As I’ve written about before, my husband Jason and I have been unable to have children. Now that we’re in our late 30s (36 is considered late, right?) we have been questioning if we want to have them at all. My Aunt Jennie and Uncle Charlie decided that they didn’t want any children and instead spoiled many children in their lives, myself included! Instead of a houseful of children, Jennie and Charlie always had a house/yard full of dogs. It’s almost like a Dr. Seuss story — big dogs, short dogs, tall dogs, fat dogs, thin dogs…you get the idea.
Thinking back, I can remember a time when they had more than 10 dogs at once. A few of them were penned up outside dogs, but many of them had free range of the yard and the house via the doggie door. I loved spending the night at Jennie and Charlie’s to hang out with them and be spoiled, but a plus was getting to hang out with all the dogs. I typically slept on the pullout couch in the living room while I was staying overnight and the dogs always wanted to sleep with me. Jennie laughs about a time that they came out of their bedroom and couldn’t tell where I ended and dogs began because there were at least five on the bed with me. But I loved it and them!
Because of this, I knew I wanted a dog when I moved out on my own. I was pretty sure I wanted more than one. I also knew I probably couldn’t afford to feed 10 of them, but I wanted to have a few dogs.
In 2008, Jason and I moved in together and our landlord told us we could have pets if we wanted to. I immediately wanted a dog! But we didn’t get one. So as May 2009 approached (when I graduated from Georgia Southern), the only thing I wanted for a graduation gift was a puppy. I looked at local pet rescue photos, at breeders and everywhere else to determine what kind of dog I wanted. I felt like I wanted to get a rescue dog just because they need someone to love them.
In April 2009, my now-sister-in-law Cassie called me and told me she had three puppies that she’d found and wanted to know if we wanted one. Of course I did, but I had to make sure Jason was on board. He was! So that’s how Maggie came into our lives. We had no idea what kind of dog she was but she was perfect for us. She’ll be 13 by the time you’re reading this column.
As a pup, she chewed on things but not in a very destructive manner. She was easy to house train, easy to teach tricks and was very laid back and loved everyone we introduced her to. She loved car rides (as long as the windows were down) and loved treats and people food.
Then in April 2015, I called Jennie for a chat and she didn’t answer. Which was weird — she was usually home by that time (I always called her home phone). She called me from her cell and said, “I know I probably missed your call; I was stopped on the side of the road feeding the cutest little puppy some Zaxby’s chicken fingers. I can’t take her home because Biscuit will kill her but I felt so sorry for the little thing.”
I knew I was being manipulated, but I didn’t care. I had been asking Jason for a second dog for a little while by that time. So I said, “What road?”
Well, guess what road was less than 100 yards from where I was driving? Yep — Gator Road. I asked her where the puppy was. Jennie giggled knowing exactly what was happening as she described what part of the road I could find the little girl dog on.
“I’ll call you back.”
As I hung up the phone, I heard her singsong voice: “Jason’s gonna kill you…Jason’s gonna kill you.”
I got out of the car and the tiniest little pup came out of the grass by the abandoned house and she was the CUTEST thing. Tri-colored and seriously tiny. She was dirty and gross so I grabbed a towel out of my trunk (not sure why it was in there but whatever). I wrapped her up in it and held her close to me and I drove home. I called Jennie back and she said something along the lines of “You’ve got that puppy, don’t you?”
I replied, “You knew I would go get her, didn’t you?”
At this point, Jason was working night shift so I took her home and cleaned her up a little bit and laid her wrapped up in a (clean) towel on the bed next to Jason and woke him up. He was very skeptical about keeping another dog (especially since she was completely unplanned) but I told him that we could give her to Cassie who had recently lost one of her dogs if he wanted to. My Uncle Charlie had always joked that if a dog “peed in our yard, it was staying.” I told Jason that if we were going to use that logic, she had to stay because she had peed outside before I brought her in. I was joking of course, but I did tell him that if she spent the night, she was going to be there forever. He had to leave for work by 9 p.m. I told him, if by 9 p.m. you haven’t told me that I have to get rid of her, then I’m not getting rid of her.
8:59 p.m.: Jason’s throwing his lunchbox over his shoulder and getting ready to walk out the door. I said “This is your last chance, last time to say she has to go. I’ve got a name picked out and if she stays here, she’s ours.”
Jason kissed me goodbye and went to his truck. And so, Molly became a part of our family. She was not as friendly as Maggie. I’ve always called her “sketchy.” She likes to sit off and judge you. (She sort of reminds me of myself. She either likes you, hates you, or just doesn’t know how she feels about you, but it’s probably that she’s only tolerating you.
In April 2018, Jason and I moved into our own home. We went from a two-bedroom 800-ish square foot home with two dogs to a 2,200 square foot, 4-bedroom home with two baths and two living rooms. PLENTY of room for a third dog. I waited a little while and started my mission of getting another dog.
Molly has a lot of separation anxiety when it comes to Maggie. The few times we’ve taken Maggie to the vet without Molly, Molly has paced the house, whining and looking for her sister. We have a few “doggie cams” in the house so we could see, in real-time, what Molly was doing. And it was stressing her out to be at home with neither of her humans and without her sister. This broke my heart. I knew that Maggie was getting older and at that time she was having a lot of trouble getting around (as most overweight 9-year-old dogs do). I was afraid we were staring down the end of Maggie’s life and I knew that if something happened to her that Molly would grieve her as much, if not more than Jason and I would.
This became part of my crusade. “Well, when Maggie’s gone, Molly is going to be so distraught and lonely. We need to have another dog that she’s comfortable with before the end of Maggie’s life so that she won’t be so lonely right off the bat.”
Jason didn’t fall for it.
Fast forward to September 2021. I’d been at Plank & Tile for about four months and a high school classmate who shares a daughter with our sales director came in with a bunch of puppies that had been born in July. She had been trying to talk me into getting one via Facebook message but I couldn’t convince Jason. They were Weimaraner-Lab mix puppies and while they were adorable, I knew that they were going to be big, energetic dogs.
But when she brought those babies in (at the encouragement of our Finance Manager Kristi), I fell in love with one of the little sweethearts. I thought about pulling the same thing I had with Molly but knew it probably wouldn’t be well-received. So, I called Jason on video call and showed him how sweet and cuddly she was. He never did say no. But he never said yes. His words were “Do whatever you think you need to do.”
Well hell, I thought I needed another puppy so I said “I’ll take her.” I immediately started looking for M names that were cute. (I felt like I needed to keep the M names going. After growing up with a sister named Abbie and hearing my parents go “Ash-Abbie” or “Abb-Ashlee” or whatever combination they came up with, you’d think I would’ve known better…but I didn’t.)
I brought the little cutie home and she was so sweet and quiet and calm. We named her Mabel (I wanted to name her Malibu after my favorite rum, but Jason vetoed that.) Maggie immediately liked her, letting her sleep with her on her bed and cuddle with her. Molly was skeptical, growling, avoiding her and just being a mean big sister. They finally started playing together but we can’t determine if she’s bullying her or actually playing sometimes.
Mabel has been the problem child. She is sweet and cute and cuddly when she’s sleepy. But the only way she gets sleepy is by going wide-ass open all day long. For house-training purposes, we started closing her up in our laundry room. She’s getting better with the house-training as long as you are really listening for her to whine to go out. She’ll wait at the back door for you but if you don’t come let her out in time, she’s going to find somewhere to relieve herself. Which is a pain in the butt, but it’s as much our fault as it is hers — we aren’t paying attention to when she disappears. But when she is bored, (or lonely while we’re at work) she tears up things. She’s torn up several of the floor tiles in the laundry room (peel and stick so it’s not a HUGE loss) but last week she made two holes in the wall! We made the decision to start crating her throughout the day when we’re gone. Both Jason and I were against crating her in the beginning, but we’re also against her destroying our home. We’ve already had multiple casualties around the house due to her — bras, shoes, phone chargers and multiple toys have been massacred.
But she’s sweet and cuddly and it’s hard to be mad at her for too long. Maybe it’s still just puppy-love, but we can tell she’s maturing a little more and she is DEFINITELY growing quickly. Stay tuned for more Mabel antics because I’m sure there will be plenty more to write about as she grows up.