We Got It Right.

Duncan.

Duncan monkan, monkan, monkan man, duncan dog, duncan skunkan, dut-dut, nun-nun, nunin, duck-a-nin, duh-nin, duck-dog, or duncan doo. Whatever you choose to call him…

Our boy is six months old today.

There was a time not too long ago when I wasn’t sure he’d live to see his six month birthday. Man, he was bad. Seriously, bad. In the first few months we had him I hated him more than I liked him. I yelled at him more than I petted him. I used the word no more than I used his name, and I pried things out of his mouth more than I played with him.

I thought we were in way over our heads. I thought we were idiots. I thought we were the dumbest parents in the world to decide to add a puppy to our already chaotic household. I didn’t know why we did it. I wondered if he’d be better suited somewhere else. I wondered if I’d care if we did take him somewhere else.

But somewhere in the last couple months I’ve learned…

We got it right.

We got it so very right.

We could not have picked out a better addition to this family than this:

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You see, we wanted a dog for ourselves, sure, but we really wanted a dog for Leah. Someone she could grow up with. Someone she could take care of and be responsible for. Someone she could learn from, talk to, play with, and love on.

We were specific in our desires, too. You can judge us for not rescuing or not adopting – but we wanted a pure bred chocolate lab. We wanted to name him Duncan. We wanted to pick him out of a litter. We wanted him to be dark brown, gigantic, and have pretty blue eyes. We had talked about “him” for the past seven years.

And we got him. And delivered him to Leah on September 1, 2012.

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And… she wasn’t interested in the slightest. This is actually her trying to get away from him. She was jealous of him, and she did not want him anywhere around her toys. He jumped on her and she was even more upset. I questioned the fact that she even liked animals the way she was acting. I thought we just wasted X amount of dollars and were going to live in misery for the next 12-14 years. He continued to follow her though, and she couldn’t ignore him for long.

I guess I just needed to give it time – because in the next few days I could see something really develop between the two of them.

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Leah started learning that if she threw her toys he would chase them. If she clapped her hands he would run to her. If she sat in his bed he would follow her. And if she dropped food off her high chair he would sit directly underneath her.

She started learning how to be a friend. How to take care of something. And how to play with a furry little thing that couldn’t talk but only wanted to be next to her at all times.

Then he started getting bad. Like eating the $120 baby monitor bad. Like peeing in the house bad. Like chewing our bed frame bad. Like shredding a box of kleenexes bad. And I started having my doubts all over again. Sure, she likes him – but she’d be fine without him? Maybe we’re not ready. I can’t handle both of them. All he does is cause problems.

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Bad.

But I couldn’t ignore the fact that she liked him. She more than liked him, she was becoming consumed by him. They started doing everything together, like playing in dirt:

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And watching the world go by:

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And learning how to play the xylophone together:

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And going to the park together:

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And resting together:

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The more I watched their relationship develop, the more I was determined to give him a chance. And even try to be nice to him. And really try to like him. What I was seeing with them was something I’d always wanted for my kids -to have a best friend in a dog, and to learn from a dog.

So with that I started giving him an honest effort on my part. I started forcing myself to realize that we chose him for his craziness, and we couldn’t blame him. And I started realizing that he was a dog… and that meant I had to work with him… a lot… to give him a place with his human family.

And it worked! Somewhere in the last couple of months I have fallen in love with this animal. Maybe he’s grown up a little, too, but I have stopped doubting the fact that we are dog people, and I am realizing that we got it right. I love cuddling him and playing with him and walking him. I love how he makes us get outside when we’d rather be lazy, and throw baseballs for him when we’d rather sit. I love that we laugh at him more than we yell at him now, and we try really hard to include him in everything we do.

Kyle, we got it right!

We have given Leah an irreplaceable friend. And if I have to give him acne medicine twice a day so he has a clear face… I’ll do it. Because, do you know what… after I paint her nails the first “person” she shows them to is her dog:

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And he always approves of the color.

They watch her show together every day, and he always pretends to know what’s going on so they can talk about it later:

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I catch them having tea parties together in her bedroom sometimes, and he never complains that she always spills it:

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She is learning to read by reading to her big brother, and he never rushes her or makes fun of her when she doesn’t know any of the words:

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When she isn’t paying attention to him for a second, he waits patiently beside her:

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Knowing that she’ll always come back to him when she’s finished:

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There is something special happening around here between these two. Leah asks for Duck-dog (her version of Duncan-dog) from the second she opens her eyes in the morning. She looks straight past me to make sure her favorite friend is right behind me. She starts saying his name when we leave stores, knowing we’ll be returning to him shortly. She waves bye to him when we leave, and hugs his neck when we return.

He showers her with slobbery licks. He is always happy to see her when she wakes up. He doesn’t mind sharing his bed with her. He loves fetching the toys she throws for him and chasing her around the house as she giggles and squeaks. He loves overseeing her bath time, and giving her bedtime kisses. He is calm while she pokes his eyes, inspects his feet, picks his nose, pulls his tail, and looks in his floppy ears. He doesn’t mind when she sits on him or tries to dress him. He is a perfect playmate:

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As if he knows that she is learning for the first time how to truly care for something… he is always patient.

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He is big and sweet and kind and crazy, but I have no doubt the second someone came too close to Leah that shouldn’t be… he would turn into something to fear. And I am grateful for that. I love watching him watch her in her room. He assumes the role of big brother as he commands post on her lamb. He watches her every move. A lot of times I feel like I could leave her home alone and he would actually take care of  her:

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They are like an old married couple, best friends, siblings, buddies, cousins, and litter mates all rolled into one.

And they’ve most certainly got the unconditional love thing figured out. My oh my.

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Happy half birthday to our Duncan monkan man – I can honestly say all three of us are happy to have him here with us. We love you, you crazy nut.

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