We got a dog. He’s eight years old and his name is Chief. He appears to be a mix of English Setter Spaniel and Golden Retriever. Resplendent Respaniel. We were supposed to start shopping the local shelters for Dog last weekend with the goal of adopting one in October, but by the Sunday of the long weekend, Mouse and I were already in love with Chief.
What I enjoyed about the process of visiting the shelters (Animal Welfare League of Arlington and Animal Welfare League of Alexandria) was watching my teenagers, who increasingly behave like adults when they aren’t acting cooler than mere adults, briefly turn back into excited children. They were playing. They were expectant. Out of nowhere, it took me back 10 years. (Now it’s taking me back 10 years in other ways, like monitoring the toileting habits of a 60-lb mammal while figuring out what he’ll eat, what’s that spot he keeps scratching, and how Dino Spouse will react if left alone with him. The excited children part was nicer, I admit.)
Chief came home with me on Thursday night. TeenBot and Mouse loooooooove Chief and have so far been responsible dog siblings. They are back to being regular teens, but TeenBot did text me to inquire whether Chief was in fact still being “the goodest boy.” The big challenge for today will be making sure that (a) Chief will tolerate separation from us on Monday morning and (b) Dino Spouse will tolerate the idea of Chief being left alone in the house without being crated. Chief hates the crate. On the other hand, he shows zero interest in chewing on non-food items or toileting indoors.
The school year has started. TeenBot is apparently happy to be back in his element. Mouse is a bundle of nerves. They* are sufficiently in touch with and in control of their feelings that they could tell me about what made the day nerve-wracking, and that’s a major improvement over this time a year ago. It’s still painful to watch the horrors of adolescence unfold without being able to help, though.
* “They” are Mouse, who rejects the gender binary and has adopted “they/them” pronouns accordingly. I already mentioned this usage a couple of posts ago, but it still sounds weird to me when I see it written down.
(I got Mouse into therapy last year because they were missing so much school from anxiety that our family was on the verge of being referred to Child Protective Services. I know I was supposed to do it as a responsible parent to help them be healthier and happier, but I think I really bit the bullet and did it because (a) we were attracting attention from The Authorities and (b) it’s important to Mouse’s future livelihood that they be able to keep functioning through whatever storms their psyche stirs up. That imperative to keep at it is so much more persuasive to me than the idea of achieving a sense of personal well-being! My poor child.)