"Happiness is a warm puppy."
My father had several credos he lived by:
You can never have to many flashlights.
The best way to get over losing a dog is to get a new one as soon as possible.
The month before he passed away his beloved Black Beauty's hind legs gave out. She was in so much pain, I did made the decision to euthanize her. The next day my father started talking up the pros of a new dog. He failed to see how much more work that would be for me. I didn't know Dad was so close to death, but I did know he was getting harder and harder to take care of. There was just no way I could handle the responsibility of a new dog so I put my foot down. Not something I did very often with my father. It was the right thing to do. But I still regret it. Especially so because he would have loved Suzi Q.
About 6 months after Dad passed away Sweetie and I went to the Humane Society to look at a dog that had been advertised as a German Shepherd. It was more horse than dog. On our way through the maze of kennels and cacophony of barking/crying dogs, I noticed a beauty with the biggest, brownest eyes. I've always been a sucker for brown eyes. It wasn't the dog I had come for, so I kept walking. However, after deciding against the shepherd, I took a second look on the way out. Big mistake. Once our eyes met, I knew this dog would be going home with us.
We were told Suzi was a Beagle/Shepherd mix. There is doubt that she carried a variety of canine DNA in her veins but she was more American Fox Hound than anything. Of course we didn't know that until we crossed paths with a fox one night on our walk and she let out a sound that I've only heard in British movies when a fox hunt was in full swing. Although Suzi may have known exactly where the neighborhood fox hung out, she wasn't what one might call the smartest dog in the litter. Despite the money we spent on training, she never learned to do much more than appear in the kitchen at dinner time. But oh, how she loved. I fussed at her a lot because she was always asking for one more head rub.
And then, in an eerie similarity, her back legs gave out. She was in excruciating pain. As Sweetie, Johnson and I sat nearby sobbing, the vet gently put an end to the pain. I took the exact opposite approach from my father. I swore I'd never have another dog again. Saying goodbye is just too damn hard. Besides we still shared the house with 2 cats and a 4 year old, 70 lb. American Bulldog with the heart of a puppy. There really wasn't any to get another dog.
Except. We missed Suzi. And the more we missed her, the more we considered getting another dog to fill the hole she left behind. We decided to "just look" at rescue sites, the City Animal Control, the Humane Society, Craig's List. I was pretty sure when the right dog came along, we'd know it. We brought a couple home. One didn't like Maizey. One didn't like the mailman.
Then Sweetie began to wonder if there is such a thing as a service dog for ALZ patients. Could a dog be trained to remember where he left his keys? If he stood in the kitchen wondering why he was there, could a dog give him some kind of clue? If he began to wander like some ALZ patients do, could a dog bring him home - a la Lassie? All good questions deserving lots of research. Not to mention dollars and time.
There are a lot of things that can be said about my son, at the top of the list is his affinity for all creatures large and small. It's a gift. To see him with Maizey is to see love in action. Johnson knew we wanted a dog. Knew all the pros. Knew all the cons. Knew better than us that a Lab puppy was what we were looking for. Knew that once we saw it we'd melt and not think twice about the work involved in taking care of a puppy. He was right. And something tells me, even the spirit of Dad that hangs around the house is a little bit happier.
7 week old Yellow Lab from Hoboken, GA
|Love at first sight|
|Grumpy Grandma watching the young whippersnapper play with a ball that looks suspiciously like hers.|
|I'll just jump down to the bench, then I'll be that much closer to the floor when I fall.|
|A rawhide. I knew I'd find something good in here!|
|Big dog. Little pillow.|
|Little dog. Big Pillow.|
|One of these things is not like the others. Can you spot it?|
|The great explorer|
|You said fetch. You didn't say anything about bringing the ball back to you.|