Monday, June 16, 2014

Of Walking Sticks and Crutches, Puppies and Dogs

Last week we got a new puppy. It has been 5 months since our dear dog Captain died. Although we knew his death was imminent due to Cancer, and despite our best efforts, his loss was particularly difficult for me. If you've read any of my posts here, you may have happened upon quite a few whose focus is Captain. He taught me a lot. He brought me much Joy. He  kept me afloat. Experiencing his Cancer alongside him, and his amputation and recovery was one of my great Life challenges thus far. Making decisions for another soul is particularly hard. Especially for one who can't speak. The thing about Captain was his intention. He wanted to engage you. He wanted your attention. He wanted to make you laugh. And he did. When he left, he took those things with him. 

We've always had wonderful pets. God's gifted us that way. We've been given pets that are loving, and gentle. Pets that are funny, pets that show you Joy and pets whom others loved just as much as we did. When Captain died, I immediately contacted our breeder and discussed the possibility of a puppy. I'd automatically assumed we'd get another, just because we've always had one. And just because it had always been such a good thing for our family. For a minute there, Terry objected. He felt as if we needed more freedom now- the ability to travel at will. I was crushed. The thought of our family without a pet was something I couldn't fathom. 

Ever since I was a child I've connected with animals. I've needed them in my heart. Mostly, they were cats. If you've read any of my posts, you may know there were a few cats in my past. But not because my family were pet people- but in spite of the fact that they weren't. I'd like to think my folks saw my need to care for and connect with another at a different level,  and agreed to support that; but it might have been that they were tired and relented; with exceptions- no indoor pets. And I was the only one- of their seven children  who had that distinct need. Even bough I had been bitten in the face by a gas station dog who was chained to a fence. I needed to make it clear to Terry- that being with a pet was a function of my well being. I bemoaned this somewhat when I spoke to our vet of his death- I told her ashamedly that Captain had been my crutch- but she said, not crutch- walking stick. An important  distinction. 

So now we have a puppy. But the thing is, as I learned when we got Spencer, and and  learned when we got Captain, this dog isn't Captain, and this Dog isn't Spencer, and this dog isn't Marlin. It's a different Dog. It's a dog who's only job is to be himself, and to show me  "himself."  I've made the mistake of comparing them, and my kids have pointed that out. "Mom, he's not Spencer" I loved Spencer dearly. He was quick to curl up with me when ever I sat down.  Captain wasn't the same. But Captain ended up to be Captain; the dog who curled up behind the bend in my legs each night, the dog who kissed me incessantly every day without fail- the dog who did things specifically to make me laugh-The Dog whom I felt was God making himself known to me- reminding me of one of the places he resides. Dog spelled backward is clearly God. Captain had given me many blogposts. Stories. Not just about his every day antics, although they were entertaining enough- but metaphors and analogies- reassurance and comfort for whatever I was challenged by at any given moment. He gave me answers through his behavior as we hiked along; wherever and whatever we were doing- he had something of depth to convey. He was my pocket monk. 

This puppy clearly isn't Captain. At least not in this puppy stage-he is relentless and willful and attempts to eat everything in site: mulch, grass, flowers plants, leaves, and anything he can pick up. He isn't afraid of anything. He is pensive only for the shortest moment, and then walks right through. He barks incessantly at new dogs he meets, and when my brother-in-law's dogs growl at him, he doesn't heed their warning. When I open the laundry room door, he hightails it straight to the cat's litterbox and gets himself a treat. "No"apparently means step right up-and have another! I called the Breeder on day two, concerned that there was something terribly wrong. It wasn't met with much help, except the remark that we must be doing something wrong! Not feeding him enough, not giving him enough exercise....  No one in my family seemed as concerned as I. But I guess they are smarter than I. I guess they are expecting him to grow out of these things. Funny, I don't remember Captain having any challenging behaviors. But, he was a puppy once too. 

I just hope our new Puppy, Hudson will want to hike with Me. I hope he'll show me who he is. But what I'm wondering at this moment is if this puppy needs a walking stick. If perhaps I'm his walking stick. At least for now, or if we'll take turns being each other's walking sticks. 

Hikes are always easier with walking sticks.

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