't lying. I believed he thought Randy had told him he could have a dog, but certainly it was just a misunderstanding.
I called Randy and asked what he had said to Henry. My plan backfired in a major way. Randy promised the boy a dog. Randy's defense: "What was I supposed to say? He called me crying about his stupid guinea pig!"
Anyway, we promised Henry that we would begin looking for a dog in the spring. As that time approached, I really began to worry about where we would find a dog. Of more concern was how we would find a dog that was not an idiot/jerk/make us hate it so much that we had no choice but to kill it or send it away forever-kind of dog. I have not had the best luck acquiring decent pets.
#1 Pinto Bean, the three-legged feral cat. She would come to you, purring and rubbing against your leg to be petted and then once you did, she would bite the shite out of you. I'm talkin' blood-drawing, need to go on antibiotics so you don't get some funky feral cat disease-bite. She was a butt.
#2 Pedro, the orphaned puppy that I raised from his first day of life because his mother didn't want him. Maybe she knew that he'd grow up to be a psychotic freak show that would go after people's jugular. That was a scary dog.
#3 Chewy, who was fine until Henry was born. After that he started peeing on everything. It wasn't funny at the time, but when we were living in New Mexico, Chewy peed on Randy's bullet-proof vest. I scrubbed the hell out of that vest but it was no match for New Mexico's desert heat. As soon as Randy started to sweat, he smelled like cat urine. Hilarious... now, for me, not Randy. Shortly after that he peed on my maternity overalls-- the only thing that fit me at the time (I was preggers with Maren.) That was not funny at the time and still is not funny today.
#4 Daisy, the biggest jerk-dog I have ever been around. She was THE WORST. She was cute and that's about all she had going for her. That's all I can say. I still get angry just thinking about that dog.
ANYWAY... I was really worried about how we were going to find a good dog. I felt stupid and a little embarrassed doing it, but one morning I got down on my knees. There I was-- a grown woman asking God for a dog. Wow. It may have been the most awkward prayer that I have offered: "Heavenly Father, I know this is stupid, but we want a dog for our family. We obviously have very poor judgment when it comes to picking out dogs. I don't want to go through the hassle we did with Daisy. Please send us a good dog. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen." I could just see God standing there in heaven with his mouth open asking, "Really?" Regardless of how lame it was, it was sincere and it was done.
A couple of months later I ran into our neighbor. She works at a dog kennel and it came up that we were going to start looking for another dog. She said, "Oh, we've got the perfect dog for you!" Right, I thought to myself. It was some stray yellow lab someone had picked up a couple of months earlier. I was half listening to her when I heard the magic word, "free," and I decided it was worth a shot to at least look at the dog.
Anyway, long story short, we went and looked at the dog and after a 2 week trial at our house, we decided to keep him. The day we went to finalize the deal, the woman who was helping us asked, "Did you know that a few other families took AJ home and brought him back?" I had but I never found out exactly why. When I asked, the woman said that AJ wouldn't connect with the other families. He wouldn't even look at them. Our experience was the complete opposite. When I brought Henry to meet AJ with me for the first time, he stayed right next to Henry the whole time. Henry could give him commands and AJ would listen. The woman went on to say, "It was like he was waiting for you."
No joke-- I almost started to cry. Yes, it is embarrassing. Not because of the dog, but because Heavenly Father is so nice! I know this is just a dog, but that is what is so great about it. IT'S JUST A DOG! I can't find the words to explain the feeling, but it is just amazing to me-- those tender mercies of the Lord-- that God knows me, hears me and cares about me... and because of those truths, among other things, he sent us a nice dog.
So there you are-- A.J. the miracle dog. The kids love him. He's great with the kids. I knew AJ wasn't going to hurt the kids after a week of watching Emmy shove her fat little finger in either AJ's nostril or his eyeball. He didn't love it, but he never tried to eat her because of it. Emmy is probably AJ's best friend. I am certain that more of Emmy's food ends up in the dog's mouth than hers. Maren's a big fan. Every morning when she wakes up she asks, "Can I go see AJ?" Of course Henry his happy. He has his dog.
AJ's only really annoying habit is digging. Oh my gosh, can that dog dig! He actually dug up Fudge a couple of weeks ago. Yes, it was horrifying and disgusting, but luckily Henry and Maren were riding their bikes in the front yard when it happened. They had no idea. Fudge's new grave is in a Michigan landfill now, may he rest in peace. Maybe I should ask God to make AJ stop digging.
Maren's butt, or "buttocks" as she refers to it (thank you Shrek,) is ALWAYS exposed.