Sunday, May 31, 2015

Charlie and I are outnumbered: The adoption of Lady into our family

Since Charlie's human sister, Lily, entered the world, Charlie has felt a little less loved. It's not that we actually love him any less, however there have been times when Charlie may not have received the full attention he has become accustomed to because we were first taking care of Lily. The reality of having our first child radically shifted who we are and what we do. There has been much casual discussion (sometimes more serious than other times) about finding a canine friend for Charlie. Lily likes Charlie and he loves her, but we thought Charlie would appreciate having a permanent canine brother or sister.

We ultimately decided to take the steps to adopt a foster dog and submitted an application to Little White Dog Rescue, a non-profit organization in Omaha that rescues small dogs. Once our application was approved we frequently scouted the website and ultimately landed upon a four-year-old tricolor Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Samantha Jones. Last week we met her and she was a little timid, but sweet, and got along great with Charlie and Lily. Lily thought Samantha Jones was amazing; Charlie pretty much ignored her.

The first meeting went so well the foster mom left our house without the dog. Hours after our first meeting, we changed Samantha Jones' name to Lady. She immediately began exploring her new (to steal a tagline from Little White Dog Rescue) "furever home". Initially, Lady was very cautious around us. She cowered if we were anywhere near her and she liked to plant herself in places she appeared to deem safe: corners, along a wall, or in Charlie's bed. She enjoyed being held but froze when you moved toward her to pick her up. When left alone with Charlie in the back yard her demeanor changed completely. She followed Charlie everywhere and ran around happily. We quickly realized it would take some time for Lady to get used to us and feel comfortable around us.

Already, that is slowly happening. Lady still appears quite nervous but Charlie is her leader and she pretty much goes wherever he does. Immediately she wanted to cuddle with Charlie but he wasn't having it. Even though we bought extra dog beds for her both upstairs and downstairs, she claimed Charlie's. He nicely allowed her to use his beds and he sleeps in the new beds without complaint.

Lily loves her new dog sister, Lady. Charlie is starting to love Lady too. Charlie freely jumps up on the couch to snuggle with us while Lady hasn't quite figured out how to get up on the couch herself. She just waits near the foot of the couch and happily wags her tail until we pick her up to join us. The first time, there wasn't much room for her so she found her spot by laying on top of Charlie. He just allowed her to do whatever she wanted. He enjoyed having the extra cuddle-buddy.

The next day, I first picked Lady up before sitting on the couch, giving her dibs on the spot next to me. Charlie returned the favor by laying partially on top of her.

Charlie and Lady have quickly figured out it is much more comfortable snuggling when their human dad is out of the way.

Human friendships develop and transpire on various levels. Oftentimes instant connections are made between people and something just clicks making them inseparable. Other times friendship can be a more rocky terrain with trials and tribulations, full of tenuous situations or circumstances that somehow bond people together. Regardless of the journey friendships take, humans are social beings looking for connection. I see Charlie and Lady on their own unique friendship path. Dogs, too, are social beings.

I'm certain that Charlie and Lady will become great friends. It's only been a week and more time will help solidify how they change and grow along with our family.

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