When we put down our nearly 16-year-old yellow lab, Willy, nine years ago, I said we’d never get another dog. He was the dog the three kids grew up with. The dog that went camping, hiking, and swam in the lake. The dog that ate the food passed under the table that the kids didn’t, like swordfish from my daughter. The dog that dragged an entire plate of freshly roasted chicken to the floor and ate a whole berry pie. The dog that chewed a couple library books. The dog that provided unconditional love to all who needed a cuddle.
I worked full-time teaching and a neighbor would walk the dog during the day. We got Willy in May and were heading to the Outer Banks, NC in the summer for a beach vacation. My husband and I visited a local kennel, and the owner could tell we’d never boarded a dog before.
Then I answered an ad in the local paper; someone offering to dog sit. When Mrs. Stettmeirer came to the door, she looked and sounded like Robin Williams in Mrs. Doubtfire. A retired German schoolteacher and resident of Manhattan, Mrs. S. had several friends in the area and often house-sat. A dog-lover, she missed having her own dogs. She became our regular sitter, staying with Willie in winter and summer. I’d pick her up at the train station after she’d done some food shopping. She’d wear a fur coat in winter and light jacket in summer, and always carried a small handbag. When she arrived at our house, she’d produce a large bone from her purse, give it to Willy, and he obediently followed her upstairs. My neighbor would report that Mrs. S. would sit outside and read Willy the New York Times and sing opera to him.
When Willy died, we started road biking. We travel with our bikes on vacation and also can spend a long day on the weekend on the bike. Another dog wasn’t in the cards.
Our daughter adopted a rescue dog and we’ve enjoyed taking care of him when she travels. We had the benefit of having a dog and not owning one.
Then, our son mentioned that his daughter wanted a dog and they had started looking. Yet he was ambivalent—he’s working hard establishing himself in his career and wasn’t sure he needed another “organism” as he put it to care for. His three children are young.
Suddenly, I felt the pull to get another dog. I started looking at rescue sites, focusing on labs/lab mix breeds, and adults not puppies.
Last Friday, we visited an adoption day sponsored by a nearby rescue shelter, Home for Good Dog, completely unaware how this worked. You don’t see a dog and wait a few weeks. You see a dog and you adopt.
And we found a dog. A long, thin, strong and friendly, two-year-old lab mix. A perfect companion for hiking and swimming, and reportedly great with kids and other dogs.
Over the course of the weekend, we completed the application and brought home Moses, who we renamed in honor of getting him on Passover.
He’s already enamored himself to us and family members and has met a small army of people who will help walk and dog sit.
It’s our year of the Dog.