We got a second dog! Eek!
Nope. Not a small dog. A big dog.
Yes, we know we already have a big dog.
Yes. We know we're a touring folk band who live in a little camper.
No. There isn't enough room. But there never will be until you make room.
This all started back in August when we were in Rapid City, South Dakota. Our rubber roof was ballooning up every time we drove down the road and the side of the camper was coming off. We had just woken up from a nap after spending two days trying to repair it ourselves and Mallory, waking with a start said, "By the end of this year we're going to have another dog." Now, this is something she has been saying since we got the camper. "Butter needs a sister" or "twooooo dogs?" And for a while, even though she was clearly joking, I'd say "no" and remind her that, "you know, we live in a 16ft camper." But for whatever reason, this time I just said, "Hmmm. Okay."
The next day we drove back to the Camping World we were parked at for the week and right in front of the store were, of all things, crates of dogs up for adoption. Now, if you've never seen Mallory doing something bad before, it goes like this: her knees bend a little so she can dart off at any minute and she gets a mischievous grin on her face while her big brown eyes get even bigger and browner and she says "I'm not doing anything bad" and then she goes and does something bad, which in this case was going to look at those dogs out in front of Camping World. I went and looked at them, too. And they were cute. But none of them were our dogs. Mallory always describes the moment she knew that Butter was her dog; they locked eyes across the room at the shelter as Butter was coming in from her latest failed foster home and Butter walked right up to Mallory and started leaning on her. She was a goner after that. This did not happen with these dogs. But it got us talking about what we wanted in another dog and we both agreed. We wanted a dog like Butter. Similar temperament. Similar size. A pal. Someone who sleeps all day.
After speaking this dog into existence, 30 minutes later The Universe tagged us in a Facebook post that read "Are you looking for a dog just like Butter? Her look-alike was just found wandering the street in Huntsville, AL and she'll be up for adoption in September." September happened to be the time we had to take the camper in for all the repairs we couldn't fix ourselves and the subsequent re-routing would take us right through Huntsville. We started asking questions and found out that she was 7 months old, roughly Butter's size with lots of skin to grow into. And after seeing a picture of the little one, we knew this was our dog.
So we dropped off the camper for a month in Nashville and homeless, the three of us drove down to Huntsville to meet the new dog. We instantly fell in love with her and the way her roly poly skin became a puddle when she'd lay down on the floor, which is practically all she does. And so when we said, "We'll take her" we decided to name her Mud Puddle. Pud for short. In addition to sleeping, Puddle likes to eat, but gets exhausted by the process and has to lie down in the middle of her meal.
We took her to Birmingham, to our friend Keith's house, where we'd be staying for a couple days and almost as soon as we got there the fear set in and we realized we'd made a huge mistake. Butter and Pud didn't seem to be getting along, with growling and territorial behavior, and they didn't bond instantly like we dreamed and so after waking up at 4:30AM, stressed out and anxious we waited until 7AM to call the foster parents and tell them we made a huge mistake and that we wanted to take her back. We couldn't handle it. It was too much. And so, when Monday came around we drove her to a Cracker Barrel halfway between Birmingham and Huntsville, Scott crying the entire way up and Mallory the entire way back down, and we gave our dog back to her foster parents.
The stress didn't go away though. It was just replaced with a new fear: that we'd given up our dog.
Our friend Angie said that sometimes things come into your life in order to grow your heart for a bigger love. And so we started trying to think of what The Pud was trying to teach us to love. Patience, probably. To be okay with the not knowing? To love the not yet? That sometimes when the roof peels back and the sides come off it's okay to freak out about it? All of those things. To accept our friends for who they are? To be kinder to each other? We started talking about our feelings again and about why we wanted another dog and why we just couldn't do it right then and how hard it was to be always moving when we each craved permanence. I started making room for my own feelings. And then I made room for my partner's. And every feeling sat there in the same room, bumping up against one another, and all we could hear was the calm and constant sound of wind chimes.
And as our hearts were growing we found that we had made room for that little 83 pound Puddle.
So, last Sunday we drove over to Huntsville the afternoon before we got our camper back and picked up The Pud. We learned some tricks ourselves from a behaviorist on how to introduce Pud into our pack. And we loaded her into the back of the truck, and Butter rode in the front seat and we started our lives as a family of four.
Butter and Pud are getting along nicely, as we hoped they would. They played a game of Titan's Romp in our pal Ryan's backyard. Then Butter introduced Pud to her best German Shepherd friend, Bella, in our other pal Bryan's backyard. In our short couple of days, Pud has learned her name and Butter has learned to share her water bowl. We are learning to share our arms with both dogs and each other. And we all feel pretty complete, as near as we can tell. For all that uncomfortable stretching of our hearts this last month, everything is fitting just right now. Even in a tiny, 16 foot cardboard box of a camper.