My dad was on the other line. "So, I got this dog. And dammit! I don't need a dog! Y'all want this dog. She's really good..."
I don't remember consulting with Kamron on it. I do remember picking up the puppy from my dad's house and bringing her home. I named her Emma- because the newlywed in me had already picked out our firstborn daughter's name and Emma was my favorite baby girl name in the wide world. Had I thought this through, I would have saved the name for a human child, but alas, I was 21 and thought that I knew everything. Emma Terry it was. Later on down the road she became Emma Stiltskin Terry. Like Rumplestiltskin, but without the Rumple.
That first night, Kamron's sister brought over a crate and some toys. I went to the store and stared at dog food. We couldn't afford dog food. Heck, we were practically eating dog food ourselves. But I picked up the cheapest bag of puppy chow they had and took it home to that cute, little, yellow puppy.
Our first night with Emma (we were 21 and 24 and dumb as rocks)
We were in love. For about 5 minutes. It was night time and we were tired, so we put that cute, little, yellow puppy in the pen so that she wouldn't destroy the house while we slept. The pen was wide and about 3 feet tall. We turned our backs on the pen and started walking toward bed. Suddenly, the dog was back under foot. Surely this must have been a fluke. We must not have latched the door all the way.
We put the puppy back in, patted her little head and told her to go to sleep. We turned around again and out the puppy jumped. It was like she was training for the Olympics. She did that three foot jump from a sitting position like it was nothing. Kamron went out to the garage and found a big piece of sheet rock that fit just perfectly over the top of the pen.
"We are smarter than this puppy!" we told ourselves! We congratulated ourselves on our ingenuity and went to bed. The puppy, however, did not. She whined. She rattled the pen. And she jumped. She jumped and she jumped and she jumped. She hit that piece of sheet rock over and over and over again until she had taken the black off of her nose. No lie- the dog's black nose, just rubbed off on the sheet rock. Then that little puppy began to eat the sheet rock.
We looked at each other and said, "We have this great fenced in yard! Let's just put the dog out there for the night and come up with another plan in the morning!" So that's what we did.
And then morning came... I woke up at the crack of dawn to answer the phone. I was working as a substitute teacher at the time and the sub line was calling. I took a job and then went outside to hang with my Emma and love on her before work. I opened the door to the backyard fully expecting that little thing to bolt right in. Didn't happen. I walked out into the back yard and looked all over for her. She was gone.
Yep- we were horrible dog owners who lost their dog on the very first day. I called and cancelled my substitute job. I ran to the store and bought some poster board and markers. I remember going around the house and collecting change to go buy the poster board since it wasn't a regular expense in our budget. I put signs up all over the neighborhood that announced our lost dog with our phone number. I called my dad and told him we'd lost his dog. "In one night?" he said. Yep- we were bad people.
Around mid afternoon, a mechanic in the neighborhood called and said that Emma had been hanging out at his shop watching him fix cars. We went and picked her up and brought her back home. We tried to come up with a better solution and didn't get anything in place by nighttime. We had a huge rope and thought that if we tied her to the deck, it would keep her from getting out while we slept until we could come up with something better.
We though this was a good idea, until someone knocked on the door and said, "Ma'am your dog is hanging." Ummmm? What? I walked outside and sure enough- there was that dumb dog hanging. She had jumped the fence and the rope only had enough slack for her back legs to hit the ground after her fence leap and the rest of her was hanging.
We sucked at being dog parents. The only thing we had learned about our two days with a dog, was that it was a lot of work and that we weren't going to be ready for kids for a loooooong time. Which means that God laughed and we got pregnant that same exact week.
We finally found our groove. Emma grew. And grew and grew and grew. And my belly grew and grew and grew. And we figured out life together- Me and Kamron and Emma.
And then our little Sadie was born. We brought home that baby girl and something changed in our dog. She became a protector. She'd jump on anybody and everybody, but around the baby, she was an angel. Don't get me wrong- she was still such an escape artist that our neighbors all called her "Houdini" and she still ate stuff like sticks and dirt and electrical wiring, and destroyed pretty much everything we owned. But we were a family- the four of us.
And then there was Noah. We moved right before Noah was born and our Emma had new places to explore. I've never seen a dog with a wild hair to roam so badly in my life. Once she even ended up in Cincinnati almost two hours away and we still somehow managed to get her back.
When Marley and Me came out, we were certain they made that movie about our Emma. She pulled crazy antics, like eating rat poison and still managed to stay alive. That dog was indestructible. She was ridiculously dumb. Yet she was so loyal, and she was a fierce lover of our children.
She watched them play in the backyard. She was always there, just looking over them, protecting them. They loved her. And we loved her. When times were hard and we realized that Noah had some special needs that we weren't sure how to deal with, there were many times when I would just cry and curse when I would go outside to let Emma out and she took it all in. When Miles came home and he was terrified of her, it was almost like she turned into an old dog overnight and compensated for his fear by become extra gentle. Our dog was a champ while Miles' psychologist worked though some fear therapy with Miles and while Miles screamed and screamed around her, she would just lay there and look at him- almost like she knew it was her job to help him transition to life in a family and by being calm and still she was helping him figure out life.
Emma loved the water. Once we took her out on my dad's boat and she jumped right into the lake. She had such a ball swimming- that is, until we couldn't figure out how to get that 90 pound dog back into the boat. It was a 5 man operation getting that soaking wet creature back on the boat- but for her it was worth every minute. She also loved the creek and would wander through the creek with her mouth open just letting the water rush in. But she seemed most content when the sun was shining and the kids were playing around her. Just like a proud mama- she'd watch their every move. Sometimes she's wear a look on her face like she was as proud as she could be of them and at other times that expression said, "Why won't these kids just shut up!" Yep- just like a mama.
For ten years, Emma blessed our lives. She watched us grow up. She watched us build a family. She watched our children come home and grow and thrive. She turned our backyard into a land mine. She took tons of our money that we didn't always have. She loved unconditionally. She was the one constant in our ever changing lives. She was gentleness personified. There's just something about a family dog.
Last week, we had to say goodbye to our sweet Emma. It was her time. She'd grown old and could no longer walk. By the end, she couldn't even lift her head. She spent her last two week staring at our Christmas tree while the excitement of the kids grew with the impending holiday. It was almost like she was soaking up memories.
We miss her. We miss that giant tail wagging and thumping the floor constantly. We miss that goofy grin. We miss that dog stench and we miss those licks. It's hard to let go of a pet. She was here before our children and they don't know life without their dog. We had a funeral for her and our kid's each said a few words over her and it broke my heart to watch them grieve her passing.
It's a different life, getting used to her not being here. But we'll see her again, on that rainbow bridge. Thank you, Emma girl, for being such an amazing part of our family!
Over the years...
It started with towels, then furniture, then air conditioners (yes, this dog was responsible for knocking out the A/C during my 8th months of pregnancy!)...
Baby Sadie- January 2004
Baby Noah- April 2007
Always standing guard! Summer 2009
For me a house becomes a home when you add one set of four legs, a happy tail, and that indescribable measure of love that we call a dog. ~Roger Caras