Friday, July 20, 2012
It's been four years since we last had a dog.
Stan and I started our marriage as dog owners. Not quite two months after our wedding we were gifted with an eight week old golden retriever puppy. Yep, that's right I said "gifted." She was a planned wedding present from a good friend of ours. We named her "Lady Charles of Manhattan" and called her, simply, Charlie. She was our first baby and we were madly in love, not only with each other, but our new addition as well. We raised her fairly well and she turned out to be a fantastic dog. She had her quirks and her idiosyncrasies but she was ours.
She lived a good life, with a few bumps along the road. We had a massive skin cancer scare with her when she was four. Zach was a baby. Stan was in Bosnia and I was home, in Manhattan, Kansas, with my parents. I was broken hearted when I got the news that Charlie might not live six months, thinking that Stan would never see her again and Zach wouldn't grow up knowing Charlie. But luckily I was home and K-State vet school came to her rescue. Being one of the best vet schools in the nation, they worked tirelessly to make sure that Charlie not only survived her skin cancer but thrived for years to come.
We loved her and loved her and loved her. The love was reciprocated to not only us but the kids as well, when they each came along. As we settled in to our new home in Louisville we decided it was time to add another golden girl to our house so we adopted Rudy from a golden retriever rescue and added one more sweet, golden face to the mix before Claire was born. And Rudy gave back the same love Charlie did. Our house was crazy, chaotic and hairy but it was happy and full of love.
And then it happened...we lost our first golden girl. Charlie died suddenly one morning when Zach was getting ready to feed the girls. She just collapsed and died. It was heartbreaking. Stan was hit the hardest. He cried for a week straight. Rudy's death was harder in a different way. We had to make that agonizing decision about when to let her go. Her hips were gone. Stan's arms were her back legs. She was incontinent and couldn't walk a step on her own but she still held us spellbound with those delicious golden retriever eyes. It was a brutal decision and in the end I became a coward and let Stan take her to the vet on his own.
It was hard to get over losing those two beauties and it took us this many years to get here.
Last year about this time, I had a chat with Stan about how Zach is going to be leaving for college soon, so if we're going to get another dog now is the time to do it so Zach can bond with her before he leaves. Stan agreed, in principle but not in practicality. It just wasn't practical to think about adding a new puppy to the house.
But over the past months I noticed golden retriever pictures pulled up on my computer. Websites of one breeder or another popped up. The kids were going all out in the assault on us to add a dog to this crazy, zany family.
And it worked...on me at least. Stan somehow was impervious to the repeated requests. Part of me had to wonder if he felt like no puppy would ever measure up to our first girl. Another part of me knows he's practical...too practical at times but he balances my impulsive side.
For me, though, this decision was anything but impulsive, though it may seem like it since I rarely talked about puppies or dogs and I certainly never talked about it here. But in my infinite wisdom I knew that right now is a good time to get a puppy. There will never be a "perfect" time or even "great" time so I had to go with "good." The kids are older and able to help with training her. Zach is leaving soon. And Zach doesn't play travel hockey anymore (I guess there are benefits to him not playing hockey after all). The time is as good as it gets as far as I was concerned.
The deal was clinched, for me, the moment I laid eyes on her...our new girl. Claire had the website to the breeder open on my computer. I decided to see, just see, if they had any girls available from the latest litter. I got the email response and there she was....Bella. Zach had already named her in his head. And when I met her, I knew that was the right name for her. She's a beauty. When I met her my heart melted. I knew she was coming home with us.
Now to convince Stan or just bring her home and surprise him? I truly thought about just bringing her home. I was pretty sure his reaction would be what I wanted and if it wasn't I could always use the "sometimes it's better to beg forgiveness than ask permission" theory. But in the end, I knew that wouldn't be the fair way to do it.
Jan and Zach knew I went to see her. Stan thought I went to run errands the day I went to meet Bella and check her out. When I came back two hours later with only a container of cole slaw the gig was up and I had to fess up. I told Stan I went and found the world's cutest puppy. Jan was with me when I told Stan where I had been and showed him the picture. Jan said he knew we won when Stan's first question was "What are we going to name her?" I told him her name would be "Bella." Stan countered with "No, her name will be Shit-head." It was then Jan said he knew for sure ~ Baby Bella was coming home to us. I leaped into Stan's lap, wrapped my arms around him and kissed him. My way of thanks!
She is home now and much loved, especially by Stan. He comes down stairs in the morning and says "Where's my puppy?" Bella "helps" Stan with emails. He sits at his desk with her on his lap and works on his computer. He laughs when she climbs off his lap and onto his desk and walks across his keyboard. He is in love...puppy love. What a sweet little baby Bella is.
Puppies are for the love of my children (all of them, including Stan)....