Wednesday, December 16, 2015

We Bought a Farm: A nap in the grass with my pup

It has been unseasonably warm this week in the foothills of Tennessee.

JB's parents are out of town. So our "little" family of six -- seven if you count the dog -- was outside yesterday, just enjoying the sunshine together. As JB drove off for a work meeting, I finished my driveway sprints and collapsed on the ground to do my push-ups and sit-ups so excited to be outside in my tank-top in December.

(I will always be a Florida girl at heart.)

The kids were with me for a bit -- trying to do jumping jacks and sitting on my back while I attempted a push-up. Giggling, wrestling, trying to mimic what I was doing. If you ever want a good laugh, just ask a two-year-old to try to do a push-up. Cracks me up every time.

(Wondering if people are laughing as hard at me when I attempt them.)

But suddenly, all four of my little people were gone, vanishing around the other side of the house, lead by Isaac on some sort of zombie adventure.

And it was just me, lying in the grass, basking in the December warmth. I closed my eyes and started praying -- just enjoying this precious alone time in gorgeous weather with my family and my God.

And suddenly I felt his presence. (And I don't mean God's presence.) I opened my eyes and there he was. My dog. Standing guard above me. Tail perched at alert. Ears back. Making sure I was safe there in my spot on the grass from the one or two vehicles that passed our house a day. Or the random guinea fowl that wandered my way.

I called my big pile of spots over to me, and it almost surprised him. There are so few times that just he and I have time to spend together anymore. I am so busy with his little brothers and sisters that he doesn't ever get the same attention that he received when he was the only little man in the house.

But today, it was just Scrubs and me, lying next to each other in the warm grass. He pushed his head up against mine, smudged my glasses with his nose, and even rolled onto his back for a good scratch.

And suddenly there were tears rolling down my cheeks.

A "happy sad" as Sidge likes to call it.

It was actually the second time this week I found myself crying from joy. The first had been early one morning earlier that week, while feeding the chickens. JB and I looked up to see an amazingly vibrant double rainbow stretching from one side of our farm to the other. I found myself tearing up.

And here I was, lying in the grass, tearing up again.

I was immediately transported back in time to a very sad time in our lives. The year was 2007. We had just moved to Eglin Air Force Base. And we had just suffered our fourth failed IVF cycle. Twelve failed attempts at pregnancy altogether and still no children in our home.

JB and I had both agreed that we were done with biological children. That it was time to move on. That our hearts couldn't bear the pain that we had chosen to endure for five years as we begged and pleaded with God and my body for a child.

We went and bought new living room and dining room furniture and decided it was time to stop waiting for something that was never going to happen.

But we lived on this bustling Air Force Base, and if there is one thing I have learned about military life, it is this: put a bunch of 20 to 40 year olds together and give them free healthcare and a difficult time getting a job because they are moving so much and you will see a breeding ground erupt.

Everyone was pregnant. Or at least it felt that way. Everyone had a house full of children. Or at least it felt that way.

Everyone except me.

And then my wonderful husband did the very best thing he could have possibly done for me. He researched and bought and we went and picked up a ... puppy. The most high-energy puppy he could possibly get. A dog that would require me to take my mind off of babies and instead, take care of him.

Here is the very first video we ever shot of our little Scrubs:

As I relaxed in the grass, Scrubs head next to mine, I couldn't help but think that he was just another part of our journey. He would not have been here had we not gone through the years of pain that we had gone through. We wouldn't have ever adopted Isaac. And we would definitely have not frozen an embryo that would one day be Hannah. And who knows whether Sidge and Abigail would have ever existed if we had had children when we wanted them.

And we sure as heck wouldn't have gotten a dog -- especially not a hyper Dalmatian!

Scrubs was almost exactly one year old when we brought baby #1 home. He was two when baby #2 joined us. Over the next five years, he would patiently adjust each time yet another little pile of baby chub would find its way into our home.

He gradually outgrew his obsession with pacifiers and eating baby socks. (We called them "scrubby snacks.") And he accepted each of these little beings into his home without question.

He has loved the children perfectly -- never giving us a moment's concern that he would do anything other than protect them. As hyper as he was, he immediately understood when Isaac arrived that we needed him to be slower and more cautious. He immediately stood guard over his pack-n-play as if he understood this was his new job.

Scrubs is eight and a half now. I can't even fathom that we only have a few more years with him. He absolutely loves living on the farm and now, honesty, prefers Grampa to me on most occasions. Sidge is our animal lover and is therefore the child most likely to be found sitting next to Scrubs saying, "Good boy. Best dog ever." Scrubs likes all the kids well enough, but he still prefers a grown-ups feet when falling asleep at night.

He loves farm life. Like he was born to be farm dog. He runs around by the geese and ducks and guinea fowl with no attempt to harm them -- as if knowing that they belong here as much as he does. He runs back and forth between Grampa and Grama's house and our's with ears flying back and wind in his face. Only when the weather is bad or the sun goes down does he wander back through the house. The dog hair problem is much better here because all his dog hair is out there!

Scrubs will always hold an incredibly special place in my heart. I have said it before, and I actually am not exaggerating when I say that he saved my life during that year before we adopted Isaac. 

When you go for walks by yourself, you don't meet people. When you have a child, conversations ensue. Scrubs was my "child." Take a walk with an adorable dalmatian puppy and see if you don't meet people and get to know people in your neighborhood. While a dog can never replace the pain of infertility, it padded my heart just enough and filled the quiet just enough to make it bearable.

And I will forever be grateful to Scrubby for that.

We probably only had about 15 minutes in the grass that afternoon before the kids made their way around the house and started jumping all over us again. Within a few minutes, he got up from my side and made his way to the front of our play area -- tail at attention, ears back, resuming his place of family protector. 

I thanked my heavenly father for a precious moment with my precious dog, and a reminder of how precious life is. 

I love you Scrubby!


Anonymous said...

Such a great post! Found myself welling up with tears reading. Dogs are such great companions especially when we go through the valleys.

Julie Edgar

MtnGirl said...

I have two cockers - one is approaching 12 y/o and the other is almost 7 y/o. I have no children except my fur boys. My heart hurts thinking that one day I will lose my boys, but man I sure am soaking up every second I have with them! After being a "cat lady" for many years and still have cats but dogs are so much different in their neediness, love, and pure loyalty (no matter what!)!

Gay Williams said...

Oh Wendi...thank you so much for this post. I discovered Scrubby through your videos on YouTube shortly after I lost my beloved Dalmatian. Following his adventures on-line helped to heal my heart. I have continued to read your blog and am so happy for you and your family. Have a wonderful Christmas and give Scrubs a hug from me.

Anonymous said...

Yes. This really speaks to me. The timing is uncanny.