Our subject this month is animal stories, but I have already posted one of the two animal scenes in any of my books. Since one of the biggest changes in our lives over the last three months involves a dog, I thought I would write about that.
Cat people, bear with me. Dog people ~ you will relate.
For twenty-one years, from 1990 until 2011, we had at least one and up to three dogs in our home at all times. The first was a purebred cocker, and the rest were various rescues of uncertain lineage. These precious companions kept watch over our home of four human children, four exchange students, and the occasional friend needing a place to stay.
While these sweethearts were with us, no one never came home to an empty house, and everyone was suitably greeted and appreciated. No one had to watch television alone, read a book alone, or in my son's case, sleep alone.
Over the years, we buried a few of our darlings in the back yard. When our son bought his own home, he took his two adorable babies with him. My husband and I were left at home with an empty nest. And Pepper.
Pepper was a rescue pup we adopted in 1995 when the cocker died. She was never a cuddler, preferring to lie on the floor by our feet. Sold as a "Dalmatian/Springer spaniel mix" (a wrong guess, as became obvious later) our white short-hair with black dots had an interesting personality.
She was shy with people, barking at our friends and strangers alike. She was very intelligent, and figured out how to open the interior doors of our house. First she leaned on the lever-style door knobs and pushed. Later, she stood up, pushed down on the lever with one paw, and pulled the knob toward her with the other.
We had to warn houseguests about that trick, in case she overcame her shyness and decided to visit their room during their stay.
And then, there was the shedding. Pepper was an over-achiever when it came to manufacturing loose hair. Sweeping the house twice a week would net a pile the equivalent of a rabbit. No amount of brushing ever found an end to her supply.
Pepper was always in the room I was in. I was her person, and she was not going to leave her post. Even after she went deaf. And cataracts were stealing her sight. And the arthritis in her hips made it hard for her to get up and follow me around the house.
That's when we knew: It Was Time. Our sixteen-and-a-half year-old girl ~ still fully continent, aware, and with a good appetite ~ just couldn't make her body move any more. We found a vet that came to the house and gave her the shot on her bed while we petted her. Interestingly enough, she didn't bark when he walked up to the door. I think she knew.
Two years passed, and our house remained dog-less. Hubby and I were admittedly enjoying the freedom to travel. And the freedom from dog hair. And, let's be honest, the lack of poop in the yard.
But he wanted a companion when he walked. I wanted something fuzzy to nurture. We talked about it, looked at the plans on our calendar, and made the decision: we would adopt a Standard Poodle puppy in November of 2013.
I set about contacting breeders, and on October 31st we drove three-and-a-half hours each way to pick up Guinness, our eight-week-old chocolate-colored poodle puppy. I was so happy, I cried.
Already ten pounds when we adopted her, she has grown to thirty-six pounds at five months. She adjusted well to a leash and loves to take long walks with my husband. She still loves to climb into my lap to snuggle. And she doesn't shed.
Having a dog in the house again has transformed our lives. Hubby picks up poop without complaining. I cleaned up pee until housebreaking was accomplished. We cut outings short so she wouldn't be crated for longer than her puppy bladder could stand ~ and we were happy to return to her.
In return, we are loved, licked, cuddled, and played with. Adored and obeyed. Encouraged and accompanied. Our home is complete again.
I wonder… does she need a sibling?