Puppy Fever and Empty Nests

It has only been a month since Chelsea died. Thankfully the girls have been home, making the house less lonely. But there are times that I still burst into tears at the dumbest things – a peanut butter sandwich crust that I had to throw away because she wasn’t there to eat it. I miss her. The girls miss her. DW misses her.

However, the girls and I were ready to start talking about a new baby more than a week ago. DW, well, not so much.

“Okay, so if not now, when? When might be a good time to start thinking about adding to our family?” I asked, thinking maybe it was just too soon for him.


I was dumbfounded, “What? Seriously, when?”

“Seriously, not at all,” he said. “I don’t think we walked Chelsea enough.”

End of discussion.

This is where as a stay-at-home mom I really struggle. I don’t bring in the paycheck, so I feel like a haven’t “earned” a say sometimes. I let it go, but the kids kept asking me, “When? When?” A few more times I tried to broach the subject with DW but was shut down with the same response. It pained me greatly to think that the whole decision to have another dog was resting on the fact that Chelsea was not walked enough. I can’t argue that point with him, honestly. We are an active family but in sports and music. It is not a regular practice for us to go for a walk. It should be and we are trying to make that a priority this summer just for our own cohesion and health. But there were so many other ways that we showed love to our four-legged family member. She lived a happy and comfortable life – daily walks or not. There really had to be more to this than what was being communicated. Guilt? Grief?

Monday night The Tortoise had soccer try-outs. While sitting on the sidelines, I noticed a beautiful brindle puppy being carried by a sweet little girl. The pup’s name was Lucy. The Hare was with me and noticed her right away too. As we sat there, we couldn’t help but over hear that this puppy needed a home. My heart skipped a beat, just a little. Of course I had to go over and see her in person. Touch and nuzzle her – smell her puppy breath and let my face be kissed by that baby tongue. Yes, I know, it was as dumb a decision as sitting in an ant mound smeared in grape jelly. The owner and I talked for a few minutes, the other soccer moms kept egging me on to take her home. But she was going to be big – a Coon Hound, Siberian Husky, German Shepherd, Retriever mix. The Hare started begging me to call DW and see what he thought.

I knew what he thought.

But I called anyway.

“Hi sweetie, you got a minute?”

“Sure, how’s the try-outs going?”

“Ummm, good, I think.” I hadn’t really been paying attention.

“What’s wrong? Everything okay?”

“Well, yes. But there’s this puppy here and…”


“Do what you want.”

I really hate that kind of answer. It feels like a trap.

“But what would happen if I bring home a new puppy tonight?”

“I won’t divorce you, if that’s what you’re asking.”

I wasn’t laughing. It was clear that this was an emotionally charged situation and that I shouldn’t make any decisions based on this gentle face staring up at me. The man was very nice and gave me all of his contact information. I told him I needed to sleep on it.

The Tortoise made the team as a goalie and we all went home. DW walked through the door about an hour after we did, put his bag down and stood in the middle of the kitchen in silence. He waited for me to speak first, I think, but I just floated around the kitchen getting his dinner together.

“Where’s the dog?” he finally asked.

“Not here.”

As I scooted past him to the dinner table, he grabbed my arm, looked me in the face and said, “Are you mad at me?”

There was no way to contain myself. The tears welled up and my voice started quivering immediately.

“No, ” I answered, “I’m not mad at you. I’m just sad that you really don’t think we should bring another life into this house.”

“That’s the point, Em,” he said, hugging me tight. “It is a life we would be bringing into this house. This is as big a decision to me as having another baby.”

I jumped back. Now I was crying hard. The word “baby” was piercing and painful.

“Exactly!” I shouted, “and you made that decision too! I wanted another baby and you said no and now I’m too old to have another baby and now you’re telling me I can’t even have a puppy!”

And there it was, the crux of my depression. I hadn’t moved on from wanting another child and Chelsea had become my last baby at home once the kids were in school full-time. She was the last one left I felt still needed me and now she was gone. I was going through the baby blues. DW heard me loud and clear. He could see my brokeness and his shoulders lowered, his arms reached out to me. His eyes seemed a little misty.

“I’m sorry, ” he whispered.

Now the girls and I are talking about puppies openly. I’m almost giddy at the choices. I did call the soccer dad back and let him know that we are not interested in his puppy because we have decided on a small lap dog. I’ve never had a small dog. My childhood dogs were a Springer Spaniel and a yellow Labrador Retriever. Then of course, Chelsea was a Golden Retriever. There is so much conflicting information out there about mixed breeds too, that it can be overwhelming but I think we have narrowed it down to a Maltese Shih Tzu mix. There is a wonderful couple that own a small dog salon near us that also work with breeders in Michigan, kind of like a puppy broker I guess. They have a very good reputation in the area and gave me an hour of their undivided time yesterday. The Hare and I were thoroughly impressed with the amount of information we got and enjoyed meeting the owners’ dogs as well. In fact, the meeting went so well, that they are bringing a little girl Maltese mix to the shop by the end of the month for us to meet.

And where is DW in all of this now? Helping us pick out a name.

An example of a Mal-Shi from puppydogweb.com

22 thoughts on “Puppy Fever and Empty Nests

  1. Ha! We also went through this same thing, but we had a 2 year old white German shepherd to keep me company after our Emma died. Just 2 weeks ago we got a new puppy, Millie!!!!

    It was time. Jack, our shepherd, was SO sad and now he is the happiest dog ever and so are we.

    Have fun with your new puppy!!! It is worth the work, isn’t it?

  2. what a great blog! i just discovered you. i found this entry, actually, b/c i had similar experience after our first brittany died. only i recently ended up with… two new dogs! and since two kids under 6, a full time job, and two new brittanys aren’t enough, i also started a blog about it! stop by sometime!


    1. You are a brave, brave woman! I don’t know how you are still breathing with that much going on in your house – I’d have to be committed. I really enjoyed having my kids 4 years a part. I will stop by your blog! Thanks.

    1. This made me laugh out loud! Thank you – yes, I know, labs are AMAZING. I had a yellow lab growing up. Her name was Abby. There aren’t enough kind words to say about Goldens and Labs. But I want small for LONGER than 3 months…

  3. I doubt this needs to be said, but because they are still out there, it should be.

    Be careful of your source when aquiring a new pup. Too many come from puppy mills and the reason being is that people think that the cute puppy in the window can’t possibly be from a mill. If you can’t see the parents, and talk to the owner of them, be very leary. Responsible breeders will make you jump through hoops to adopt, and will make you promise to return them if it doesn’t work out.

    I too can’t wait to meet your new addition. Puppies can be such fun.

    1. Thank you for your feedback. I do know how terrible those puppy mills are – we were going to only work with a breeder but this “source” has just been wonderful. They are the owners of a small family run small dog salon and have contacts with local breeders. I’ve met with them, checked references and feel confidant that these puppies have been raised in a loving and safe environment. It is heart-breaking to hear about the mistreatment of animals in any of these puppy mills – thus why we aren’t working through a pet store. We can’t wait!

  4. I love your candidness! I have to tell you I am addicted to your blog. I have shared it with all of my friends! Thanks for speaking about the things people need to hear but most don’t talk about!!!

    1. You are so welcome! I appreciate the support of my readers too. I started writing this blog to sort through the thoughts that follow me around all day and to have a voice outside my family. Ironically, it appears that my “voice” stems from my family. They are my obvious inspirations.

  5. This post is exactly why I enjoy your blog so much. It’s honest.. and not just when it is neat and pretty. I’ve known since my late teens that I will never be able to have children and can relate all too well to the “empty nest”. In the beginning I was young and kids and family were the furthest thing from my mind, so it didn’t really sink in – not REALLY.

    However, as I have gotten older it’s definitely started to smart, and every now and then it creeps up on me, totally without warning.. and I don’t think I’d ever really understood until now just how big feelings like that can be… or how long it takes to learn to live with them. Thank you for writing so openly of your feelings about all this… it helps me face mine.

    I’m very glad to hear you’ll be getting a new dog, and can’t wait to see the new co-star take the stage here on Pajama Days 😉


    1. Ah, yes – the baby blues. It is definitely a process. There are days that I think, “I can’t imagine trying to balance more than two” and then there are those days that my heart breaks realizing that this is it. At the end of the day, I know that DW and I made that decision together – I could have pushed harder, I’m sure. I’ve seen too many times though where a wife seriously compromises her marriage by taking the baby making into her own hands. Thank you for connecting with me – I’m glad we can learn from each other.

  6. GREAT post. It made me emotional and I don’t even know why. Probably because you wrote so honestly, which I love. I’ve only had one dog in my life, our yellow labrador retriever Bailey who is 1.5 now, and I can just see me making this decision one day, to bring another “life” into the house. It is a big decision, I agree, but once who carve out a place in your heart for them, it’s almost impossible to not feel the need to fill it again. I’m excited to hear what you end up with!

    1. Thanks Kim – I didn’t realize how much I still wanted another baby until DW had brought it up Monday night. Strange how we process things, isn’t it? I’m sure a lot of women with children go through those emotions as their youngest start growing up. We may have a puppy as soon as the end of next week!

  7. i remember telling you that 3 months went by after my dog “August” went to heaven on march 1,2008..It was June when i decided i had to have Patches,my current puppy which i’ve had now for nearly two years.i remember you replying that three months would be too soon..and believe it or not,you’ll find yourself giving that same love you gave to chelsea to your new baby..and..your new baby will do things that remind you of chelsea. i’m so glad that you decided to do this. you’ll be so happy!!trust me!!(btw,so glad you didn’t decide on a jack russel terrier..they not only need daily walking but as i aid before,they bounce off the walls with hyperactivity 24/7 in some cases./)

    1. HA! Yes, at the time I couldn’t imagine getting another dog so soon, but now I just find one soon enough. We are all still missing Chelsea terribly, and know that we are not replacing her, but it will be nice to have an animal in the house again. I’ll keep you posted!

  8. I was going to suggest a breed, but it sounds like you have a great option already. He is adorable! The decision to get a dog is certainly a tough one and everyone in the house has to be ready to accept the addition. We went through the same thing. My wife wasn’t ready, but she finally gave in and now she loves our dog so much and he is her shadow. I can’t wait to hear further about your search for a new dog. Good luck!

  9. Sorry to hear about Chelsea dying. That must have been tough. My dog passed away 5 years ago, and I still miss him.

    You must be happy that DW got on board with the puppy plans. I still can’t convince my husband to let me get a puppy – or have a baby… Oh well.. I’m working on being patient.

  10. That’s awesome that you are getting another dog. I just had to take our 13 year old dog to be put to sleep this morning, so it’s been a very tough day to say the least! Just trying to keep really busy to take my mind off things. Right before I read this, I had just been thinking about the exact same subject. I don’t feel that I want another dog anytime soon after all of this, but at the same time, he’s only been gone for 4 hrs and the house feels very lonely & empty. When we do get around to getting another dog, I think it will be a smaller lap dog like you are planning on. Good luck finding a great new puppy, how fun for the girls!

  11. was walking yesterday evening and quite out of the blue met a neighbor i had never talked to before who was walking a 6 mo old yorkie maltese mix…it was kind of a caramel color, with that straight maltie hair…she called it a morkie…it was the cutest little thing ever. Tiny puppy tongue!

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