Life is not a dress rehearsal. Stop practicing what you’re going to do and just go do it. In one bold stroke you can transform today. -Marilyn Grey
In one blink of an eye, Tucker was gone. The same was true with our corgi Sophie and basset hound Rocky. I have known the same feeling with friends lost to ill-timed disease or accident. Each time I learn the profound and continuing truth that life is tenuous. Embrace it fully. This moment does not come around a second time.
Losing three senior dogs in a short period of time was tough. It created a hole that even I was unprepared to embrace. I scrambled to fill the hole that grief made, and was met resoundingly by a “no, not quite yet”. From one shelter to another I was in search of the perfect dog I just lost. My heart broke a thousand times over for animals left in shelters, their days numbered. I wept profusely in the presence of my husband and brother in law who gamely went with me to the temporary shelters of dogs and cats without homes. Their restraint was perhaps a blessing. Timing is everything.
A few weeks later, it was an odd yet comforting feeling to find myself at the home of a breeder whose passion is Corgis. Welsh Pembroke Corgis to be exact. I landed here in part thanks to my husband, Jim, who expressed a willingness to embrace a Corgi child if that is what I wanted. The rest came as a result of an internet search for responsible breeders. This is how we found our new “child”.
A puppy? Do we dare? We fell in love with our Corgi, Sophie, but she was very senior when she walked into our lives. It had been over 12 years since Tucker in all his youthful exuberance pounced off the walls of my townhome. For the most part, I knew how to raise a puppy, but what possessed us now, especially one from a breeder? Our home had been a testament for pets lost because of a change in circumstance. You name it, pets end up in shelters for countless reasons – owners unprepared for the demands of a pet, a lost job, a new home that would not allow pets — the circumstances were endless. If lucky, we knew some of the reasons our dogs landed in our laps. For the most part, their history was an unknown.
The appeal of a young one was very strong. As the breeder handed over our puppy into my arms, the grief of the past few months was wiped out. This young one promised love and hope and a new possibility. She was the last to be chosen from the litter. Who knows why. Perhaps her markings weren’t as pronounced or her coloring not quite to everyone’s liking. For me, her eyes said it all. She belonged to us.
I spent an hour with the breeder and my respect grew with each passing minute. She cared deeply for these animals. There was no real profit for her. She got back what she put in. She was checking me out just like I was checking her out. And all those dogs in her care were testament to a caring owner. They were loving, joyful and very beautiful, curling in my lap, telling me it would be okay.
So our next journey involves a young puppy who promises new adventures and perspectives. We grieve the loss of those creatures who blessed our lives countless times with stories that will never stop. Katie – yes, that is her name – will bring us new stories, intertwined with the animals still with us. As the breeder said, Katie will rule the roost. What a blessing to have this brood. Merlin’s Garden will not be the same. So be it!