(from Brody's point of view)...
I could tell a change was coming by the way Katie started to look at me, her brow crumpled and tears always on the verge of surfacing. I knew it in the way she pet me every single time she walked by, no longer feeling I was just another detour in her path. When she knelt down and pulled my head into her chest, I could feel the weight of her heart beating against my floppy ears. She pitied me. I could feel her decision sway like a flag swaying in a gentle wind. When she came home to no accidents, when I was a calm gentle boy, Katie would sway to the direction of keeping me around, taking a chance. On the days when she would come home to a mess of me marking my territory on the baby’s belongings, her decision was made easily. I could feel it in the sharp tone of her voice and the jerky way she maneuvered her body when she picked up after me. They couldn’t take a chance on me, risk their little creation’s future. I get it, I understand. If I could simmer down and step away from my anxiety-ridden thoughts, I would. If I could shrink down to a smaller size so I wouldn’t be such a burden when I hopped back and forth or when I raced up and down the stairs, I would.
I remember the days when Katie would settle on the couch, her belly billowing out like a balloon. She would love it when I snuggled up to her, resting my head against the little world that was going on inside. That spot became my pillow for nine months. I’d listen to the sea of life growing, a watery amusement park of activity as the little one kicked and flipped around, excited for her entry into the world. The night before Emily decided to make her appearance, I remember Katie in great agony. She couldn’t sleep, and because I knew she was in such pain, I had to follow her around, my snout on the tip of her heals. When she settled in the living room, I rested by the foot of the couch. My head lifted every three to five minutes, following her every move as she used a pen to log her contractions. It hurt me to see her in pain, but I couldn’t take my eyes off of her, resting my chin on the coffee table so I had a perfect view. Every now and then she would bend over and clutch my paw, her face pale and her eyes watering in much the way I’ve seen them the past few days. The girl had a grip too, but I was okay with that. I’d do anything to make my family happy, because after all, they saved me. I remember the day I first saw Mike. I lifted my head to the sound of the metal gate unlatching. I thought it was just time for one of my many bathroom breaks, so I followed my foster guy out to the yard. That is when I saw Mike for the first time, and probably the first time I fell in love. He stood by a dirty green jeep and let me come to him, which I did with a hop in my step and a waggle of my tail. It was like he was the positive to my negative, drawing me in like an electrical charge. The big guy bent down to my level, sandwiching my head between his hands. He never stopped petting me the entire time the foster guy was giving him instructions on feeding, sleeping and all the other little quirks that came along with me. I won’t say that I wasn’t scared to go to a new home, much different than the one I had lived at previously. I was a country boy, raised from birth until two roaming a farm, and now I was being taken to the big city of Saint Louis to live in a small urban loft with high walls, cement floors and another dog. A million questions were whirling around in my mind on that five-hour drive, but for not one minute did I not feel safe and loved. I felt that same comfort when I saw the boxes being hefted into a moving van and our dirty green jeep being packed to the brim. Baxter, my dog brother and I had been promised that we’d love New England, where Katie’s family is from. We’d love the ocean and the lakes that were all about to become part of our world. Heck, it’s our fault that we landed a home in Winthrop, Massachusetts in a small sleepy little beachside town. Out of all the places Katie and Mike looked at, there was only one poor schmuck who would agree to rent to a couple with dogs that outweighed their two teenage children. And that is how we found Winthrop and how we planted our roots into the ground of a new town.
Not long after we bought a new house, as all newly married couples do Katie and Mike fantasized about what it would be like to have a child. They were torn between being one of those traveling couples who committed their lives to dogs and starting a family of their own. Baxter and I were their children, but they knew that one day our short life spans would take us away from them, leaving them heartbroken and empty. It was mostly curiosity that led them to pulling that goalie and conceiving a baby of their own. Rightfully so, they had wondered what all the fuss was about. I don’t blame them. When I saw that sweet little pink bundle of joy wrapped in Katie’s arms, I got pretty excited too. I think that was the very moment when their love transitioned from me and over to the creation that was a piece of both of them. I get it, I do…once when Katie had a pet tortoise, I wrapped my paw around it and took it under my wing in much the same way.
When Emily was in that stage where she was still waking up three times a night, I was sure to wake up too…resting my chin on the baby gate that kept me out of her room. Katie and Mike certainly weren’t neat freaks, but they wanted to keep the little one as germ-free as possible. I get it, I do. When Emily started to walk, I was agreeable when she would use me for balance, often times tugging on my ears and pulling my lips. The walking was fun, but it became easier to knock her down with a simple wag of my tail or nudge of my snout. There was nothing better than when she started eating solid food. Babies are clumsy little creatures, their hands not yet strong enough to get a good grip on cookies and biscuits, thus paving the way for a trail of treats for yours truly. The older Emily got the more her demands seemed to increase and the less attention was leftover for me. The terrible twos came roaring in, and it put a little fuel on my fire. How dare this little human take over my territory? But, in some way, I helped her come into the world as Mike had set up a picture frame of me and Baxter in the delivery room to help calm Katie during labor. I love seeing the joy on Mike’s face when Emily greets him at the door, often times tripping over me. And I love seeing the happy tears reach the surface of Katie’s eyes, when Emily says a new word. But, I think it’s time for me to move on, settle into a family who can shower me with the constant attention I need.