As you read this, I am on my way from Vermont to Virginia, driving 10 hours to Virginia Beach, where an 8-month-old Blue (dark gray) Weimaraner pooch named Maisie is waiting for me. It’s thrilling, unexpected, and bittersweet — until the moment I hold her in my arms and then it will be All Good.
As those of us know who have formed our extended canine families through adoption, timing is everything — and pretty much out of your direct control! If what seems like the “right” dog crosses your path, even if you aren’t quite sure you are ready or can handle it, you have to leave your heart open to whatever the universe presents, because there is a destiny to every dog we rescue — who often seems as though he rescues us, too. Afterwards you often kick yourself for even entertaining any doubts about opening your home and heart to that dog-of-the-moment and think, “But of course! This dog was destined to be mine. Why did I even doubt it?”
The reason I have a vacant dog bed in our home — and a hole that needs mending in our hearts right now — is because we recently experienced the devastating sudden dire illness of the youngest dog in our family, a beautiful adopted Weimaraner named Teddy, who was a month shy of his 8th birthday and in the prime of his life. He suddenly succumbed to a fast and brutal cancer that could not be stopped, even with a week of the highest level of veterinary medicine. (Please listen to the podcast of last week’s radio show DOG TALK to hear my thoughts about what happened with some cautionary suggestions for all pet owners.)
Our other two old, adopted dogs are depressed to the point of not eating — and my husband and I are in a daze of sorrow. None of us knows what to do with our sadness. To give myself something to look forward to, I contacted the two Weimaraner breeders I know and asked to be put on their waiting lists for puppies, both of whom said they were planning litters for the late summer. My husband had never owned a dog before we joined our lives, and Teddy was his first dog, his adored, shining boy — so his loss was particularly bitter. Even though my instincts are always to get a dog from a rescue, I felt my husband had earned the right to experience a puppy right from the beginning. But the Guardian Angel of Dogs in Need stepped right in — because one of the breeders who put my name on his future list, also runs the Virginia Tri-State Weimaraner Rescue. He told me that just recently an older couple had reluctantly relinquished a beautiful, super friendly, well-mannered young female because they did not have the time for her she needed. At eight months old she may not be an eight week old puppy, but will be young enough to bring joy and healing into our hearts — while we have the privilege of offering an idyllic life to a deserving dog, who has already suffered the shock of losing her first human family.
I packed the car with a big baggie of Halo Salmon kibble to introduce her right away to her new food-for-life, a jar of Liv-a-Little freeze-dried treats to reward anything good she does, and a bottle of Cloud Nine shampoo since she may need a shower with me after her stay at the rescue’s doggy daycare. My sister Holly left her Brussels Griffons, Lulu and Sprout, at home (with their Halo Small Breed Spot’s Stew meals all measured out with their babysitter), so she could accompany me on this 3-day marathon voyage to give Maisie a glorious new life after her bumpy beginnings — and to give me, my husband and our two remaining dogs the delightful distraction we need to move through our mourning so we can begin to enjoy our memories of Teddy.
He, too, was a re-homed young Weimaraner — only 7 months old when I got him because a dog trainer did an “intervention” — and convinced the mentally ill owner to give him up to me, a veteran Weim rescuer. Teddy was locked in her house, crated and un-housebroken, destroying furniture in his frustration. The trainer said she had never before seen such sadness in a dog’s eyes. I had three dogs at the time but couldn’t imagine leaving this young one in such a compromised environment — so I said yes, not sure what sort of dog I would be meeting or whether it would “upset our apple cart” at home.
Halo celebrates dogs in shelters and rescues; Freekibble.com gets Halo food into their bowls while they are waiting for their Forever Homes. It is a noble cause. No one should doubt that dogs for adoption can overcome their past to bring pure joy to their new people — and are able to shed all remnants of their miserable beginnings. Teddy was a prime example of how dogs in shelters are not “damaged” and were not discarded because they were “defective.” It is people who let dogs down, all the time. But dogs have incredible resilience and are willing to forgive and forget whatever has come before and open their hearts to their new people. Teddy never had an accident in the house, made us laugh in delight at him, and never had a day that wasn’t The Best Day Ever Isn’t Life Grand! He should have lived another eight happy, healthy years, if life was fair. Instead, Maisie will get a fresh start, and so will we. There is a circle of love between people and dogs that remains unbroken.
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