J and Ryan welcome a family member

One of the sad discussions we’ve had with Jillian and Ryan has been the one about kids. They wanted a child. Obviously, that wasn’t going to happen. All of us have dreams denied. This was theirs.

We compromised with a dog.

Say hello to Gracie.

She’s a 2-year-old spaniel, part cocker, part Australian. Or so we’re told. Pleasant, active but not nuts, a dog that was adopted by a foster mom. And now she belongs to our daughter and her husband.

Lots of great things about having a dog. The responsibility, the love, the connection, the licks. Dogs aren’t complicated, either. They don’t clutter their existences with agendas and guile. They are who they are.

Jillian and Ryan are permitted a dog in their apartment complex, as long as it’s no larger than about 35 pounds. Gracie is 30. Our kids already are very responsible — they wouldn’t be married and living entirely independently if they weren’t — but this adds a new level. Previously responsible only for themselves, now they’re in charge of another living thing.

They grew up with dogs. Jillian cried when Walker, our black Lab, died at age 10. Our golden, Lucy, is now the same age. Every once in awhile now, Jillian will offer, “I love Lucy, but I still miss my Walky-dog.”

Giving Jillian and Ryan the responsibility of dog ownership is another step along the independence road. Kerry and I, and Ellen and Dimitri, hope Gracie is good to them and for them. Dogs are God’s creatures. We like to think Jillian and Ryan are, too.

Expect. Don’t accept.

And thanks for reading.