The Rockwood Files: We Are Family

By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3

Tom and I have kept our end of a deal we made two years ago with our oldest son, Adam. When he was 8, he asked if he could have a dog of his own and we told him that, when he was 10-years-old, we’d consider it.

In what seemed like the blink of an eye, two years zipped by. Adam turned 10 and reminded us about the dog promise. I thought of a zillion good reasons why we did NOT need a new puppy right now, — the house training, the chewing, obedience training, vet appointments, and plenty of extra time and effort.

But I also couldn’t deny how much I loved my own dog when I was Adam’s age. I want that experience for him, too.

So we began the search for a dog, and – like so many modern match-making efforts – we cruised the Internet to find him. Last week Adam pointed to a small photo on a website and said “I think I found him.”

He was a 5-month-old rescued stray being fostered in a town two hours away. His online profile said he was on his way to a Petsmart store where he would spend one Saturday afternoon making sad puppy eyes at all the shoppers in hopes of being adopted. So we all loaded into the minivan and set off to meet him in real life.

During the ride to the pet store, I told the kids this was just a doggie date – not necessarily a dog we’d take home with us. We’d need to make sure he had the right temperament, that he was healthy, that he wouldn’t get too big to have in the house. They nodded in agreement.

Then we walked through the pet store doors and caught a glimpse of him – a small, sweet Beagle mix puppy curled up on the lap of a shelter volunteer. I reached out to touch his velvety ear as he looked up at me. And even though he has outgrown the tiny puppy stage, I could tell he was still very much a baby. More importantly, he was a baby who needed a mama. My heart had already taken him in. All that was left to do was the paperwork.

An hour later, we left with a new doggie crate, a harness, a leash, some dog food and a new member of the family – Charlie, the Beagle baby. The kids are crazy about him, and so is Tom. Percy the cat is irritated by the whole situation and glares her disapproval. Our 14-year-old backyard dog, E.J., is mildly amused by Charlie’s enthusiasm and seems happy to have some canine company.

As for me? I can’t stop mothering him. The first time I held him, I found myself swaying back and forth the same way I did when the kids were babies and woke up at 2 a.m. needing comfort.

So far, Charlie is doing really well except for one annoying habit. Often I take him out and exercise all my maternal patience as he leisurely sniffs every tree, bush and blade of grass in our yard. After I’m sure he has had plenty of time to take care of business, we go back inside where he immediately attempts to use my living room carpet as his puppy toilet. Obviously, we’ve got a lot more training to do.

But that’s okay. When sweet Charlie curls up in my lap and has a puppy dream, paws and nose twitching in his sleep, I forgive him for all the extra floor scrubbing. Because he’s ours now. He is family.

Gwen Rockwood is a mom to three great kids, wife to one cool guy, a newspaper columnist and co-owner of To read previously published installments of The Rockwood Files, click here.


1 Comment

  1. Hi Gwen,

    Enjoyed the beagle story. We do relive our childhood experiences through our children and our grandchildren. I know you are not there yet but it is all about family.

    Get out the wipes and the Lysol and have fun.

    God Bless,

    Trish (a.k.a. Jennifer’s Mom)

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