Theresa Milstein: Anticipation and Experience

From: Theresa’s Tales of Teaching Tribulations and Typing Teen Texts
August 05, 2012 at 11:25PM

“A great source of calamity lies in regret and anticipation;
therefore a person is wise who thinks of the present alone, regardless of the
past or future.”
– Oliver Goldsmith
       My childhood was filled with negative dog experiences.  My maternal grandfather had a “crazy”
dog.  I remember hearing him,
sequestered in the basement, barking and scratching. My aunt had a French
poodle that jumped when people first came into the room.  Imagine 4-year-old me looking at a
large dog with its paws on my shoulders. 
When I was 6, a dog chased my friend and me down a driveway.  My friend was faster.  The dog bit my calf. 
But my paternal grandmother had a nice Beagle mix.
       My daughter LOVES dogs.  When she was 2-years-old and full of Shirley Temple curls,
she’d tell a giant golden retriever to sit in what she thought was a tough
voice.  It didn’t work.  If that same dog passed by and knocked
her down, she’d laugh.
Over the years, she begged for a dog. 
       I said, “I’d rather have another kid.  At least they’re potty trained after
2-3 years.”
       At some point my husband said, “Of course we’ll get a dog.”
I told him it would be harder than he thought and that my daughter would do
less than he believed. 
       The two of them broke me down. I agreed to get a dog once
we’d moved to a bigger place and she was 10.
We moved in June.
She turned 10 in July.

I had a long dog wish
Not too big
Not too energetic
Doesn’t drool
Doesn’t bark
Doesn’t lick
Doesn’t jump
Doesn’t shed
Needs little grooming
Has a BIG bladder

I knew dogs would be a mix of breed, temperament, and
But it’s hard for me to not control everything.
When I worried about owning an out-of control dog, my
husband reminded me that our kids weren’t out of control.  We’d have similar expectations.
I hoped he was right.
       We visited two shelters before we found a potentially right
dog for us.  He was a two-year-old
beagle that loved people.  We asked
to meet him.  We completed adoption
paperwork.  We were
interviewed.  Because of a
technicality we were told we couldn’t adopt him that day, so we might be better
off not meeting him.
My daughter still wanted to meet him.
I braced myself for her future tears. 
       He was sweet, scooting backwards to sit in laps.  We were told he was low on aggression (yay).  He’d also scored low on activity, which is rare for beagles.
We liked him.
But we couldn’t take him home.
       This was good for me. 
If I’d just been able to take him home, I would’ve had an anxiety
attack.  The situation made me (slightly)
regretful instead.
The employee saw how well we’d bonded that she was able to
figure out a solution.
       My daughter named him Milo, after the main character in The Phantom Tollbooth. We took the dog home.  My husband and I had the same
disembodied sensation we’d experienced when we took home our son from the
hospital after he was born. We’re in
charge now?!?  We don’t know what
we’re doing!
       The next few days were overwhelming for my husband and me,
but not because Milo was “bad”. Neither my husband nor I had ever owned a dog
before.  My daughter and I read
books to prepare. When I had a question, I’d scour the internet.  But it was an adjustment. 

       A week into owning Milo, we fell into a routine. My son had become a huge help. Our
poor cat was warming up. A little. I’d boasted how well things were going to a
group of people. They proceeded to explain to me how the dog was being good
because we were in a honeymoon stage. They warned there’d be exuberance and howling.
I freaked out inside.
It was like “veteran” mothers scaring pregnant women about
childbirth or how their kids won’t sleep through the night or behave in
       Afterwards, I told my husband we’d taken on too much, and
couldn’t back out now because our children would never forgive us and I wished
I could go back a year and say no to getting a dog and how this dog would be
our responsibility when the kids went to college and I missed my cat… 
We calmed down.
       The next week was our biggest challenge. My kids and I were
going away. My husband would be in charge of the dog all week.  He’d leave the dog all day while he
Would the dog destroy the house?
Would the dog hold his bladder?
Only time would

I’m happy to report
nearly 3 weeks in, Milo is:
Not too big
Not too energetic
Doesn’t drool
Doesn’t bark
Doesn’t lick
Doesn’t Jumps rarely
Doesn’t shed
Needs little grooming
Has a BIG bladder
And the cat is back snuggling with us on the couch.

The dog has learned:
to sit
patience when the cat is eating
to stay off the couches… at least in our presence

I’ve learned a few
things too:
I need to relax to be a good pack leader.
When all four of us chip in, it’s not so much responsibility.
Walking dogs is good exercise.
Like with raising kids, keep expectations high.
And, as with almost everything, anticipation is worse than
Have you ever feared anything
that wasn’t as bad as you thought?


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