It was only a few weeks after we got engaged that Alan called to tell me he had a “new little buddy.” Some random person had offered him a puppy, the last of a litter he was trying to find homes for. And so we ended up with a German Shepherd/Rottweiler mix, a fuzzy little bear of a pup.
He was always a sweet dog, although he showed his naughty side often enough. He was a sucker for a chance to go exploring. As he got bigger he would knock me over to push through a half open door or pull his collar or leash right out of my fingers (or drag me behind if I was too dumb or too dumbfounded to let go) to tear off into the neighborhood. I was always afraid he’d get into trouble. He could look scary to someone who didn’t know him. Luckily, he never got hurt, although he did come home in the back of a police car once, and there was at least one dead chicken with some pretty convincing circumstantial evidence that may have pointed his direction…
He settled down quite a bit in the last few years as his snout started to grey, although I still always saw him as that same crazy, excitable young dog, and he certainly played the part when the kids wanted to play. Late this summer he developed a tumor in his abdomen, and last week he died. It was so hard to see him fade away in the end, acting nothing like my Buddy.
The kids wanted a new dog right away, an impulse I do understand. I really, really didn’t want a new dog right now. I have bad childhood memories in this area. After my beloved golden retriever Sandi died, I wanted a new one immediately. We got another golden, Maggie. Maggie was a sweet dog, but inevitably, she was very unlike Sandi. I really kind of resented her for a while. I didn’t want to repeat that mistake.
It was awful lonely around here without a dog, though. Especially those nights when Alan works. Buddy was my companion once the kids were in bed. When things went bump in the night I could always figure it was nothing to be concerned about if Buddy wasn’t disturbed by it. I also tend to stay up way too late on those nights, working on various projects, but Buddy always made me go to bed at a fairly reasonable hour because he would start going nuts if I didn’t get into bed. Now there’s no one keeping an ear out with me, no one making sure I keep an eye on the time. I’ll concede that the cat does keep me company, but goodness knows he wouldn’t lower himself to show an interest in my activities.
And then… Alan started looking into breeds that we might look at. I happen to be a sucker for mutts. So I started looking at rescued dogs to see if any fit the kind of dog he was thinking about – just to throw the idea into the conversation, really. And then I happened to find one that seemed to be just what we were probably looking for, even though I didn’t really want to look yet. And now I find myself about to go meet a new dog tomorrow – a new puppy, really. A new 70 pound, 9 month old puppy that we might be taking home with us. I want to be ready for this, but I really don’t know if I am, or if any of us are. The great thing about most dogs, though, is that their hearts are big enough to compensate when ours fail us. It may have taken me a little time to completely warm to Maggie, but I surely did grow to love her just as much as I loved Sandi. Just maybe a new, big-hearted puppy is exactly what we all need.