Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Starting Over - Again

I think losing a dog you have raised from puppyhood is perhaps one of the toughest life experiences ever, and one I certainly would like to avoid at all costs.  However, when you are in the rescuing dogs "business" as I seem to find myself time after time over the past 20+ years, you tell yourself it is just part of the process.  However, this past spring, when I lost my all-time favorite malamute mix Kodi after raising him from a pup, I thought my heart was broken into pieces and I would never recover.  Never mind that I had another beautiful 7-year-old malamute who was now lonesome and missing her forever pal; never mind that my motto has always been that one dog leaves so another can come into my life.  After we had to put Kodi down after a long battle with Addison's disease and cancer that spanned 5 years discovered at 5 years of age, I was determined/rooted to the fact that I simply could not go out on a limb and love another dog again.  No way, no how....just not going to do it and open up that whole can of worms ever again.  I talked myself into it or at least I thought I had.  My thoughts were that I'm no spring chicken, I don't need the aggravation; at least after a time, Bob and I would just have each other; we can go where we want, do what we want, no worries!!  How much simpler our life would be!

Well, probably weeks went by with the new and improved attitude (and the constant crying every day because I missed Kodi so).  I was thinking I would get used to it; surely Denaya would get used to it - after all she is "just" a dog.  Malamutes bond to people as well as dogs so it was not like we were abandoning her or something!  Time is a marvelous thing I guess because one day I had moved from "no way, no how, never again" to "maybe another rescued dog would not be such a bad idea".  "Just another dog that needs a good home and some love....but this time, I'm SO not getting attached!  It just needs to be a companion for Denaya!"  Hmmm...

Then a friend of mine with malamute puppies that I had let know of Kodi's passing tagged me via email regarding a litter of puppies with PICTURES~!  Oh, I so did not need this!  I could have just ignored the pics; I did not have to look.  I did not have to start to think along these lines ever again!  Hadn't I said that enough was enough and no more heartbreak?  It did not help (much) that Denaya was now becoming attached to us like glue whereas before we lost Kodi, she was always extremely independent and pretty much ruled the roost!  Now she was displaying all kinds of dependent behaviors and if I didn't know better, I could have sworn she was lonesome.  After much debate (Denaya being herself a rescued/abused dog who had taken years to heal), the thought of bringing another abused or damaged dog into the mix did not particularly appeal so that option went out the door.  The pictures of the litter kept beckoning to me until finally I just could not get away from the thought that we HAD to start over and perhaps a puppy was the only option.  For Denaya's sake of course!  I owed it to my dogs to carry on the tradition and "save" another dog. 

The mind is a tricky business.  We can about convince ourselves of just about anything I think.  I went into getting another puppy as the "smartest" thing to do under our given circumstances, and it was simply the "right" thing to do.  Not that I WANTED another puppy or that I thought I could fall for another dog - oh no...that was not part of this girl's plan!  Too bad I actually had to MEET my new little Griffin; too bad I had to instantly fall in LOVE with little Griffin.  I never stood a chance!!  One look at his big brown eyes and one day in the presence of his gentle personality and his gift for just simply being adorable and funny, and I was lost, beyond hope.  The doors of my heart that I had decided would remain firmly closed not only opened - I think they blew themselves off the hinges.  If ever there was a short, sharp tumble into love this would be it!  I fell hopelessly and endlessly in love with this little goofy puppy and somehow I forgot to mourn the loss of one of the most wonderful, gentlest dogs in the world simply because I had his very likeness bound into my life as if to say he'd been searching for me all along! 

What a gift an animal is but what an extra special gift a puppy is.  No matter that I'd forgotten all the work that goes into the raising and nurturing; how easily we do forget.  But when all is said and done, much like raising children, there is so much sheer happiness at the end of the day that you receive from these little bundles of joy and energy, the priceless memories; you cannot but think you are rich beyond measure.  I had forgotten what it was like to simply laugh out loud long and hard at nothing but silly puppy antics.  I had forgotten what it felt like to have someone so overjoyed to see you that all they can do is jump up and down or rush into your arms to kiss your face over and over and nibble your ear (Bob tries but it just isn't quite the same sometimes).  It is a wonderful thing to discover that at ANY age, we are capable of having a new "leash" on life and starting over and I look forward to recounting all the new escapades in our life with Griffin.  Over the years, I have been most privileged to have some of the best dogs in the whole world and their stories will follow.

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