I knew that I wanted Charlie from the moment I saw him in the arms of another woman. As she reached to touch his soft fur the child next to her gathered him up into a big hug and I knew that I had no chance. He rested safe in the arms of his family and I continued on with my own. Stealthily, I kept watching and waiting for them to leave him alone so I could find out more about him.

My sister and I began to read the tags on the cages that gave the age, rank and serial number of all of the other inmates. This dog was too old. The next one was cute but bigger than what we were looking for. We even spent some time with an older dog named Maggie that had no interest in Isaiah.

Eventually, I looked over and Charlie was being handed back. I slowly crept to his cage and not too eagerly asked if the family he was with had decided to adopt him. I was sure we had missed our chance to bring home the perfect puppy for our little family. The staff member told us that due to malnutrition, Charlie would probably have some deformities limiting his ability to walk. She went on to tell me that he was found starving on a construction site with his mother and his litter. Well, now I had to take him.

We brought Charlie in to play with us and before you know it the paperwork was complete and we were taking him home. On the way home Charlie, who was named for the dog in All Dogs Go To Heaven, peed in my van. I should have known then that we were in trouble. To be fair, most puppies are not potty trained and that is where Charlie excelled. He was potty trained in one weekend.

The real problems began the moment I decided that I did not want to crate train. No dog of mine would spend his day stuffed in some cage. Charlie, like me, was meant to be a free spirit. So, I cuddled him in bed with me, against the advice and condescending stares of my husband. I treated Charlie like a member of the family.

Turns out, when you treat a dog like a member of your family, he starts to act like one. He chews up your Bible, your favorite movie and shoes because when left alone his separation anxiety drives him to find anything of yours and eat it. He sleeps in your bed, on your favorite spot on the couch and refuses to come when called. Oh and don’t even get me started about walking on a leash.

When I had children my mother warned me that I did not want my children to voice their opinions too freely. She said that eventually I would have to reign in their tongues. Unfortunately, just like my dog, she was right. All things flapping in the wind have to be tied down or they blow away. My kids do not always know where the line is and it’s my job to teach them.

I recognize that I want to be unafraid to be myself and say exactly what’s on my mind. Strangely, that need in me has transferred on to my spouse, my children and even my wild, crayon eating dog. I feel great when my son says that he has had a fight with a friend and he doesn’t know what to do. I love that my dog sits next to me on the couch and watches the Bachelor – even if he deserves better. I am not such a big fan when my son tries to wrestle a piñata out of his aunt’s hand declaring that it’s not hers or when Charlie leaps over the fence and runs willy-nilly down the street. Pulling the reigns tighter, tying down the tarp and sit your fanny in time out!

The good news is that sometimes you can roll down your window and let your dog stick his head out of the window with his tongue hanging out. It’s your car and you can do what you want in it.

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