On our way home from North Carolina, we stopped to hang out at with Grandma and Grandpa Jones in Albuquerque. My son was overjoyed, not only to see his grandparents, but to see "his" dog.
When they were both younger, it was a different story. As a giant puppy, Champ didn't know his strength and would bowl my son over in excitement. My son wasn't used to large animals at all, but even less accustomed to ones that would lick every bit of him before jumping on him. His usual response was to shriek and run away only to find his predator chasing him, tail feverishly wagging, even more excited than before. No matter how much we tried to get either of them to calm down, there was only yelling and screaming and crying.
Not very pleasant visits for any of us.
A year later, Champ had grown up a bit and Grandma and Grandpa Jones had finished training him. In that same time, my son grew a few inches and became braver, to boot. Now when we go to visit, Champ still comes racing up to see Ryan, but stops just short of knocking him down. Ryan, for his part, only pulls his arms in and braces himself rather than running away. He does his best to show the dog who's boss by saying SIT and STAY in his big little boy voice. Mostly though, they just love to play together.
Leaving is never easy.
Before we even have our bags packed, Ryan begins telling us all how much he's going to miss Champ. Champ lets Ryan squeeze him with hugs, almost like he, too knows that it's going to be a while before he'll play catch with this boy. I don't hear requests to get any dog. I get requests to stay at Grandma's for "one more day" to play with the dog that is now "his" in my son's heart. It always makes me so sad for him that we can't have a dog where we are or that we can't visit more often. But landlords and father-in-laws have their boundaries.
This time, I had something to ease the separation.
When we got home, Ryan got to meet his new companion. He doesn't slobber or chase or fetch sticks, but he has touched my son's heart. His new dog is the latest Build-A-Bear creation, the Jonas Dog. I wasn't sure how he was going to respond -- whether he'd accept a plush puppy as a substitute for his real playmate or not -- but surprisingly, he has. It's not hard to see why. The Jonas Dog's neck is sewn in a way that makes him flop his head to the side like a real dog waiting for his boy to play with him. On his birth certificate that displays the name my son gave him (Fuzzy), there is also a key code to play on BuildABearVille. So far, he has set up his Cub Condo, safely made on-line friends, and played some fun games.
It's not his big buddy, Champ, but at nap time, when he wraps his small arm around his dog... all is right with the world.
Just leave a comment below with who you would give the sweet little puppy to.
Winner will be randomly chosen when I get back from
LAS VEGAS BABY on Sunday, October 18, 2009.