After we lost Buddy this past summer, I think we expected someday, eventually, to welcome another dog into our household. Grieving took time, part of which was removing reminders of his presence. Most–the food and water bowls, the crate in the basement, the bed in front of our living room fireplace–were put away quickly. Others took a little longer to get around to, either out of sheer sentimentality (nose smudges on car windows and the front storm door) or obscurity (pet hair can lodge itself in the darndest places). But Martha and I also needed space and rest. The last few months with Buddy had been wearing as his health issues worsened. While it was hard in respects not to have a canine friend in the house, we welcomed the freedom to (more or less) come and go as we pleased again.
There came a point in the fall, though, that we began to think about a new pup. Martha discovered petfinder.com, where one could browse through pages of available dogs within a 100-mile radius. Eventually I also started visiting the site, and before long we were sharing potential pooches we’d identified. We agreed that, since we were only going to be getting older, there had to be an upper bound on size and weight (sixtyish-pound Buddy had been awfully hard to manage toward the end). Martha expressed interest in looking at low-shedding breeds. As far as personality goes, gentleness was a must. And we weren’t too sure how much we wanted to try our hand at training a puppy.
The pace of visits to petfinder.com and the websites of local shelters and rescues we learned about through it picked up through December. Occasionally we lamented missing an opportunity to put in an application on a particular dog, but mostly we felt paralyzed–what were we looking for? And how much could we really know about a dog from a picture or two and a thumbnail sketch?
Once we got through Christmas and put all the decorations away, things became more serious, to the point that we began making arrangements to see dogs. Martha and I started this past Thursday at the local animal shelter, checking out a couple of strays: a Schnauzer mix that had recently been picked up in the parking lot at Big Lots and a feisty Feist mix who was literally bouncing herself (and a toy) off the walls. The former had possibilities, but the latter, while exceedingly entertaining, was just a bit (understatement alert) too wild for us.
In the meantime, we’d submitted an application to a rescue about fifty miles away. Over the weeks we had identified several dogs of interest at this rescue, the latest being a bit of a surprise, a ten-week-old border collie mix. Their application asked for quite a bit of info, including the name of the vet we used, a character reference, how many hours a day we expected to leave the dog at home by itself, etc. We found out just before our animal shelter visit that our application to the rescue had been approved, along with a would you like to visit on Saturday morning and might you also want to meet this other, six-month-old puppy?
So, yesterday Martha, Ben, and I drove to Adopt Me! Bluegrass Pet Rescue in Crestwood, KY. Before we walked into the place, I was conservatively estimating the probability of walking out with a dog at 75-80% (conservative because we’d begun discussing names). Within ten minutes, I could tell it had shot up to virtually 100%. Our host at the rescue chose to bring out the six-month-old first. She’d been brought to the rescue less than three weeks earlier, along with her brother (they’d been informally christened as Bonnie and Clyde). The two had been found alongside a rural road in the area, huddled not far away from their deceased mother. The speculation was that the three had been dumped in the countryside; the mother had been hit and killed by a vehicle.
“Bonnie” charmed us immediately with her submissive nature, rolling over on her back to receive pets. She played with toys a little, but mostly she was eager to please and simply seemed to want to be loved. When Martha let slip an “I love you” while Ben was holding Bonnie, you could tell where things were headed. We did also visit with the border collie mix. “Violet” was completely adorable, though much more interested in playing than wooing us. She will be a fantastic dog for someone. After a few moments of discussion, it was unanimous to adopt Bonnie. On the way home, we settled on a new name for our new friend: Sadie.
We’ve had Sadie home for less than thirty-six hours, and already she’s growing more comfortable in her new surroundings. Yesterday she spent a lot of time in her crate; today she’s learned that sitting on the couch next to Martha is mighty comfy. Housebreaking is going decently so far (knock on wood, of course). I think stairs are new to her but going up them has become a breeze (going down still inspires a little trepidation). She really likes going outside to chase and fetch a squeaky toy. Inside, well, she’s already destroyed a couple of new toys via aggressive chewing. Who knows what developments await us tomorrow?
I’ve been reminding myself that we’re not trying to replace Buddy–we’re simply wanting to offer love to another dog. Sadie doesn’t check all the boxes we might have had in mind originally, but the most important one, the demeanor, is there in spades. She is quite possibly the last pet I’ll own; I’m excited that we’ll be going through the next decade-plus with her.