“Ever think of getting this boy a dog?” Dr. Willis says from the comfort of his green leather, swivel chair. We’re on opposing green leather couches that run perpendicular, a square oak table being their conjoining point. On a matching square oak table next to him, Dr. Willis has Rojo’s chart. Can you call something that is eight inches tall, “a” chart?
We’ve been coming and sitting on these green couches for twelve of my son’s thirteen years. My husband on one, me on the other; we know our places, we know the routine, we know each other. The behavioral/developmental pediatrician checks in on Rojo’s peer relationships, diet, “tolerance of frustration,” academics and family dynamics. There is nothing he can say that he hasn’t said before. We are pros. Curve balls are a thing of the past.
I look at him suspiciously, eyebrows raised, refusing to take his bait. Instead of answering I keep my eyes straight ahead focused on the floor to ceiling windows. I will not answer such a ridiculous question. Of course we are not getting this boy a dog. Nor are we sending him to the moon. Such lunacy does not dignify an answer.
“I’m serious,” he says, giving his graying brown hair a swipe back into place and crossing left knee over right, slightly swiveling in his chair.
“No. We have not thought about getting this boy a dog,” I say, moving my eyes hesitantly from the windows to his too-big, outdated glasses. “I need another thing to take care of like I need a hole in the head.”
“I understand.” Dr. Willis says, moving his gaze over to my husband, who wisely says nothing. He would get a dog in a minute and he knows I know that. He also knows that I will be the one most impacted by a dog, and that my sanity already hangs in the balance. He knows muddy paw prints and hair will rock that balance. He knows.
“The right dog, however, would make your life easier, not harder.” Dr. Willis continues. “The right dog would give 90% and take 10%. The right dog would teach Rojo responsibility and be a companion to him. The right dog would help him through this teenage transition in a way you cannot.”
“I agree to at least talk to some of my friends that have both children with special needs, and dogs, and gather information. I agree to do that,” I say with a smug look on my face, I have managed to dodge a bullet while remaining the very essence of open-minded and cooperative.
Apparently I have left the office with more than an open mind and a cooperative nature, I have somehow invited the universe to make a crack into heaven and let the perfect dog fall out and land in my lap, because just sixteen days later we, are not walking out of a doctor’s office, we are walking out of Guide Dogs with our newly adopted, six-year-old retired service dog, Flicka.
She makes my life easier.
She gives 90% and takes 10%.
She is a companion and friend to a boy that badly needs that.
She is teaching my son responsibility.
She is helping with a complicated teenage transition.
Dr. Willis was right, and I am thrilled to say I was wrong.