That missing piece in our home came in the shape of a red-toy poodle.

Dear Marcia,

Years from today, when you’ve enjoyed the long companionship of Macy Joy, your toy poodle, I want you to remember what you went through to welcome her into your life.

It all started with a casual conversation at the dining table.

M1: “I want to talk to you about something I’ve been thinking about having. But I know Daddy is already going to say ‘No!’ So, I might not even want to try.”

Daddy: “How are you sure? And besides, how are you ever going to really know if you don’t try? That means you don’t really want it that bad.”

M1: “Okay. I’m thinking of getting a dog.”

Daddy: (insert shocked face, like barely able to swallow his food kinda expression) “Well yeah, if you ask me now, I’m going to have to say no, because why would I want to take care of another pet when I already have three of you?” (insert Mama’s very obvious eye-roll here) But you know what, I’m not going to say no. But I really need you to prove to us that you are committed because Mama and I don’t want the extra work, just so you know.”

M1: “So, that’s a maybe? (Your eyes gleamed with hope and excitement) Thank you, Daddy! (Please remember that there was a time that even a sliver of hope and possibility can spark so much joy in you.) So, how can I prove to you that I can be responsible for a dog?”

Daddy: “Mama and I will discuss about it and let you know.”

Honestly, I was caught by surprise by how that conversation played out. I was quite certain that your Dad would have shut your idea down in a heartbeat. Nevertheless, I was secretly jumping for joy inside, because being a person who grew up with a dog in the house, I’ve always felt that our home was missing a small piece in the shape of a furry, four-legged friend.

Your Dad and I had a serious discussion about how we wanted you to show your commitment to this new project. And after consulting with another, more experienced couple, we asked you to work for the dog – not by paying money, but to show us how committed you are by walking every afternoon around our compound, for 15 minutes, to pick up trash and leaves along the way, without fail for 6 months. If you miss even just one day, you will have to start again from the very beginning.

You asked us what that had to do with anything, and your Dad had a really good explanation for it. “When you have a dog, you need to be committed to care for it. No matter rain or shine, you need to get up, feed the dog, and take her for a walk. No matter how you’re feeling or how busy your schedule is, you need to make the time to take care of her. And picking up trash is just practice because you’ll have to pick up after her mess too!” Aside from actually proving your commitment, we also thought that it would be a good practice run for you.

You were excited from the get go. The next day after we suggested this, you picked up a plastic bag and walked around our complex for 15 minutes – for 2 days straight. By the third day, you decided that you were tired and conveniently “forgot” to go for your afternoon walk.

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I remember your Dad telling me, “Relax babe, this is going to be another three years before we ever get a dog,” with a huge grin on his face.

Suddenly, on the 8th of July, you got out of bed and told me, “Mom, I know I wasn’t serious about working to get my dog before, but I am now. I’m going to start walking again today.” And that was the first day of your 6-month project. You went on your afternoon walks even when we were on a holiday in Bali, when you went on a weekend getaway with Grandma to Surabaya, and even when you had a slight fever. Whenever we suggested you to sit that day out, you said, “No, I’ve made it this far, I don’t want to start again.” Now that’s some level of commitment!

Your Dad believes that the 6-month exercise wasn’t just for you – it was for him too. Because being the un-dog person that he is, he also needed the time to prepare his mind to change his way of living (he really thought that having a pet will disrupt our rhythm so much, and I can’t really say that he’s over the top…) During that time, our whole family was preparing to welcome our very first pet. You researched the kinds of dog you’d like, discussed its characteristics with your brothers, your Dad and I, and basically learned all you needed to know about caring for a dog. (You watched Zack George dog training videos on youtube like a nut!) I’ve got to say, it was an exciting time for all of us, as we anticipated the arrival of the puppy. We cheered you on… reminding you to go on your walk, in case you forgot. Your brothers even offered to walk with you when we knew you were feeling tired. We all wanted to see you succeed!

The day you finally got your puppy was a memorable one – not just for you, but for everyone of us. We welcomed Macy Joy into our family and she fit right in! But that wasn’t what we celebrated. We celebrated you because, Marcia, you did it! We couldn’t hide just how proud we were of you. And we still are, very proud of you.

(I actually have a video of you carrying Macy for the first time as we were about to bring her home from the breeder, but I promised you that I wouldn’t show anyone – because, spoiler alert, you brought on the waterworks!) And I actually want to tell you about how you finally settled on Macy, but let’s save that story for another time.

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Macy Joy has been a part of our family for three months now. I’m not going to lie – your Dad was right, our rhythm was disrupted as we made room for her in our home and in our daily lives. But every evening as the three of you gather on the living room floor to just roll around and cuddle with Macy, I saw that piece that was missing has already been filled. It came in the shape of a furry, red toy poodle, with long legs, long snout, a white beard, and a set of playful eyes. And as the name you gave her suggested, she brought, into our home, a whole lot of Joy.

Love,

Mama

 

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