“Dog people” get each other. We have a common appreciation of the comfort that comes from hearing a dog’s “tap tap tap” as he walks through the house on the hardwood floors. We “dog people” understand that feeling of pure joy when the dog welcomes us back the same way regardless of whether we left to put out the trash or went to Europe for a week. We “dog people” often know the neighbor’s dog’s name without knowing their “person’s” name. We “dog people” don’t mind the family of fuzz bunnies living under the bed from the dog’s shedding each spring.
So when one of my “dog people” friends loses a beloved canine, I get it. One of my close friends lost her old and much loved companion, Coker, back the fall. Coker was a tri-color Springer Spaniel who had been my friend’s sidekick through lots of good and bad. After Coker's death, my friend and I talked about the emptiness in the house, about missing the ticking of dog toenails on the hardwoods and the sound of the doggie door swinging into the kitchen.
When my friend started thinking about getting a puppy, I was all for helping her through the transition. And it is a transition. The new dog can’t fill the first dog’s paws, you have to get a new set of paws.
After our beloved, Beaufort - a large, loving, deep gold-colored Golden Retriever - died at age 14 several years ago, my husband and I knew we could never love another dog the way we did Beaufort. After Beaufort died, we waited about six months to even consider getting another dog. We thought we wanted a rescue dog and thought we wanted another Golden. Thanks to friends, friends of friends and email connections, our Dixie the rescue dog bounded into our lives – a 90-pound swirling dervish of love, energy, white fur and pure Golden Retriever goofiness.
So when my friend told me she had gotten a puppy, a white fluff ball found on a dirt road in Pelion, I was thrilled for her. Before long, though, my friend started having concerns and doubts about whether it had been the right decision. She questioned if she had room in her heart for this new puppy, Clarence, who was so full of energy and so different from Coker.
At that point, Dixie and I knew we had to act. Dixie needed to make a direct intervention with Clarence to make sure he knew what a great “dog person” he had landed. Clarence needed to understand he had to be patient with my friend as she shifted from being the “dog person” of an elderly companion to being the “dog person” of a puppy with endless energy. Dixie composed her first “paw mail,” and she reached out to Clarence with this letter…
You are one lucky pup. From a dirt road in Pelion to a house across from a park…with a bed and a yard and a loving person.
I can identify with where you’re coming from. I had some bad years before I found my forever home (details I prefer to forget so I won’t rehash them here), but I’ve learned to trust and love my peeps. You’re lucky that you’re getting found before you have a chance to not trust or love.
Your person is a good, kind and caring dog lover. She has been the person of a much-loved dog for a long time. When Coker crossed the rainbow bridge a couple of months ago, she was devastated. She has a hole in her heart that needs to heal. While she knows you will never replace her beloved Coker, you will help her heal and grow a new place in her heart for you. There’s room for both you and Coker!
Be patient with her. She’s used to an elderly dog who had a whole different set of needs than you will have. She may get frustrated when you chew up furniture or shoes. You may wear her out with all your puppy energy. She may call you Coker by mistake, and that’s OK.
Be her friend, her protector and her playmate. Make friends with her friends’ dogs. Get her out of the house. Love her unconditionally…that’s what we dogs were put on this earth to do. You landed in a good place, you lucky dog!
I look forward to being your friend.
This photo was taken recently when Dixie and Clarence met for the first time. Clarence and my friend have settled in nicely, and she is sure there is room for both dogs in her heart.