I’m not crying. There is something in my eye.

Parents (and teachers) of teens need a dog. If you have more than one teen, you might need more than one dog.

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But, Mom, you don’t have to grade papers anymore, because we ate them! See?

I know. You’re busy. There are 857 places to be, 6 loads of laundry to do, and then there’s that weird smell that escapes from the kid’s bedroom when the creature emerges for sustenance before scuttling back to the depths of Angstville. You should check that out. Someday. After mating socks, maybe.

A dog would just create more work. There’s training, feeding, de-hairing the sofa, rescuing the mail, etc. This list, like all of the others, is endless.

I have the double blessing of spending my days with 130 some high school sophomores and juniors and my off hours with a 14 year old and preteen. I love them all, even when they make life hard. Some days they are a delight. Sometimes they hate me. They bring me writings to share, books to read, problems to solve, and then joys and sorrows to unload. My home kid will spontaneously offer to cook dinner or organize the spice cabinet and then refuse to acknowledge my existence 15 minutes later.

This onslaught of teenage emotions can be immensely draining after a day of kids inflicting their hormones on you. It’s okay to cry for yourself. Since life is rough, you need a creature who is happy to see you, no matter what.

Mom! I thought you would never home!
Mom! I thought you’d never come home!

It doesn’t matter if I had a 10 hour day or a surprise half-day, my boys are so very excited to see me when I come home. They don’t care that just this morning I wouldn’t share my eggs and all they had to eat was kibble. All is forgiven and forgotten.

It isn’t just a bandage for my ego that my dogs almost feel like a necessity. That giver of unconditional love, forgiveness, and acceptance of me for who I am is who I want to be for all of my kids. They are all about to go off and spend their lives with people who will be selfish and, sometimes unintentionally, cruel. I can’t protect them forever. Maybe, if I learn enough from my fuzzy fiends friends, the kids will have that feeling that someone believed in them and always will, even if they never have a dog of their own.

And eventually, the kids will leave. They’ll go off to another grade or college and I will retire in a few short years when my home kids are off on their own. I’ll miss the arguing over phone usage, whose turn it is to clean the cat box, and trying to get through to a kid that, yes, you need paper every day for class.

Then, I will be able to show my four-legged companions how much I have appreciated their faith in me all year around instead of just on weekends and summers. If you couldn’t tell, the human kids were a challenge and pup snuggles made it better.

If you are allergic to dogs  or can’t have one , I am always happy to show you pictures, videos, and blog posts of my dogs. They’re pretty special (and extra handsome). They have enough love for all of us.

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