A House without a Dog is not a Home

Posted by & filed under The Puppy Diaries.

Yes, this post title is a little over-the-top. But for someone who has had pets their whole life and who just lost 3 pets this Spring/Summer, our house is missing a je-ne-sais-quoi energy. And that’s not really true. I do know the energy it is missing. It is missing the unconditional-love-of-a-dog energy.

I didn’t write a blog post about losing Max, our 17-year-old kitty. Maybe I’ll get to it someday, but his death was the icing on the cake of numbness we’ve been eating. And I’ve never liked frosting, anyway. Max was a sweet kitty and we’ve heard from a lot of people who knew him that he was a great cat. He really was. I memorialized him on Facebook, but never did get over here to do the same.

When we lost the dogs, Andy said we would wait a year before deciding on getting another one. One night I was on the phone with my brother and mentioned that timeline and Andy overheard me. That night, as we lay in bed, he told me that he wasn’t sure he wanted to wait a year. He said that he missed the dogs, missed being greeted in the driveway when he came home from work, missed having them by his side as he worked in the yard.

That was all this woman needed to hear. I went online and started looking at rescues. I found a 1 1/2 year old English Shepherd through New England Border Collie rescue, sent in an application, was approved to contact the foster. I was really hoping we could give Tanner a home, but then he chipped a tooth and things got put on hold and when I reached out again I didn’t hear back. So I decided it was time to move on.

The thing about rescue organizations is that they are very particular. Most of them don’t consider an electric fence acceptable. Despite the fact that we sit back from the road, train the dogs to the fence, have about an acre of yard and woods fenced in, are very responsible dog owners, have a vet tech in the family, work from home (me). Nope. Not enough. It’s okay, they are their dogs to place and they get to set the rules. But I like to make my own decisions of what’s best for my dogs once they are in my home and environment and adapt those rules to their personalities and propensities.

The other thing, though, is that a lot of the dogs have issues that wouldn’t have worked for our family – don’t like other dogs (had one of those and he was a stay-at-home dog and nobody else could bring their dog over), don’t like kids, don’t like cats. We are older and have no other pets now, but we spend lots of time with our kids and there are grandkids and grandpuppies and grandkitties. Still, I looked at A LOT of rescues. But none of them resonated with me or seemed like a good fit for our life right now besides Tanner.

It’s Pepper’s fault. Pepper was my first sheep dog. And, as I say all the time, she was practically perfect in every way. Except for a couple of things. She got into porcupines multiple times. And she rolled in dung and other smelly things. Especially just after a bath. I called it her perfume. But she came when I called, learned road sense, was great off-leash, and wanted to please. And I’m convinced she understood EVERY SINGLE WORD I said. Plus, if you looked into her eyes you could see her soul. And it was the sweetest of souls. I saw that in Tanner-the-rescues eyes. But I didn’t see it in any of the others.’

So, I looked up the English Shepherd breed, which I had never heard of before. And it sounded like the perfect fit for us and for where we live. Ever since the dogs died, the wildlife has had a free-for-all around here. Tunnels under the lawn, scat in the driveway and on the front walk, blackberry bushes destroyed. This place needs a farm dog! English shepherds are an all-around farm dog – guarding, herding, varmint control, lover of their family, affectionate. I dunno, sounds practically perfect in every way.

That was enough for me. I started looking for a breeder of these remarkable dogs. And I found one in New Jersey and they were expecting a litter at the end of September. So I turned in an application. And learned they were actually expecting two litters, one unplanned. And as I spoke with one of the breeders (they are a couple), everything just sounded terrific. The way they place the dogs, the way they like to keep in touch with their pups, the fact that his wife is a vet tech and recommends the same feed as my vet tech daughter. All of it. He ended the conversation saying we sounded like a wonderful home for one of their puppies.

They also have a Facebook group, which I joined. And everybody posts pictures of their pups and every person, to a fault, says their dog is the best dog they’ve ever had.

The wait has seemed like FOREVER! And I was afraid to get too excited until I knew for sure I was on the list and not the waiting list. That my application didn’t get lost. Or whatever million other thoughts were swirling around in my head. (I really do need the calming presence a dog brings!) Until I knew for sure everything was all good with our application I wasn’t sleeping well. And now the pups are born and my deposit is in, and I’m allowing myself to get excited. Except it’s still a long way out! But I’m spending it looking at dog paraphernalia (we have a lot, but will need a few things), looking at training classes and reading books, and pondering dog names. Yesterday I just washed our long 15-foot lead that was dirty from being used as a tie-out, took inventory of smaller collars, and put some items in my cart on Amazon (haven’t bought them yet because I *think* we are getting a boy because most of the puppies are boys, but I’m not 100% sure).

Just today, I went into the basement to get something from the extra freezer and stopped by the shadow boxes of our pets. I spoke with them, as I do often, and got weepy, as I do often. I miss them so much, and even though Koda and Max lived long lives and it’s not realistic to expect them to still be here, I still wish they were. And Columbus. We wouldn’t even be getting a puppy if he hadn’t left us early. This puppy will fill the dog-shaped void in our home and hearts, but it will never replace him and all the wonderful dogs we’ve had that have led up to this moment. But I do know two things. 1: This puppy will be another wonderful dog that blesses our lives. And 2: The time until we get to pick up our puppy is going to feel like an eternity!

A new chapter of The Puppy Diaries is soon to begin….


The puppy pictures I’ve seen are in the private Facebook group. But this is the breeder we are getting our puppy from, so you can picture our next doggie. Just as I am!

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