Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The return of Harvey

So I haven’t been speaking of our now 8-month-old hyper lab-spaniel puppy Harvey much on the blog of late – and that is in part because his fate with our family was in limbo for a bit. Rob’s dad was gracious enough to watch him for a full month -- from Christmas break well into January -- and he even toyed with the idea of keeping him since I was feeling a bit overwhelmed by our big-dog-little-kids combo.

During my time away from Harvey, I began to feel such peace with our family life without a dog added to the mix – especially a dog that couldn’t safely co-exist with the kids and thus spent much of his time banned from the house and feasting on our deck as a way to deal with his puppy frustrations. I was wracked with guilt and short on sleep.

So when Harvey returned, it felt like an ominous thing to me – a weight returning to me as much as my sweet puppy coming home. But Rob is determined to make a good life for us and our dog, and so far we are all doing amazingly well together. Rob is working double time to make sure that my days and my domestic chores aren’t lengthened by Harvey being here. It’s field season for Rob at work, so he’s bringing Harvey with him to work most days, where he gets to ride around in a jeep and frolic in the woods while Rob collects data. Harvey comes home worn out and happy to lay on our deck.

The boys are still nervous about Harvey – and rightfully so. He’s not aggressive but he’s big and he plays hard and he’ll knock over an adult in a heartbeat. And that still makes me a bit uneasy, but I just keep the boys and Harvey in separate spaces unless Rob's here to help me manage safety issues.

The boys were watching the tail end of the PBS show “Martha Speaks,” the other day and it included a little video segment with a girl playing with a puppy as she spoke these words to end the show: “The best part of having a puppy is you have someone to play with.”

I sighed to myself, looked at Will and Owen, and said, “Should we go play with our puppy?”

“Maybe when I’m 15,” Will said. “He’s kind of big.”

But Will is enjoying throwing tennis balls to Harvey, under close supervision from us, and this weekend when we took Harvey on the leash, Owen in a stroller, and Will on his bike to the far end of Lakebottom park, Harvey came to the rescue. It was a longer ride than we’d ever asked of Will and the last uphill leg of the return trip had him worn out. So, in spite of my initially nervous protests, Rob tied Harvey’s leash to Will’s bike and then held it himself with the fierce grip of a father determined to keep his son safe. And Harvey became a work dog, pulling our tired boy home on his bike. The next day we tied him to the front of the double stroller and let him pull the boys home a bit that way. And while I would never recommend these nutty tactics to anyone, I somehow trust Rob to carry them out safely – and the boys are thrilled by Harvey, the sled dog. Harvey seems to love the role too.

As we ate dinner the day of that too-long bike ride, Will asked us: “You know what one of the funnest things in my life happened today?”

“What?” we asked him.

“Riding my bike with Harvey.”

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