Strange as I usually do not get a lot of visitors of the two-legged kind….
My neighbor and his 8 month old puppy, Gus, were standing there when I opened the door. He just been called into work for the day for an emergency. With his wife away, they didn’t want to leave Gus alone for the entire day.
I appreciated the hound-dog look on both faces. Let’s be realistic though – hangouts with a puppy? Yes please.
Gus is a pretty lucky duck dog. He has two wonderful owners who truly appreciate him. They experienced a similar loss to us, with their 3 year old Chocolate lab early last year. They took the time they needed, and then happily brought rescue puppy Gus into their lives last fall. Gus’s feline brother from another mama. “Beau” is featured below. He adores dogs, so much that he ensures to go visit them all in our neighborhood – whether they reciprocate his love or not.
Hang-outs with Gus reminded me why puppies are fantastic – once again.
They inject an air of goofy happiness that never ceases to amaze me. They also help reinforce important life lessons like…
My fiance and I took another visit to the now two week old Bernese Mountain dog puppies. It was his first time returning since we went to meet and discuss a home for our Newton, 3 years prior. We once again were received with face licks, body wiggles and Berner smiles (From the dogs, not the breeder – haha). After an little while chatting with one of the breeders and snuggling with the 2 week old puppies, we went to a friends’ surprise birthday party.
My mind however lingered on the Berners. I know there’s a long wait list for puppies, so when we arrived home we talked. We talked about our readiness, our commitment, our finances, our time, and of course Newton. As you can imagine, I talked the most. What came out of our chat was that we believe we’ll be ready to welcome our arms up after our big three week trip to Europe in July.
While Newton still has my heart, I think I’m able to share what bits are left. Waiting for a bit longer will also give me more time to work on what I need to.
I need some more time just to honor and remember Newton. It may sound strange, but I feel as if I’m giving him a disservice if I stop what I’m doing now. Also, let’s be serious I could not have a new puppy or dog and leave for 3 weeks. Thank you to my Mr. for making me realize this. There is just NO WAY. Even though we’d have fantastic support, I’d constantly be thinking of everything I was missing out on! If it turns out to be a rescue or a puppy, we need to reintroduce consistency. Leaving for 3 – 4 weeks is exactly the opposite!
I also took my Mr. to the SPCA with me yesterday. He met my new buddy Rusty. Rusty is super sweet, but very timid to strangers and anything new. He’s like the 80 year old woman next door that peeks out from behind her curtains, curious about what’s going on but wants his door closed for protection against life. We’ve developed a special relationship – in the dog runs, he runs into my arms full speed and turns last minute and collapses in them. Always giving me face licks in the process. I really need to work with him on the full speed ahead tactic 🙂 We worked with him meeting my Mr. (new people!), going past with his tail high and wagging, and ears up, rewarding him the entire time. He also went to meet my Mr. once free in the training room all by himself, sniffing his leg and hand, allowing my Mr. to even reward a head pat or two. What a good boy!
Then there’s Des. You’ve met Des before, she puts me through my paces every single freaking time. Walking her is a workout. I can’t even try and manage her until she has run out her energy. We take her to a dog run, play “catch the snowball” and run the excitement out of her. Then we get to work on her resource guarding. Des is like the grouchy old man of my little pack that likes HER things. “Silly youngsters”, I can imagine her saying, “Keep your paws off my stuff!”. She has been letting me slowing get closer to her as she holds her tennis ball. Today she looked at me while holding her tennis ball with her tail wagging, I rewarded her with a butt scratch. She dropped the tennis ball at my feet. PROGRESS!!
So we came home and took one more step forward – We filled out the applications for both the SPCA and the breeder. We want to be ready in case we find the right rescue or the right puppy or dog for our family after our trip. We wanted to get started early as I know some people who have been waiting a year or two for one of their Berner puppies. There are a few reasons for this, first of all, they do not churn out puppies like a puppy mill. Secondly, they only breed dogs that pass their pen/hip score clearances and eye exams. This helps weed out early hip/elbow displaysia and the eye/health issues that Berners are prone to. We’re going to fill out another form for the Bernese Rescue Society of Canada after our trip.
I’ve discovered three things throughout this process so far.
1. I never want to be just a single dog family again. Ideally I’d like to welcome our arms in July/August to a new furry friend, then keep our eyes and ears open shortly after for another.
2. Filling out both forms was both exciting and gut wrenching *sigh*.
3. Our retirement plan will be to Foster dogs 🙂 Long term planning at it’s finest, we’ll see – maybe we’ll be ready before!
There was a guilt that I felt about moving on to another dog that I knew would be there, but still did not feel comfortable. Newton will forever be a part of me, this I know. I’ve said this once, but I believed he was the daily food for my soul. Sounds dramatic, but true nonetheless. I am trying to consider this next step a tribute to him. A testament to him, making us better owners and dog lovers. Newt would want us to be happy, living life to it’s fullest as he did. Our lives are the happiest and richest when we have a furry friend by our side. Until July, we’ll keep taking it day by day, week by week, month by month.
I did it, I crossed another hurdle. See, I’ve been avoiding places that remind me exclusively of Newton. You know the places I mean – the places I went only because of him.
As some of you have been following, my grieving process has been a roller coaster of emotions. I hope I’ll stay on this positive high for a while this time.
To give you a bit of back story, we bought Newton from amazing co-breeders. One of them lived close to us in Moncton, the other 2 hrs away in Saint John. The last time I had been to visit her partner in Saint John, it was so she could meet and interview us for our new puppy (almost 3 years ago). I was close by for work, went out on a limb, called her up to let her know I was in the neighborhood. She invited me and I went.
The only comparison I can make is it was like “pulling off the band aid”. I was so nervous driving there, so different from how I felt the first time driving up the driveway with my fiance. Unsure, with different nerves, and a different perspective.
All that changed when I walked in and was instantly greeted with tailwags and face licks – by four beautiful Bernese.
I had met most of these dogs before. What I love about dogs, and particularly Bernese in general, is their sensitivity to human emotions. The dogs did not leave my side. I think they sensed how much I loved and appreciated them all, most likely recognizing that I needed them near. What I had thought was going to be a 15 min visit just to pop in, chat about fall litters and give updates, turned into a 3 + hour visit. We sat there, two crazy dog ladies, discussing our love for the breed, how each one was doing and how we both were doing.
I sat there completely covered in long black Berner hair, with two attempting to sit on my lap. I know had a ridiculous crazy smile plastered all over my face. This was the happiest I’ve been in a while.
Funny facts about these lovebugs – they all have zero sense of how large they actually are. I’m convinced they all think they’re Chihuahua size.
Halfway into our visit, she asked me to wash my hands and took me into the back room, I wasn’t sure what to expect. She said she had something that would instantly make me feel better. She was right.
One of her most lovable Bernese, Ivana, had just had puppies 5 days before. Refer to my post “Puppy Love” if you need a reminder of my love of puppies. BERNER PUPPIES?? Even better.
I remembered Ivana from my visit almost 3 years before. This is her second litter, and she makes such a wonderful mother. She did not mind me snuggling with one of her young pups in the least.
My heart melted. I thought constantly of Newton, but could I be sad while looking down at this little furry peanut? This new 1 lb puppy could not hear, could not see, couldn’t use the washroom by itself or even regulate it’s body temperature yet.
During the next hour I learned how amazing a mother’s natural instinct is. Ivana (mom) taught me how to burp one of her pups after feeding. The breeder showed me how Ivana regulates their body temperature, stimulates them to use the washroom and cares for each and every one of them. She talked about the next steps, what she’s looking for in a family for each one of them, and the vet visits that were coming up way too fast.
I then learned that this little girl I was holding was most likely going to a wonderful family in my hometown of Nova Scotia. How amazing is that!! I might see her again.
As I came home and reflected on this day, I realized I had been scared to go visit them. Now I realize how much joy they brought me. Newton would have loved these visits. I promised in my letter that I would visit his friends often and send his affection their way. I realize that through living up to this promise, it’s helped me take yet another step. I thought seeing other Bernese would sadden me, remind me of what I didn’t have anymore.
I realize now, that was silly of me. Of course these visits don’t make me sad. Newton loved them all. How could I be sad about that?
I needed this visit to help gain perspective. I’m so happy that I “pulled off the band-aid” and did it. What I thought was going to be just a step, turned into a wonderful visit with old friends – both human and canine. It reminded me of the simple things in life, and what my fiance wrote about shortly after we lost Newton,
“What I realized is this. Pets, Animals, Dogs, Newton… are generally simple beings. They eat, sleep, play… and love. You. In world that is totally messed up; the desire to acquire; be promoted; to be successful; our pets make life so very simple. Its easy to love them, to humanize them. In grand scheme of things, they dont care how much money you make or what your title is. They just want to be around you, and you want to be around them.”
– kudos to my fiance
Great words to live by. As I go through my own process of grieving, I’m thankfully reminded by Newton’s memories & other furry friends to stop and enjoy simple pleasures. Quit complicating the issues at hand, enjoy great things, stop dwelling on the bad. I’m thankful I’ve included many dogs in my life so they can remind me of this. In this case, it was taking the time to enjoy snuggling puppies and furry mommas alike. Appreciating a helpless newborn, the simplicity of what life can be like. Eat, Drink, Sleep, Play and Love, what amazing things we can learn from our canine friends. I celebrate that Newton helped form me into the dog crazy that I am, encouraging me to pick up the phone and make the call, which led to this wonderful visit.