The Friday before last, Brooke’s former dance teacher, ‘A’ sent me a message. She asked if we were still looking for a Cavalier King Charles. She told me that a young woman had come to her mom with a one year old little Cavie. She was going to grad school, she said and she couldn’t bring him with her. She had asked A’s mom, Miss K to find a home for him.

I was confused. Why would someone randomly ask A’s mom to find a home for a dog? And why would it just happen to be the kind of dog we were looking for? A then told me that her family owns a pet center. They have a vet, a kennel and a pet supply store. At least the first question had a logical answer.

Miss K was tempted to keep him, but A convinced her to meet us. We spent a magical day at her house.

Winston is sweet and loving and gentle.

Brooke got closer to him than she has with any other dog. Katie fell in love. Luau fell in love. Even I was infatuated.

As we got into the car, Brooke said she wanted him to come live with us.

It was obvious, even to Miss K.

Winston is our Charlie.


“There are FIVE people in our family now,” Brooke declares as we walk home from school with Winston.

Luau and I picked him up two hours ago. This is the first time the girls are seeing him since we met for the first time four days before.

We are following the steps of a carefully orchestrated dance. I picked up the girls at school while Luau waited around the corner with Winston. Brooke’s beloved behaviorist will walk us home – be there to help guide us.

We met up down the street, away from the schoolyard where the excitement of the crowd would have been too much to handle. The six of us now move toward home in a somewhat awkward clump.

Katie takes the leash. She walks him like a proud peacock. Neighbors and teachers stop to chat as they pass. She beams.

Brooke collects dandelions as we walk. Not a single one escapes her notice. She fills her backpack. There must be forty of them in there.

Katie says, “Mama, does she know those are just weeds?”

I smile. “It’s all a matter of perspective, isn’t it Katie?”


Her nails dig into the soft flesh of my neck as she scrambles her way up my torso. Adrenaline has taken over, effectively eviscerating any hope of reason or logic getting through.

She’s terrified. It’s plain, simple and visceral.

She wraps her legs around my waist – anything to keep her feet off the floor. Every atom of her being is tense – ready for fight or flight.

“NOOOO WIIIINNNNNNSSSSSSTTTTTTONNNNNN NOOOOOOOOO!” she yells. “WINSTON! WINSTON! WINSTON! NOOOOOOOOO!” She has no idea that by yelling his name she’s actually calling him to her. Thank God he’s confused enough by this odd little person that he does nothing but stand stock still. But he’s on high alert. It’s an odd, awkward show-down.

Her feet have not touched the floor on the first floor of our house since he arrived. She has walked on furniture, jumped from chair to sofa and back and scrambled up the side of any human being big enough to hold her.


As we lie together in bed I ask her, “Brooke, what do you think about having Winston here?”

I know it’s abstract, but I don’t want to put words in her mouth. I need to find a way to hear it from her. Have we pushed her too far? Does she still want this? Can it work? For three days now it’s been hard.


She answers quietly, “He loves us.”

“Yes, baby, I think he does. But what about you? Do you like having him here in our house – living with us?”

“Yup,” she answers softly.

“Brooke, do you want Winston to stay with us?”

“I do,” she says.

We lie together in the dark. I can hear her breathe and feel her little heart beat.

She adds one more thought.

“We love him too.”


Katie and Winston

April 2010

20 thoughts on “winston

  1. So sweet on so many levels. The not-yelling-his-name lesson is a hard one to learn. We hear a lot of “NO CLARAs” from a certain young man in our home, even though he is very proud to be a dog owner…from a distance.


  2. She will get there, hang on Winston and Katie! An adjustment for both but your careful search has paid off 🙂

  3. Brooke is so brave. It’s not easy to face your fears like that, and the fact that she is willing to try, and that she will even admit that she thinks it’s good for him to be there – even though she’ scared – well, that’s huge.

    Good luck to all of you with this transition.

  4. You will be amazed how quickly that little pup figures out what Brooke needs. I swear they have intuition about how to be gentle with those who need it.

  5. Oh man he’s cute! Change is not easy. We talked a lot about slow quiet movements, that yelling and motion attract the dog–but it doesn’t sink in for awhile, and some days it hasn’t sunk in at all. We had some rough times with our pup and the Roc too, but at the end of the day when we would ask him the same questions–he had the same kind of answers. She’s taking her time, she’ll get there, and she’ll be so much more expanded for it.

  6. Congratulations! We have a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Truby. She’s totally my parents’ dog, though. Elsie is my cat. Truby is small, only about 10-11 lbs. And very cute. She’s red and white. I like your Winston!

  7. He is beautiful, and I think that given a little bit of time Brooke will come around. Change is major for our babies, but the fact that she wants him around says so much!! I hope this happens soon. Oh and the dandelion picking is great, D does this with sticks 🙂

  8. Rojo started asking for breaks from Flicka right after we got her, and was acting up in school, the change was hard on him. Now he says stuff like, “I was born for this dog.” They are inseparable and I’ve never heard him belly laugh like I do now.

    Slowly, slowly…


  9. Any time you get a new family member, there’s some transition… Baby steps. But it sounds like Katie’s love is enough for now to keep Brooke going- and Katie’s providing a model for Brooke- like she does for so many things, I’m sure…

    And I LOVE the dandelion story- it sounds like Brooke was distracting herself and coping quite successfully with a stressful situation. I also found that the terror eased when I kept explaining that our puppy thought that my son WAS a puppy- Ray ran around yelping for quite some time and “tried on” being a puppy for a while.

  10. Wow is he adorable. And wow you must be worn out. This is a huge wonderful amazing change that is taking lots of energy. Remember to take it one step at a time. Do the next right thing.


  11. I didn’t know he was a Cavalier! My stepmom has one of those. She’s the cutest thing ever and very, very photogenic. I had never seen one before. Good choice!

  12. success! that’s a huge change for her to absorb, so it’s great that she’s making space in her world for the little guy. i know it’s hard on her, but that’s the way she is, extremely brave, tough. quite nice.

  13. Pingback: a girl and her dog « a diary of a mom

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