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Published July 11, 2015, 07:26 AM

Katie Pinke: Every kid needs a puppy (or two)

Before Charlie, I never had a dog in the house. I was raised with farm dogs. The ones who chase cows, nip at their heels and roll in manure. Dogs who drink from the lake, cattle tank or puddles in the yard and eat cheap dog food straight from the ripped open bag in the barn.

By: Katie Pinke, Special to Agweek.com

In early April, we lost Charlie, our 13-year-old yellow lab. During my husband’s bachelor days, Charlie was his best friend. The past nine years or so, Charlie lived with my in-law’s down the road but would visit us frequently. When my girls went to Nana’s house to play, Charlie dog would come home with me.

Before Charlie, I never had a dog in the house. I was raised with farm dogs. The ones who chase cows, nip at their heels and roll in manure. Dogs who drink from the lake, cattle tank or puddles in the yard and eat cheap dog food straight from the ripped open bag in the barn.

Over the years, though, our farm dogs have gotten more spoiled. In the winter, Butler, my parent’s yellow lab, trots over to my grandparent’s house and my 90-year-old grandpa lets him in to get out of the cold.

Never have I cared for a dog as much as I did for Charlie. Since he’s been gone, there’s been a missing piece to our family dynamics. For the sake of timing, my husband and I decided we would wait a year until our son graduated from high school to get another puppy.

That plan was thrown out the window on the Fourth of July. We were celebrating the holiday weekend at our prairie lake and spotted a slew of puppies when walking from our camper to my in-law’s camper.

Our youngest daughter, Anika, begged to go see them. She’s an animal magnet and dreams of being a veterinarian. I tugged at her hand and we proceeded to my in-law’s camper. Before finishing my first cup of coffee, Anika insisted we pay a visit to those puppies.

Decked out in her “birthday dress,” her annual red, white and blue theme for her early July birthday, she darted over to meet the neighbor’s 11 five-week-old yellow lab puppies. I followed, knowing my heart was never going to be able to say no to a puppy if they were available.

The puppies crawled all over Anika. She snuggled and cuddled each and every one then asked, “Can we bring home a puppy?” The dog owners explained the puppies still needed their mommy and wouldn’t be ready for their new homes for a few weeks. Before I knew it, I was asking if there were any still available.

Sure enough, there was one puppy left, a female. Anika perked up. I knew it was time to get my

husband. He is the director of dogs in our household. I like farm dogs, not inside dogs. He made it clear getting a puppy was our decision — I had to be on board with caring for the puppy during the day when he’s at work and the kids are at school.

The puppy would need exercise, which means I couldn’t skip my daily walks anymore. And the puppy would need to be allowed inside the house (or at least certain parts of the house). The deliberation didn’t last long. We agreed to buy the remaining puppy and used cash we had set aside for fireworks for the down payment.

By that time, my husband, son, both daughters and in-laws were all sitting in the grass with the puppies. The girls starting talking about getting two puppies, so they could each have one. Nathan liked the idea of having a male puppy. Anika was already head over heels in love with the female she was cuddling. But two?

As it turns out, there was a male puppy who might still be available. The dog owner would know in a couple days if the individual who had spoken for that puppy would follow through.

Nathan and I shared a glance and shrugged our shoulders. Our fireworks cash was now spent on a down payment for two puppies … or maybe just one. Time would tell.

Sure enough, the call came a couple days later. The male puppy was all ours.

In a couple of weeks, we’ll be dog owners again. They won’t be farm dogs. They’ll be prairie puppies. They will live inside our house and have plenty of land to roam outside when we take our daily walks.

The girls have promised to take the puppies outside every morning. When the kids are at school, I guess Pinke dog daycare will step in to help wrangle puppies.

I keep telling myself every kid needs a puppy — and so does this prairie mama.

Connect with Katie Pinke on her blog thepinkepost.com, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

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