For my baby shower, my sister gave me a stuffed sheep for Theo. It was white and very fluffy and as the months passed it became his favorite, named Baa. When he was not even two years old, we lost Baa at the pediatrician’s office. I frantically asked my sister to please send two backup Baas. I rotated them out so that they could be equally loved and interchanged. Then a laundry error revealed that we had two Baas in our possession. We lost one of the two last year when we came home from an overnight stay at a hotel without Baa. Down to one.
Somehow, in the past few weeks, the remaining Baa has disappeared. I don’t usually let him take Baa to other places, but sometimes he brings Baa in the car and I fear that the van door may have opened and Baa fell out at some point. We aren’t sure. But we definitely have not seen him. Theo went to bed a few nights sniffling over being unable to find Baa. I finally had to tell him that Baa might be gone. He cried. I looked online for the same Baa, but the only option would be a used one from Ebay.
When I was pregnant with Nelle, we were given a fluffy black and white dog with a little book. I don’t even remember who gave the gift, because after we lost her, I shoved it into a plastic tote along with all of her other things. Then we had Autumn and I brought out the dog, but it has been sitting in a basket of stuffed animals in her room, untouched so far. I took the black and white dog and told Theo that I wanted him to have it. I told him that when I was about his age, I had a small stuffed dalmatian dog named Puppy. I took Puppy to school one time and somehow lost him on the school bus. I was devastated. My mom called the school, but we never found Puppy. My mom got me a replacement dog – brown and white spots – that I named Pepper. It wasn’t Puppy. But I learned to love Pepper. I told him that this black and white dog was special because it was a gift for Nelle and I wanted him to have it. That I knew it couldn’t replace Baa, but that maybe he could learn to love it. He began carrying it around the house, calling it Fluffy.
Another special black and white dog has been in our lives for about eighteen months, and that is our actual dog, Penny. We got her to bring some joy into our lives after losing Nelle and Iris. She is sweet and cuddly and I could care for her in a way that I wanted to be caring for a baby. At that time, we did not know what the future held for us. We knew that a baby was a possibility, but it felt remote. We talked about the timing, and I knew that if a baby did not happen, I would want to already have the dog. Neither of us have ever owned dogs before. So we took the plunge.
Then we had the baby. And while Penny is not completely a “puppy” anymore, she is still a very young dog with a lot of energy. I found myself resenting the constant taking her outside, the attention, the needing to wake up at 7:00 am to take care of her when I’d been up several times with the baby. Ger and I talked, and we agreed that we did not need the extra stress in our lives and we would try to find a new home for her. I put up a posting in a neighborhood group that I’m in. Within an hour, I received a lengthy response from a couple that had a miniature schnauzer and two teenage daughters, living only a few miles from us that were very interested. With a few back-and-forths, we arranged for them to come over today to meet her.
I had to prepare Theo. Quentin didn’t care when I told him; he’s never been particularly attached to Penny. Theo began crying. I explained to him that Penny was there for us, when we needed her – but that with a baby it was now too hard and it wasn’t Penny’s fault or Autumn’s fault, but what would be best for Penny would be to have a family that could give her more attention than we could. I think he liked Penny and thought she was fun, and his reaction was more due to the fact that he was sad in the moment has an emotional personality but that in a few days he will be ok. Time will tell.
The couple came over and adored Penny. I told them that she had been named for the tv show LOST and they were fans of the show and loved it. I told them why we had brought her into our lives – that we had lost two babies – and that she had been the right fit for our family at the time. The woman became teary-eyed and said that they’d had trouble getting pregnant and had gotten their first dog for the same reason. We talked for awhile about all of her needs and routine and they asked if we would be willing to part with her today. I thought that was best, to just get it over with. We agreed that they would come back in a few hours after I had gathered up all of her things and could take some pictures and give the kids a chance to say goodbye.
I found myself more upset than I thought I would be, crying as I gathered her crate, toys, food, and everything else. I was relieved to be unburdened of dog ownership, but we had her for such a specific reason, so how could I help but be sad? Promptly at 4:00 the doorbell rang. The woman assured Theo that they will love Penny so much and send us pictures once she is settled in. I told her that it was “meant to be” (a phrase I never use lightly) that she and her husband were the first to reach out to me, that I knew that Penny would be in very good hands. I gave her a hug and the door closed. The house is quiet.
Theo decided to rename his stuffed dog “Penny.”