When my first child was born, I remember being surprised by how I instantly fell in love with her. From the very second the doctor put my daughter in my arms, I was completely and totally in love. The same thing happened two years later when I had my son, and then again many years later when I first laid eyes on my newborn grandson. It surprised me because that’s not how I usually operate. I may decide that I like someone very quickly, but it usually takes a while to actually fall in love. For me, falling in love is a process that has to unfold in its own good time.
That was certainly the case with Finn, the dog we adopted from the animal shelter last February. When I first saw him sitting in his run, looking at me with friendly interest, I was immediately attracted. After spending some time with him at the shelter where he had to stay until he was neutered, I grew to like him very much. And when we first brought him home, I liked him even more. But I didn’t really love him, and he didn’t really feel like “my” dog.
It didn’t particularly worry me, because I know there’s always an adjustment period when we bring a new dog into our homes and that it takes time for us to get to know one another. We learned that Finn is a sweet soul who is very affectionate, energetic and just a little bit more stubborn that we’d prefer. (In Finn’s opinion, just because I’ve told him “no” forty-nine times when he tries to join me on the couch is no reason not to try for the fiftieth time. He is the eternal optimist.)
Finn’s persistence can be annoying, especially on the days when I’m babysitting my grandson and Finn insists on trying to share his toys and lick his face. I know that Finn would never intentionally hurt my grandson, but his attentions are sometimes overwhelming for a toddler and so I have to separate them a lot. And remind my grandson that Finn’s toys are not for children and remind Finn that my grandson’s toys are not for dogs. Over and over. Those are the times when I wonder just exactly why I selected a young terrier as our next family dog, rather than say, a fourteen-year old Basset Hound.
But honestly, it doesn’t matter why I picked out Finn, or how many annoying habits he happens to have. Because sometime in the past few months, it happened. I fell in love with Finn and his pushy little self. I still get annoyed with him from time to time, but he has definitely wormed his way into my heart and that’s where he’ll stay for the rest of his life. He’s my dog now, absolutely and completely.
As an animal shelter volunteer, I see so many dogs that are returned by their new owners just a few days after their adoption. I’m sure a few of those people have legitimate reasons for doing that, but I firmly believe that most of them are making a big mistake. “Just give it time,” I want to tell them. Because none of us are perfect, whether we walk on two legs or four paws. And all worthwhile relationships require a certain amount of effort and patience.
But if you trust and believe, the love will come…..