You may have seen this little guy over on Instagram. His name is Bingley, and he’s our new pup.
A little over two weeks ago, a family member rescued this adorable abandoned lab/terrier mix that looks exactly like the poky little puppy. She immediately thought of our family, because our nearly twelve-year-old lab had recently died, and we knew we wanted to get a puppy again someday. Someday.
My first reaction was NOOOOOO. It had barely been two weeks since Harriet died—way too soon. We’d been thinking we might start looking in the fall.
But after some soul searching, Will and I tentatively agreed that even though it was too soon to look for a new puppy, it wasn’t too soon to open our hearts to a puppy that found us.
I happened to have a counseling appointment in place the day we were going to meet him for the first time, and we overthrew the session agenda for some heavy talk about grief and puppies and shame. My counselor agreed: it was too soon to seek but it wasn’t too soon to find.
We brought him home two weeks ago. He’s about 9 weeks old, we think. The first few days he spent most of his time sleeping in our laps. And then he seemed to wake up out of the perpetual puppy slumber, and got rowdy.
Bringing this little guy home has been quite a ride, emotionally, and that’s just the first two weeks.
When we started to consider adding a puppy to our family now, I was a whole lot afraid and a tiny bit excited, both emotions I expected. But I was stunned by all the shame triggers involved in getting a dog.
First I was ashamed that we were even considering getting a puppy so soon. Then I was beating myself over some decisions I made in the first few days.
Then, when our vet told us that Bingley was definitely on the rambunctious end of the spectrum, and that he just possibly wouldn’t be a good fit for our family with small children, I was deeply ashamed that I’d possibly made a huge mistake, and opened my kids up to even more grief about another dog.
I was explaining all this to a friend, and told her that maybe I’d just been reading too much Brené Brown lately. My friend hasn’t read any of her books, but she knows about puppies, and she knows about shame: as a special needs parent, she was well-versed in what triggers it, and why, and how to combat it.
She reminded me that we’re making the best decisions we can with the information we have, and that our vet has been pleasantly surprised at how well he’s responding to informal training so far. He can be rowdy, but his behavior is typical for a rescue pup, and he’s already mellowing a bit.
A note about the name: it’s from Pride and Prejudice, and the kids know it, and I still can’t believe they agreed to give our puppy a name from Jane Austen. But it was the only name that everyone liked (and we had quite a long list), and it didn’t hurt that they knew Bingley is the charming guy that everyone loves. (Sarah, age 10: We could never name him Darcy.”)
Thanks for listening to this real-life update. I wanted to give you the lowdown because Bing will probably be sneaking into these posts, and it’s tough to not over-gram his cute little self.
And seriously. Wish us luck. (Got any tips? Hit me.)