We have discussed getting a dog for a couple years now because I do miss having one, & we've always felt he/she would be great for Hayden. But I was equally concerned about the expense & the extra work. We always had a dog growing up but Dan did not, & he certainly didn't want Hayden to grow up uncomfortable around dogs too. Then while I was pregnant with Hayden, my sister's dog Harlee lived with us for about a year-- that experience pretty much converted Dan to a dog lover.
Harlee was a big black lab with an even bigger personality (albeit a great one, most of the time :) ). The two things I remember most about her, was how she absolutely loved the water-- like a magnet to it-- & for better or worse, she was very food motivated. Jenna got her after college, & Harlee was still around up until Hayden was 5, but we're not sure that he truly remembers her except for us telling him & showing him pictures. Hayden was fine around Harlee even though she was no longer under our roof by the time he was born, but then again she was here before him & also developmentally he was not exactly "5".
The other reason why I'm not so sure Hayden actually remembers Harlee, is that I can't think of a single dog he hasn't been afraid of.
That aside, Hayden is also becoming increasingly aware of the growing developmental gap between himself & his same-age peers... & coupled with his age there are going to be a lot of changes in the recent years ahead. Now more than ever is an ideal time to help build his confidence, his sense of responsibility, but also curb some of that anxiety while preserving his sociability. That is something I would never want to be compromised by any of the aforementioned-- Hayden's engaging personality has always been one of his greatest strengths.
As everyone probably knows by now, a hound mix named Sammie officially joined our family about a week & a half ago. Our short journey to adopt her actually began with a different dog-- a chocolate lab puppy. We planned to file adoption applications with various rescue agencies, but this one light-eyed cappuccino-colored guy tugged at our hearts from the first picture. He was described as friendly & goofy but in need of basic training (not that he reminded me of anyone).
I don't even think a full day passed from the time we completed our application to the time it was approved-- with references & all. But after we inquired about the chocolate lab, we would have a week until our meet & greet with him. So in the interim we also inquired about two other dogs, both females who were fully trained & slightly older. However, one of them already had several families interested & I did not want to be third or fourth on a list. The other one would not be ready for adoption until after the new year (she was still out of state & undergoing treatment for something minor).
The day we met the chocolate lab we purposely arranged to get to the adoption center early, so there would be less people & fewer dogs... vs the day when we stopped there to fill out the application in the first place, & it was much more crowded & therefore entirely too overwhelming for Hayden.
But unfortunately the little lab who acted just like the puppy he was, was just too much for Hayden anyway. He would not go within several yards of that puppy. After speaking with the people at the adoption center who also witnessed Hayden's reaction, they asked us if we knew about Sammie.
Long story short, within the hour Sammie's foster arrived so we could meet her. The next thing I know Dan was picking up food, dog bowls, a bed... & I was writing a check.
From the moment that Hayden & Sammie met, he not only walked right up to her but calmly accepted her leash. Within minutes he started walking her through the store towards the exit! I still get choked up when I look at these pictures, & may not have believed it if I hadn't been there to see it with my own eyes.
They sat next to each other on the way home, & that was that.
So, a little background on Sammie...
They believe "Sammie Sweetie" (we dropped the middle name) was born in 2008. Based on her paperwork it appears her first home was in Georgia. Originally the rescue agency thought she was 5, going on 6 soon, but there was also a good 8-month discrepancy in her birth date between the papers from Georgia & NJ. After taking a closer look it appears she is already 6, because of the date she was supposedly spayed.
Sammie was probably with her first owner (in Georgia) for about four years, & it appears that person just didn't want her anymore-- nothing really negative was reported though. We do know after Sammie came to NJ, she was with a family who gave her up after having a baby. They claimed that Sammie growled at the infant, but the foster did not see a shred of bad behavior (nor did the rescue agency when Sammie was in their care). One thing they explained to us is that sometimes the owners will lie to get out of the adoption-- sad, but it happens.
I can tell you that Sammie has met Flora & Gabriele, & she was wonderful around both of them.
Anyway, after some grooming :) & then being examined by a vet, we were told there is no reason to doubt that she has many good years ahead of her. By then Hayden will be a teenager & better equipped to handle the next dog (when the time comes)-- probably a younger puppy who could be around through his adulthood. We also feel relieved that Sammie has a permanent home now to live out her years. The only thing the vet said on a scale of 1 to 6-- 6 being the most severe-- was that Sammie may have a heart murmur rated 1. They believe it's probably from her teeth needing some attention, & the bacteria getting into her system. They explained how to care for her to improve the condition of her back teeth, & quite honestly if that's the worst of it then I'm grateful.
Although, Hayden's reaction to her had me sold anyway. Even before he started walking Sammie around the store (telling everyone who stopped to pet her, "That's my dog" <3 )... he was practically begging... asking me over & over again to confirm that she was our dog & we were going to take her home... & then hugging me & thanking me... & then perseverating again for reassurance... & more hugging... (you get the idea)
She is such a sweet lady & has many traits that remind me of my beloved Sugar (our second dog from my childhood). With the exception of being camel-colored & not black, nearly everything else about Sammie is familiar-- from her disposition, to the white on her chest, to the beauty mark on her tongue.
Like I said, it's only been about a week & a half but so far Sammie has made her way into our hearts about as quickly as she made her way into our home.