Our Third Child

Today I’d like to tell you about one member of our family who rarely gets mentioned here. Her name is Zoey, and she is our dog. She goes to this wonderful place called doggy day care on Fridays and today was my day to drive her there. As she stared alertly out the front window, paws perched steadily on the dash, I fondly recalled a moment long, long ago when she was my only baby. A fuzzy little puggle – oh, how I miss that wonderful puppy smell! – asleep on my stomach, twitching and yipping in dream-filled bliss.

The little miss has grown substantially since then, although she still enjoys a good nap next to Mom every now and then. Her family has grown too. She’s done a superb job of adjusting to the many changes our household has seen in the last four years – a move, a marriage, and two babies. When we brought Savannah home from the hospital, Zoey was elated. Tail a-waggin’, nose a-sniffin’, she covered that baby in disgusting wet dog kisses until Geoff softly pushed her away. Two years later Molly was born. Zoey greeted her with one quick and gentle lick, a loving “hello” from a pooch made wiser with time.

Before we had kids, we swore we would never neglect Zoey. But as every dog-owner turned parent knows, that’s just not possible. When the baby needs fed, the dog must wait; when the baby needs changed, the dog must wait. And wait she does, as patiently and as perfectly as a saint. No doubt it was a tumultuous transition for her, learning to forgo the spotlight, but everyday she does it with humility and grace.

Her love for her sisters is evident in the way she showers them with kisses every morning and in the way she sits concernedly outside their bedroom door when they’re crying. It’s evident in the way she tolerates bows and sunglasses, in the way she lays quietly next to Molly when she’s asleep or in the way she shoves her little wet nose in the middle of Savannah’s puzzle as if to say, “I’ll play with you!”

As many of you probably know, the quality and quantity of a dog’s love, especially for it’s human siblings, cannot be measured. At least not Zoey’s. And their love for her is equally limitless. Savannah asks about “sissy” constantly. What’s she doing? Where’s she going? When’s she coming home? The other day I watched in the rearview mirror as they shared a piece of licorice in the back seat. A few days later she split her granola bar in half and pragmatically notified me that she intended to “share it with sissy” when she got home from day care. Some things just melt your heart.

When Zoey’s away, our house lacks its pulse. There’s no rhythmic pitter-patter of paws, no soft whine when a car drives by, no shrill bark when it pulls into our driveway. Her presence is like a drum – steady and unnoticed until it disappears and the melody suddenly falls apart. That’s why we love her, because perhaps like your own dog, she’s the constant and reliable background music to our life.

Fur Baby

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