He’s not even two years old yet, but Miles already has two best friends: our old English lab and our middle-aged mutt, his constant companions. They have both adored him from the start. Now that he’s running around, he plays ball with the lab, (which is hilarious) chases the mutt, and snuggles up with (or sits on) them all the time. He makes sure they eat pretty good these days, too, dutifully sharing both his favorite snacks and his least favorite vegetables.
Our dogs have been a part of Miles’ life ever since the day he was born. When we drove from Virginia to Texas after getting the call that Miles’ birthmother was in labor, we packed up the car and brought the dogs because we had no idea when we’d be back (and we only had one day notice that we were about to have a baby!). So they knew him right from the start and immediately went into protector mode.
We ended up being in Texas for an entire month, and were very happy to have the dogs with us on the most important trip of our lives (after all, they were our babies first). When we were feeling stressed over ICPC or the frustrating Texan adoption agency we had to work with, we would look at sweet, sleeping Miles, and then pet the dogs. When we had no idea if we were ever going to be able to go home, I would put Miles in a baby carrier and walk the dogs. We both remarked several times on that trip how glad we were that they were there (even if they added an extra layer of complexity to the situation).
I love that I have photos like the one below when Miles was four days old and we were living in a hotel room (was that ever an adventure) and then from the porch of the sweet little house we rented on AirBnB for three weeks.
Having a pet has been proven to be great for your health by lowering anxiety and stress levels. Dogs are there for you always, whenever you need them, absolutely unconditionally. Even though they are not humans, their company makes us feel less alone. If you’ve ever wrestled with a stressful, sad, scary, depressing situation, you know how isolating it can sometimes be. Dogs are soft and furry, which in addition to getting hair all over your couch and black pants, also provides comfort that’s hard to beat. To simply pet a dog or cat is to lower your blood pressure as much as lowering your sodium intake.
Look, see — Miles doesn’t appear stressed at all, does he?
In the same way that I want to equip him with a love of nature and the outdoors to help him when he struggles, I also want him to equip him with a love for animals.
Having a dog has helped me through so many hard times in my life. My dogs have been on the receiving end of my tears too many times to count and have never once backed away from offering a furry shoulder to cry on.
When Miles is going through his teenage years, and in young adolescence when he tries to make sense of his adoption and racial identity, I want his dog to be sitting next to him. I want him to be able to pet that dog and calm himself and know that that dog is his–his best, most loyal friend, his companion, his protector. When he feels that there is no one in this world who understands him, I want his dog to lick his face and beg him to play ball or go for a walk. I want the responsibility of caring for a dog to bring him back to reality if he ever starts to spiral into darkness.
This is something that Miles’ birthmother also wanted for him. Our dogs were one of the reasons that she chose us to be his family. She never had the chance to have a dog, but she said that she thought every little kid should–and she loved the thought that he would have two.
I’m pretty sure that he would agree with that wholeheartedly.