Until Bella was nearly 3, she’d never known any other pet but our cats. She adored all three of them, but they hated her. I think it was due to all the curious tail pulling she did when she was learning to walk.
We’d always believed that it was good for a child to grow up with pets around. Bella learned about caring for them, watched us take them to the vet, and natural consequences (within reason) came into play when she got a little too rough.
After we lost our twin boys last May, my heart hurt for her expectations of little brothers to care for that didn’t materialize. Sam and I started talking about getting a dog, but each shelter we visited had ones that were quite old or sick. We wanted a younger one so that Bella could grow up with it, and a healthy dog for less stress initially on us.
One night I was browsing Craigslist and stumbled on a picture of this little dog:
I completely fell in love, and upon showing it to Sam he said, “Call them now.” Even though it was 8pm, we called and the family asked to meet that evening. They were moving and couldn’t take him with them, so we ended up with a baby Beagle/Chihuahua mix (Cheagle) to bring home. Bella was enamored with this little dog we named Charlie. From his tiny paws to the squeaky way he barked. She cried when we had to put her to bed that night since she’d be away from him.
Over this past year of having Charlie, she’s learned a great deal about animals. She’s watched us as we took him to puppy training, cleaned up after him, and got up at all hours when he ate an entire box of chocolates. She’s seen him go crazy with joy when we come home from a long trip, has been designated the job of choosing his toys, and keeps a sharp eye on him when he’s around her toys.
Just like a sibling in many ways, he gets into her things and she cries (sometimes she bonks him on the head). He loves to watch her eat in hopes of a dropped bit, and she screams at him to “Stop looking at me Chawie!”
They are best friends. She refuses to go outside without him, and he follows her all over the house while she plays. We took him to Colorado with us this Christmas, she in her car seat and him in the cage on the seat next to her. She’d chatter to him in between asking if we were there yet.
I love their relationship. It warms my heart to know that she loves him and will grow up with him – they both will only remember each other from the beginning.
Diana blogs at Diana Wrote about her life with a daughter here and three sons in heaven, life as an army wife, and her faith. You can also find her work on Liberating Working Moms, She Reads Truth, The New York Times, Still Standing Magazine, and The Huffington Post. Smaller glimpses into her day are on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
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