Puppy Love: When is it okay to get a new pet?
Have you ever heard the term “heart dog”? If you’re a dog lover you probably have, but if not, think of it as your canine soulmate. I had a heart dog and her name was Morgan. She was my loyal and faithful dog for thirteen blessed years and my life is richer for having had her in it. I couldn't have asked for a more wonderful companion for me and my family.
I sometimes say that Morgan was like my first kid. I got her when I was single and working at a farm so I was able to take her to work with me every day. She was with me pretty much everywhere I went. I was her person. She was my constant shadow. She considered me her top sheep and she was extremely protective of me. As life happened, she welcomed my first husband (and his dog) and eventually our kids into her “flock”. She would even follow the kids all over the property when they would play outside. She became their shadow too. When she passed away I lost a little piece of myself and my heart still aches just to have one more day with her. One day I realized something was not right, but I had no idea that is would be my last day with her. I said goodbye hoping she knew how much I loved her and how hard it was for me to let her go. This was almost two years ago and there are still days where the grief is raw and just thinking of her is enough to bring tears to my eyes. Right after Morgan passed away someone sent me a poem that was written from the perspective of a beloved pet having just crossed the Rainbow Bridge and leaving a last will and testament to the ones they left behind:
To a poor and lonely stray, I’d give my happy home;
My bowl and cozy bed; soft pillow and all my toys;
The lap which I love so much; the hand that stroked fur;
And the sweet voice that spoke my name.
I’d will to the sad, scared shelter dog
The place I had in my human’s loving heart
Of which there seemed no bounds.
So when I die, please do not say,
“I will never have a pet again, for the loss and pain
Is more than I can stand.”
Instead, go find an unloved dog, one whose life has held
No joy or hope and give my place to him.
This is the only thing I can give...the love I left behind.
I could barely finish reading the poem without weeping. It broke my heart all over again because I was that person who said I could never have a dog again because it hurt way too much to have to say goodbye. When people would ask when we were getting another dog I was always very confident in saying that we weren’t. I wasn’t ready nor did I think I would ever be. Go find an unloved dog, one whose life has held no joy or hope and give my place to him…This line must have stuck with me because over time and through the heartache my heart slowly changed. I started to consider what it might be like to have another dog and my husband started looking online at several different shelters and rescue organizations. We thought that if we were to get another dog, it should be one in need of a loving home. We were shocked at how many dogs were available for adoption or living in shelters. We filled out applications, inquired about several dogs and even started making arrangements to foster or adopt a dog. We were very excited about the possibility of having a dog again and it made us realize how much we not only missed Morgan, but missed having a dog in the family. Long story short and unbeknownst to us, the organization we were communicating with about fostering to adopt ended up adopting the dog to someone else and never told us. But its funny how things don’t always work out the way you want and in the end it’s for the better. And in the end it brought us Bodie.
Bodie wasn’t a rescue like we had planned and we didn’t save him from home where he was unloved. In fact it was probably love that made his previous family give him up. They knew they couldn’t give him what he needed so they were looking to rehome him. The day I met him he was a crazy, little ball of fur bursting with energy. He was totally spun and I could see how much work it was going to take to make him into the quiet, calm dog I was used to having in Morgan. But as soon as I breathed in his “puppy” smell and tried to pet his furiously squirming body I knew he had found his new home with us. Bringing home a puppy is like having a baby in the house. Every spare moment is devoted to either feeding, training or playing with the dog. I knew it would be a lot of work and it most certainly is, but slowly and surely we are getting there. We go to obedience class every week and every single day we practice all the skills we are taught in class. Some days I feel like our progress is at a standstill (or even regressing) and other days I can see glimpses of the light at the end of the tunnel. One day all the hard work will be more than worth it.
I like to think that Morgan would be proud that we’ve moved on and happy that we’ve given Bodie a new home. She would know that she can never be replaced and that we will cherish her forever. I still miss Morgan, but having Bodie makes the pain of losing her a little more bearable. He’s been a good addition to the family and is so full of potential. I look forward to seeing all that we can accomplish together. I may have loved and lost, but I’m happy to say I’ve been able to move on and finally share the love that was left behind.