It was 1999 and I hadn't had more than two consecutive hours of sleep in about two months. With a colicky newborn, a two-year-old and a whopping case of postpartum depression, I was more than a little overwhelmed. In addition, my miniature dachshund, Suzie, hated the new baby's crying and had begun pacing the bed at night and peeing all over the house. We'd tried to put her in a crate downstairs but she barked all night long for several weeks until we finally gave up and she tunneled under our covers again, only to barrel out of them in ear-flapping agitation whenever the baby cried. All I wanted was to crawl in my own bed by myself in peace and sleep for about 48 hours.
One exhausting, whiny, sleep-deprived day I happened to get both babies down for a nap at the same time. When I quietly pulled back the covers on my own bed, moved the dog over and laid my head on the pillow, I remember feeling such incredible relief. I must have been asleep in under 10 seconds.
And then, five minutes later, the doorbell rang.
The dog barked all the way off the bed, down the hall and to the front door. The baby screamed and the toddler wandered out of his room yelling, "Who dere?" All that chaos for a dropped-off package. And the naps were definitely over. I couldn't help the tears that came or the angry phrases I hurled at poor Suzie. Only new sleep-deprived parents can understand the disheartening trench of an interrupted nap and the threat of no sleep for the foreseeable future.
It was more than I could bear at that moment and I made the decision I would later come to regret - I gave away our precious Suzie. Don't get me wrong, I gave her away to a wonderful family. And when the new family came to pick her up, she jumped right in their car and didn't look back. I think our family had become more than she could bear too.
Three years later, our family was better rested and badly in need of canine companionship. So when I found myself at my wit's end calling the animal shelter only a couple of weeks after adopting Lucy to give her back, I felt like I was being punished by the universe for giving up our dachshund. I felt like a failure again. I felt like I didn't deserve a dog.
But then something unexpected happened. And Lucy is still our beloved dog almost 13 years and three houses later. The story of how we learned to love Lucy was recently published in Chicken Soup For The Soul: The Dog Did What? If you like heartwarming and funny dog stories, you'll probably love this book. Because it turns out that I'm not the only one who loves a dog that has done crazy things.
Julie Richie is a mother and writer who was inspired to write by the book Beat the Turtle Drum by Constance C. Greene when she was eleven years old.