It was my son’s seventh birthday. We asked what he wanted. He told us. And so…
…we got a puppy.
A boy and his dog. Growing up together. How sweet. How classic. Our son is adopted. He comes from a hard place. He has struggled to attach, a long process of pendulum swings from safety to fear and back again. What a perfect gift for this boy we love so much: a puppy all his own to love too.
Trauma kids arrive with lacks, for instance eye contact, an understanding of cause and effect, and empathy. Trauma kids test and reject you. At the same time they cling with a choke hold. Some days our son follows my wife around, talking nonstop. One day she said, “Sweetheart, I really, really need to take a break.” He said, “Can I come with you?”
We’ve made huge progress, we’re proud of that, but it’s a lifelong journey. How excellent for this stage, we thought, to have a puppy. The puppy will make eye contact with those big, sad puppy eyes. Training the puppy will demonstrate cause and effect. Caring for the puppy will build empathy. All good, good, good.
Our puppy is a rescue. (In our oppressively hip neighborhood you will be lashed if you own a purebred.) She’s sleek and black and wickedly smart. She eats like a horse, has doubled in size, and we love her to pieces.
The trouble began with a corner of our baseboard molding. It looked like a beaver had attacked it. Of course it was Pup. Chewing. Everything. You dog owners can stop laughing now. It’s not funny. Our place is trashed. Carpets are rolled up and put away. When we set the table for dinner the dishes are pushed to the center. Pup also follows us everywhere. She sits outside the bathroom door and barks. She is needy, a bottomless bucket
There is so much we didn’t know or hadn’t considered. We were willfully blind. [Read more…]