I have always been a dog person. Wait, I take that back. When I was little, I was afraid of dogs. Close family friends of mine had a chocolate lab. I vividly remember turning around as a 3-year-old, staring an 80-pound dog straight in the face. I don’t know about you, but to me being eye to eye with a creature larger than my scrawny toddler self was terrifying. I ran away screaming, and swore off dogs. A giant like that had to be evil, right? Fast forward to my sophomore year of high school, would you think I would be begging for a yellow lab of my own? Yeah, me either, but dogs can be magical that way.
My entire family was made up of dog people. Everyone had dogs. My aunts, uncles, and cousins had dogs, my parents each grew up with dogs, my grandma was so much of a dog person that she pretended to be allergic to cats. That’s not even a joke. So, imagine how hard it was to be afraid of dogs in that family.
Enter six-year old Nikki. I knew something had to be done. Even at a young age, I was determined to overcome my fear. My neighbors had gotten a small maltese puppy. My mom, being the angel that she is, came up with the idea that if I played with a smaller, less intimidating dog, I would be less afraid. So, the neighbors came over for a playdate. I decided on that day that I wanted a dog of my own. If I had my own dog, I wouldn’t be afraid of them anymore, right?
So, my parents began to search for the perfect fit for our family. It turns out that the perfect fit was at a rescue over four hours away. We were on our way to see the litter of puppies that had just been rescued, when the shelter called and said there were only two left to adopt. We were still hours away, so we would have to pick our pup based on a single picture of the litter. They let me choose, and I picked the “chocolate-colored” puppy, we were travelling to Hershey, Pennsylvania to see her after all. We named her after her place of adoption, Hershey, and when we finally got there to see her, I got to hold her in our family picture. At just four weeks old, she wasn’t scary at all, literally the size of a guinea pig. Four weeks later, we could go pick her up. Unfortunately, strep throat had other plans, so I couldn’t take the trip to pick her up. Instead, my grandpa and my dad went to pick up our newest family member. I bet you’re expecting to hear that I was super excited and completely over my fear the second she got home, right? I wish it were that easy.
I walked on the furniture for a whole week. Yep, you heard that right. I was so terrified of the tiny mutt, that I wouldn’t even step foot on the floor. So much for getting over my fear. Slowly, though, I inched my way closer to the ground, and she inched her way into my heart. Soon, we were inseparable, playing together whenever possible. Hershey was a part of our family. I couldn’t imagine life without our furry companion. When Hershey was diagnosed with cancer and had to be put down during my sophomore year of high school, we were heartbroken. We realized then, more than ever, that our family was incomplete without a dog. My mom was hesitant to adopt another dog after our recent heartbreak, but sometimes dogs know what you need more than you do. Our Charlie was up for adoption weeks after Hershey’s passing. We went to visit, just to play with the puppies, and wound up bringing him home a few weeks later. We couldn’t say no to a sweet pup like him. We fell in love immediately, and felt whole again. When I moved out and went away to college a few years later, the hardest part was being away from my sweet boy.
When it came time to move out officially and I decided to move in with my boyfriend, Ryan, it was weird to live without a dog. Having grown up with a dog of his own, it was weird for Ryan, too. We knew that we needed to save up and find a dog to adopt as soon as possible. We started our search. It is super important to both of us to adopt because there are so many animals out there in need of a loving home. Unfortunately, our apartment had a weight limit on pets, making our search a bit tricky. So, when Theo came into our lives, it was clearly fate. A small mutt just two and a half hours away with the most responsive rescue owner possible, it couldn’t have been a more perfect fit. Days later, we were on our way to pick him up. It was like a fairytale.
July 12, 2019. That is the day our happily ever after began. Our family grew by four paws, the four paws that would change our lives forever. Despite the potty training challenges, late night barking, chewing up of the carpet, and constant need for attention, I wouldn’t change a thing. Theo has brought so much joy to our lives and changed the meaning of love for us. I couldn’t imagine life without my little fur baby. Being a dog mom has given me so much happiness, and I know that there are so many others out there who share this joy. Welcome to the community where dog moms unite! Let’s share all the ups and downs, lifesaving products, DIY projects, and four-legged kiddos that make being a dog mom such a fairytale. Welcome to Happily Ever Dog Mom!