How in the world could one get a dog at a time like this? I suppose that's what I could have been asking myself one year before I split from my daughters mother. Bringing another living being into a situation where there are two warring parents isn't something one would consider healthy, or natural.
Now I have to say that I didn't make the choice to do this. I merely received a text on my phone with a picture of a dog. Oreo was his name. And while he was very cute and was a terrier like another amazing dog I had as a child, I was concerned we wouldn't be able to take care of him.
We had tried to adopt a dog from a shelter when my daughter was a baby but that was a wreck. Not only could I not care for him, but my ex was preoccupied with our baby. I know our child had gotten older but was it old enough to take care of him or would we ignore him much as we did our other pet?
I would love to say that my fears were unwarranted but packing up the family home from the split revealed some big things. First was that Oreo had been hiding things all around the house. (I admit that there were some hoarding issues that contributed to this problem.) But the second thing was that despite my questioning whether we were allowed to have a dog in the apartment, the landlord came and disabused me of this fact shortly before the split.
But even then I would say that Oreo has been worth it.
How could that possibly be? Why would I say such a thing? And how was I going to handle everything even the splitting of the dog?
Well much to my happiness the dog came with me. She couldn't bring the dog with her as she wasn't going somewhere she could. Thankfully I found a place I could have the dog. Because I didn't realize how much he would mean to all kinds of people.
First, he was able to sense my emotions when I was dealing with the split. This is a pretty amazing ability. I know that animals can sense all sorts of things. And for the most part, cats, even if they can sense your pain, do not care. But dogs, they seem to know what you are feeling, and know what you need. When I was in pain or feeling lost, he made sure I knew I wasn't alone. And that someone cared about me, and relied on me. During that difficult time, it was invaluable.
Second, he helped my daughter overcome all kinds of fears. Maybe some of those fears were dealing with other dogs, which she was afraid of beforehand (the subject of another blog), but he made her feel confident around them. It's possible that it was too confident that she would walk straight up to pit bulls. Eventually she learned that dogs can be good or bad, just like people, and reacted accordingly.
Third, he helped my dad overcome his own loss and disability. Oreo, despite his size was able to help my dad deal with the loss of his own dog, and when he would be with him he also helped him when he was dealing with difficulties through a car accident, trying to help out wherever he could. Maybe he wasn't a seeing eye dog but he was always looking out for him and protecting him in any way he could.
Finally, he just brings joy to every day that he is in. Whether it's wanting to snuggle with you as you are trying to get up in the morning, or the seeing you off to work as he takes his pets but looks depressed that you are leaving, to his ecstatic return when you come back to the house in the evening, he's a ray of joy. It's hard to be upset when you are enthusiastically being greeted. And even if you are upset he can sense that too and react accordingly with cuddles and love.
Would I have chosen to get a dog when we did? Did I think bringing someone into the house was good when things were dark already? The answer would be no. But would I bring Oreo into our lives again? Absolutely. I can't imagine a world without him.
David Elliott, Single Dad's Guide to Life
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