If you’re shaking your head and using the Lord’s name in vain, know that I was doing the same thing less than one week ago.
After Wilson died, our adult children asked if we were going to get another dog. Gary said yes at the very moment I snapped no. Gary looked hurt and the kids got quiet and I felt mean and controlling.
I softened my declaration by saying, “We won’t go looking for a dog, but if one comes into our lives we’ll keep it.” This was stated as a far off, someday, maybe type of possibility (as in hopefully never).
Harrison and Laine, along with Harrison’s girlfriend Kasi, visited for the Labor Day weekend. These constitute Paul Bunyan Days in Fort Bragg. Saturday morning, Harrison and Kasi said they were going downtown and Laine left to visit a friend.
We had plans to meet friends for a late lunch at Dolphin Isle Marina. My afternoon family agenda included the Ugly Dog Contest and the Volunteer Fire Department Water Fights. I was excited to engage in activities that we hadn’t shared since their childhood.
At one o’clock I sent text messages. Harrison and Kasi were running late. Laine was running late. I was running bitter. I decided not to wait for them and drove to Dolphin Isle. I was surprised when they arrived at the same time.
Laine returned home with me while Harrison and Kasi went on a mission to buy fish straight off a commercial fishing boat. I reminded them of the three o’clock Ugly Dog Contest. They said they’d be on time.
Shortly after three, Laine said, “Harrison and Kasi are here. Let’s go outside.”
Harrison walked through the front gate alone. I asked, “Where’s Kasi?”
Kasi was led through the gate by an Arctic white puppy with a brown patch of fur circling one eye. Harrison, Laine and Kasi sported impish smiles.
No! No! Oh God No! I forced a chuckle. “Take it back.”
Their smiles faded.
“Is it a girl?”
“Yes,” they said in unison.
“Okay, then her name is Lucy,” I said. “We need to get her a crate and some food.”
Our thoughtful kids had already gotten everything she needed.
Our thoughtful kids did what they felt was best to help their parents recover from the loss of Wilson.
They had spent hours at the Mendocino Coast Humane Society “testing” every puppy to choose the perfect fit for us.
The remainder of the afternoon and evening was spent loving on Lucy and helping her adjust to her surroundings. That night, I set up an air mattress next to her crate.
My fantasy Lucy was supposed to be a poodle. Or a Yorkie. Or a Yorkie-poodle. Not a Weimaraner mix, a breed that I couldn’t even spell. I lay awake until the wee hours of Sunday morning reading online about Weimaraners, about how they need lots of exercise and how they can grow to the size of a dozen Yorkies executing a pyramid stunt.
At 6:00am, Lucy whimpered. I opened the crate door and she crawled onto my lap. I marveled that the 75-lb. dog of my nightmares was so small, so cuddly, and such a sweet, affectionate baby.
Sunday was spent with a mass of humans taking care of her.
On Monday after the parade, the kids left Gary and me with sole custody of our new puppy. I stood on the porch, waved goodbye and verged on hyperventilation. Our “pack” was leaving. I wanted to go to the park with a handful of cash and sit at the picnic bench until a dealer came by to offer me narcotics.
We had not had a puppy in many years. We had not finished mourning the loss of our buddy Wilson. We suddenly had to gear up to nurture a vibrant new life.
The currents of life are ever changing—dang it anyway. I can struggle against this fact or surrender to it. I can accept this gift from my loving children and be grateful that they think their dad and I are up to the challenge of raising a dog that will eventually become a great companion.