Usually, a situation like this calls for much hand-writing, contemplation, agonizing and drama. I don’t care for drama, I’ve had enough of it in my life and in the lives of the people around me.
Drama makes me almost physically ill at this point in my life and here on the blog I’ve promised to be open and honest.
No secrets, no games.
The script calls for me to grieve, recover from the death of Red and mull my next dog move. Then to make a sudden (and dramatic) announcement about it, after everyone is in suspense.
But that would be a lie, and contrived. I hate being coy.
It isn’t that I’m noble, I just have become clearer and more aware of the intentions and decisions that motivate my behavior. Maria and I have talked about getting another dog – we talk about everything that happens in our lives and on the farm – and we are both agreed.
I also talked with my big sister Jane, she knows just about everything there is to know about the emotional motivations and underpinnings around getting a dog. If you see it is a gift, she said, go for it. And I do see it as a gift.
We want a Yellow Lab puppy. A female, I think. A quiet, gentle, sweet puppy, not too outgoing, not too shy. Something in the middle.
I’ve found an excellent breeder with a pregnant dog (I just don’t like the term bitch), and if she accepts me as a fitting recipient for one of her dogs after we talk, then I’ll send her a deposit as soon as the dog has had her ultra-sound check, and we know for sure she is having babies.
Since the due date is late September, the tests should be soon.
As many of us know, many things can go wrong in canine birth, there are no guarantees and few certainties.
I have always Labs and border collies.
I love both breeds, I have always been drawn to the working breeds.
We have two wonderful dogs. Fate is a magnificent creature, disinterested in herding but eager to love up people in our therapy work. I love having Bud, the small dog experience is richer and more interesting than I imagined. I love his character and ego.
The mix of these dogs – a border collie, a Boston Terrier, and a Yellow Labrador – seems wonderful to me.
Red has left a big hole in my life, and I write about dogs and love having them, so I want to fill that hole with another great dog. I am older – 72 now – and I don’t subscribe to the idea that older people should not get dogs that might outlive them. To me, that would be a weak rationalization.
Maria is 17 years younger than I am, and I doubt a new Lab would come close to outliving her. And dogs are often happily and successfully rehomed by the millions in any case. People who love dogs should have them. No dog should ever have to languish in a no-kill crate for years.
This dog will cost a lot of money – $2,500, a big consideration – but dogs are my livelihood, I expect she will earn back her cost in one way or another.
There are few dogs cuter than yellow Lab puppies. And I will, of course, share the experience of getting her, training her, and chronicling her integration into our family.
Dogs from honest and experienced breeders have produced some of the most wonderful dogs I have known – I think of Rose and Red in particular, and Pearl. A good breeder keeps the best traits of dogs alive.
A prime consideration for me is my therapy work with dogs.
I wish to continue my hospice therapy work, and my deepening work with the elderly, especially at the Mansion. Labs can make wonderful service dogs. I will want to see five generations of paperwork showing good temperament in any dog I buy for therapy work.
Labs love working with people, and if properly bred, can have an absolutely reliable temperament. I will never have one of my dogs frightening or snapping at a dying or elderly person.
Maria and I each have veto power over any animal that comes into the farm.
If either one of says no, there is no argument. We just don’t do it.
We both have said yes to a Yellow Lab puppy, I love the way this mother looks, she is a beautiful dog.
We will, of course, go see the puppies and make certain it’s the right match all around.
I can start training a Lab puppy from scratch, and I believe those are the dogs that make the best therapy dogs for me and the close-in therapy work I like to do. Red was a once-in-a-lifetime dog, I won’t try to replicate him.
Fate will continue to work with me, her therapy dog training is coming along better than I imagined. But she is four years old, and there are some things I wouldn’t try to do with her – like hospice work.
She just gets a bit too excited for hospice work, she is great for the Mansion.
The armies of the righteous online are already displeased with my mention of even thinking about a purebred bought dog as opposed to a rescue like Bud or Frieda or Izzy. I’m told there is only one right way to get a dog, and that is to rescue one.
Almost anyone who really knows dogs or cares about them knows this is bullshit. People tell me they are disappointed in me. I tell them to get lost.
They are obnoxious, not persuasive, and they give animal rescue a bad name, which seems somewhat self-defeating.
There are lots of ways to get a good dog, and the best is to get one you want and love and think of as a blessed gift.
Those of you have followed my blog know there are two things that make me need to work on my patience and gentleness. People who tell me what to write, and people who tell me how to get a dog.
I consider this the height of arrogance and ignorance.
I’ve written a dozen books about dogs, and gotten them in many different ways – rescue, shelter, breeder. I don’t need advice about how to do it.
Nobody who tells me there is one way to get a dog is my friend or someone who deserves to be listened to.
The rescue people I respect – and there are many – would never tell me to get any dog but one that I wanted, in whatever way I wanted.
I’ll get this dog thoughtfully and carefully, and I’ll share the process. I am excited about this, I think getting the puppy will be good for me and for Maria, and I believe it is also an honor to Red, a dog I loved so much I want to do it again.
Stay tuned. This puppy, if it works out, will not come home until November. Updates to come.