Thursday, May 23, 2013

Daughters and Dogs

Sibling rivalry is a constant in our house. I didn't think it was possible for my 13 year old to talk to my 9 year old in anything but a sarcastic tone of voice. Until this morning.

What changed? Two additions to the family. Meet Lucy and Bella. Lucy's the one wearing the pink harness upside down. Bella's the one licking Princess Q's face. These two sisters joined our family last night. They came to us from a friend who's family is being deployed (?? Is this even the right term?) to Spain in a couple of months.

It was hard to take the dogs from a loving family and watch their tears at the separation. I still feel a little guilty for being the cause of pain. But here we are, teaching the kids how to use leashes, brushes, pooper-scoopers, how and when to feed and how much, and mostly learning new personalities.

Now, it's only day one of dogs. We made it through the first night after I learned that they don't like sleeping upstairs in their kennel. Once midnight hit, the growling and barking started. They reminded me more of kittens waking up than dogs. I let them outside in case maybe my husband had put them in the kennel too early and they needed a potty break, but that didn't solve anything.

So I moved their kennel to the basement, and it was like magic! Everyone slept well, dogs and humans both.

This morning an amazing thing happened. My 13 year old was letting the dogs outside for their morning potty break, but couldn't get Lucy to come up the stairs. So she and my nine year old worked together to carry/encourage Lucy up the stairs. The way my daughters interacted over solving this problem was amazing to me. I observed the kids working together to take care of animals they'd just met, and realized that these children of mine are pretty fantastically awesome. Not a drop of sarcasm as they talked and problem solved. There were even a couple of giggles!! *gasp*

These dogs seem to be the needed glue to help my girls bond. And apparently develop a love for yardwork. Honest, this morning the kids were up before my alarm clock so they could clean the back patio so the dogs would enjoy running around outside more. /blink/ They were ready for school in a heartbeat, and spent the rest of their morning playing with the dogs and sweeping up cherry blossoms.

I find this amazingly interesting, since I got the dogs with two things in mind: my son needed company during the day that have as much energy as he does, and my nine-year old needed something to love her just as much as she loves it in only the way a pet can. I had no idea there would be all these other benefits.

Granted, it's only day one of dog ownership. I'm sure there will be bumps in the road. The newness of scooping poo and walking dogs will wear off. Nor do I expect all sarcasm to be gone from my 13 year-old and that she'll now be best friends with her younger sister. She IS thirteen, after all. But so far I'm liking this road we're on, and am extremely glad we made the decision to add the beagles to our family.

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