Puppy Love: How Getting a Dog Changed My Family (and Me)


“Hey, can you guys pray for me? My heart seems to be softening toward getting a dog.”

Puppy Love: How Getting a Dog Changed My Family (and Me) | Des Moines Moms Blog

The confession came with humility. For years, I’d been saying an absolute no. No to the hair on me and my stuff, no to the scratch marks on doors and wood floors, no to the messes—inside or out—no to the expenses of feeding and vets. I mean, why would I want to spend money on something that would mess up my house, inconvenience my life, and give me yet one more thing to take care of? No way!

My kids didn’t see it that way. The older two’s pleas had been rejected enough they’d finally quit asking. But the younger two hadn’t lost hope. They saw the fun and the love; I saw the mess and the money.

Then we built a house. I watched carpet be laid, wood floors be polished, woodwork be painted, and sod be planted. Standing admiring the still unmarred surfaces, I said, “Well, I guess that seals the deal—the twinnies won’t be getting a dog now.”

Oh, they got a neighbor dog, though. They’d run around the cul-de-sac with it, pick up its poop, and come home telling stories about it like it was one of the gang.

I watched this happening from inside my pet-less home. The laughter on their faces, the joy in their steps. And my well-reasoned no began feeling less and less fair.

I sat on my stirred feelings for several months. Maybe I’m just getting baby fever. Give it more time—it’ll pass.

But the more I ignored it, the more I began noticing. How many families in the neighborhood had dogs. How well-behaved that big one was. How cute that little one walking by. I wonder what breed he is. And look—this one doesn’t shed.

Finally, I confessed to my husband. And then to my mom and sister.

“Hey, can you guys pray for me? My heart seems to be softening toward getting a dog.”

A few months later, assurance came on the end of a leash. The cuteness of that puppy slipped a harness around my heart, and next thing I knew, I was asking its new owner some serious questions. In front of my kids.

And that was it. I was sure. I wanted a dog, I wanted a Cavachon, and I wanted it right now.

It wasn’t much longer until we found Cinder. Or she found us. And little did I realize how much she would change us.

Puppy Love: How Getting a Dog Changed My Family (and Me) | Des Moines Moms Blog

She Slowed Me Down

I struggle with inaccessibility. It’s my biggest weakness as a wife and a mom.

I’m a task-oriented person and an internal processer; so even if my body isn’t busy, my mind always is. Yes, I’m usually “there,” but too often I’m not “available.”

Puppy Love: How Getting a Dog Changed My Family (and Me) | Des Moines Moms BlogCinder has helped me with that. In the same way a baby brings you right into its world, demanding all selfishness be cast aside, so getting a puppy drew me out of myself. My agenda, my thoughts…. All the things I thought I had to be doing became much less important than simply just being.

I found myself sitting in the middle of the day, with her in my lap or just watching her play. No phone, no computer, no list in my hands, and a stillness in my soul that was like rain to parched land.

The very thing I’d thought would just add to my busyness became the thing that showed me how much I needed rest. I had filled my margins to the absolute max, thinking that was how to get the most of my time. But she slowed me down and let me find out the “most” that I needed was a lot more “less.”

She Brought Us Together

Something was wrong in our family. My husband had sensed it, and I was troubled by it, but I kind of felt powerless to change it.

I couldn’t see then what I can see now—what I needed to change was me. The same busyness in my heart that was consuming my attention had led my family to a drifting apart. I was occupied in my little world, so the kids were going increasingly to theirs. We had become too much like a house full of people doing all our own things, and I had been too busy to deal with it.

Then Cinder came. She slowed me down, and she centered us.

Instead of us scattering to our own little corners, we found ourselves gathered around our fun-loving puppy. For the first time in months, I felt like my kids actually wanted to be home. And for the first time in years, I believed that non-busy togetherness was the most productive thing we could be doing.

She Grew Our Capacity to Love

Friends have asked me why I changed my mind about getting a dog. What it boiled down to was love. Somewhere along the way, as my heart was softening, I realized my no was motivated by selfishness. Selfishness with my energy, selfishness with my time, selfishness with my stuff, but mostly, selfishness with my money.

Yeah, my reasons had been noble for a time—while we truly weren’t ready for a dog—but when I realized that I was choosing money for more stuff over the gift of something to love, my “no” no longer felt justified.

And so I said yes to love. What I didn’t know, though, was how much love. With half embarrassment and in fear of sounding crazy, I’ve had to gush to my family just how much I love her—that at times my heart feels as if it might burst.

I watch my kids, how they play with and care for her, and I wonder how they could’ve been happy without her.

Puppy Love: How Getting a Dog Changed My Family (and Me) | Des Moines Moms Blog

She is so very much a part of our family. And I dare say I love her like one of my kids.

Cinder has changed me, and she’s changed my family. We have more love and more laughter, more expenses, more mess; a little more commotion and a lot more rest.

What gift of love would change your family for the better?


  1. We just did this ourselves. My husband was not really comfortable with it he idea, as we have had a dog before , before the little’s were born, and things did not go well. It wasn’t a good time for us and my eldest had no interest in the sweet dog. Now that I have the 3 and 2 year olds, who every time we took a walk, had to go on a hunt for puppies before we headed home, I felt it was time. I wanted them to have a pet of their own they could play with, instead of searching the neighborhood for one. So when this puppy’s picture came up on facebook as a stray, and it’s owners didn’t come to claim him, I knew he was meant for us. Now I didn’t think I would chose a puppy, as they are a lot of work, I really wanted to get a older dog that I knew would be good with kids, but I seen his face and just felt right. So far he has been a great addition to the family. He enjoys playing with the kids, though has some learning not to bite as puppies do, and he sticks around the yard or walks along side us when we go for walks with out a leash on. The kids adore him and he has helped me quite a bit with my anxiety. I couldn’t be happier and I think the kids would agree. It will be nice to see them grow together.


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