When I was about 7 months pregnant with Juniper, Dutch had a great idea. He proposed it to me exactly like this:

"We should get a puppy when your maternity leave starts! You're going to be home for a few months with the baby anyway, so it's the perfect time to get a puppy. It'll be awesome!"

I'm not sure exactly how I responded, but I'm pretty sure I tossed in plenty of shock, a smidge of outrage, and a whole helping of incredulity that my husband could have temporarily lost such a grip on his goddamn sanity.

During the last two months of my pregnancy, whenever anyone asked me how Dutch was doing, and was he ready to be a dad, I told this story as an example of how he just "didn't get it" to people who wanted to hear about how he didn't get it. Obviously, we never seriously considered getting a dog at that time. Instead, I interpreted the fact that he could even suggest something so ridiculous to mean that my worst nightmare was about to come true. I pictured myself sitting on the couch, slowly going crazy, struggling to nurse a newborn for at least 22 hours a day, with Dutch at his office completely unsympathetic and clueless about what life was like for me at home.

That's not what happened, of course. After Juniper was born, Dutch took all the paternity leave his firm offered, and he was at home more days than he was in the office for the first few months of her life. He fought with me over the privilege of holding her and changing her diapers, and he took sole responsibility for putting her to sleep at night -- the most difficult chore we faced -- so that I could have a break and watch Season 5 of American Idol in peace.

Now I tell the ill-advised puppy-proposal story for a different reason: to explain how badly Dutch has wanted a dog.

When we were first friends and freshmen in college, nearly 11 years ago, I knew that Dutch liked me when he dragged me down the parking lot outside of our dorm to meet his parent's new puppy, a tiny wiggling dalmation. It was also the first time I met his parents, but that part was no big deal. The dog was who he was excited to show me.

When Dutch and I were first dating, his mom whispered a story to me about him while he was out of the room. She told me that when she and his father had taken his first dog to the vet to put her to sleep, and left Dutch home with his sister, they'd come home to find him missing. They followed his footprints in the two-foot deep snow and eventually found him sitting in the woods crying.

Somewhere in the boxes of college stuff I have in our basement, there's a picture of a 20 year-old Dutch wearing puma sneakers with a huge smile on his soft, stubble free cheeks crouching down and petting a strange black lab. We met the dog while we were visiting a castle in Ireland when we lived there. Dutch played with that dog for an hour.

Because of stuff like that, I always knew that we'd have a dog. I even promised Dutch that when Juniper learned to say the word "dog" that we'd get one. Though he tried to argue that her panting at the sight of a strange canine counted when she was eleven months old, I disagreed. Now she's able to identify specific breeds, so I guess I broke that promise, but until now, until this very week, it wasn't the right time. This morning, I tried to call Dutch but his line was busy, and he wasn't picking up the call waiting. "I'm sorry about that," he apologized later. "I was talking to my dad. He was crying. He had Dolly put to sleep early this morning." Dolly was the dalmation Dutch introduced me to when we were still in our teens. This thing is in Dutch's blood.

Despite how badly Dutch has wanted and needed a dog in his life for as long as I've known him, he's still nervous that now isn't the right time. He's still afraid of the dog hair, and he's even more scared that the dog will be something that I resent. He overheard me tell my mother on the phone that "I'm not a dog person," and he's worried that I don't really to want to have Wendell around.

But he's wrong. I'm not a dog person only because I've never had the privilege of living with one before. I haven't seen Dutch so excited -- and so nervous -- since Juniper was born, and that alone is enough to make me excited.

Welcome to our family, Wendell. I'm glad to have you.