To dog or not to dog

It is hard to believe that it has been less than two weeks since Baxter has been gone. When we told the kids that he had went to Doggy Heaven, one of the first questions they asked was, "When can we get a new dog?" I don't think they were being callous - there were many tears that day. But I think they thought that another dog would immediately take the sad away. I told them that we could not replace Baxter and that he was one of a kind.

The Bestie sent this to me last week and it spoke to me:

Since then I have found myself looking at Petfinder and the basset rescues close by and thinking about the perfect dog. Not a perfect dog in general, because Lord knows we would not know what to do with one of those. Our bassets have always been delightfully weird. Jake ate sheetrock and Baxter hid cheeseburgers in the landscaping. But I found myself looking for the perfect dog for our family. What age ... what size ... what gender ... even what color because I knew that I could not have another black and white basset. Jakie has been gone for eleven years and I don't think I could have another tricolor.

What is the appropriate amount of time to mourn after losing a pet? 

This feels very different than when Jake died. When Jake passed away suddenly from a brain aneurism,  I just found out two days before that I was pregnant with Big Kid. It was awful. He was our first baby and had been with us almost since the beginning of our relationship. Afterwards, it was like a big giant hole in our lives. I was very lonely and I steamrolled The Engineer into getting another dog before he was ready. He needed time to grieve for Jake Flash.

My father gave us two German Shepherd dogs who we tried to take care of for nine months but when Big Kid was born with some health issues, we knew that we could not give them the attention that they deserved. I looked into having them trained as police dogs - my childhood GSD Raphael was a cadaver dog who found four dead bodies in his career with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. A rescue actually contacted us and told us that they would find good homes for Bella and Heidi. Heidi's new owner Victor is still a friend. She had a wonderful life with him and was treated like a queen.

We waited another year before we looked into getting another basset. I wanted to make sure that M. were ready and we were out of the baby phase. This time around, we have known since April and had time to get used to the idea that Baxter would not be with us very much longer. And even before that we knew that he was getting to be an old dog. Baxter was very labor intensive in his last few months and I found myself sticking close to home and not leaving the house a lot so I could feed him and give him his multitude of medicine. I feel guilty about this but there was some relief after he was gone. I can look back and see that he was not the same dog as he was in his prime. He was still happy, but he was old and not very active.

So I admit, I am looking forward to having a dog who we can take on walks again. A dog who runs - a dog who might even play fetch! We have never had a basset who played fetch. Jake would grab the ball and take off with it, and Baxter would just look at it with detached ambivalence. There is such a need out there - so many dogs who need a home. And we have a good one to give.

I put in an application with a rescue yesterday.

I want to make sure that we are intentional and not hasty and we pick the absolute right dog for us - and that we are ready for another dog. If it were up to me, I would have about five hounds lumbering around the yard. I have always wanted to foster but we are in a busy stage of life right now with the kids, and I know that we do not have the time or resources to devote to multiple hounds, as awesome as it would be.

We shall see.

Happy Fourth of July!!

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1 comment:

  1. The right dog will find you at the right time, I have no doubt. It is so difficult to know when is the "right time." I think Rita and I are ready but Mr. Much More Patient isn't there yet. Time will tell what is right for us.


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