I gained a new writing partner on Saturday.
She has trouble staying awake long enough to listen to what I am reciting, but I guess I can cut her some slack, being that she is only 9 weeks old. A white and caramel body rolled up in a ball, sleeping, in my lap. I can barely feel her weight, but there is plenty of warmth resonating from this 2 ½ lb sweetheart.
While DW and I were processing Chelsea’s death, I had started doing research on some of our possible dog options. Small, at least for me, was definitely part of the equation. On the short list were: West Highland Terrier (Westies), pure-bred Poodle or almost any Poodle mix, and Maltese
Researching dogs is cumbersome. Every dog “expert” says that their breed is the best with children, even though the next “expert” told me the exact opposite of what I had just been told. It was exhausting, plus I felt an enormous amount of angst about picking our next family member after it had been such a debate. What if I picked wrong and everyone regretted getting another dog? What if this dog didn’t bond with the kids or worse yet, with DW?
I remembered meeting the owners of Pawsitively Spoiled while picking up auction donations last year. This is a full-service dog salon and boutique. The owner’s, Jim and Leonie, have three adorable Yorkies of their own, but have a genuine love for all breeds. I also had a vague recollection of them being a “pet finding” service, specializing in small breed dogs. It was worth a shot. Since this wasn’t a pet store or a breeder it made sense that finally I could get a somewhat unbiased opinion of options.
It was an elegantly lit afternoon – the sun cascaded across the sidewalk, shadows rippling over the corners of vibrantly filled window boxes in front of all the downtown store fronts. Fake red fire hydrants flanked the door of Pawsitively Spoiled. Inside could be heard the pitter-patter of padded feet playing on the linoleum and playful barks of four-footed friends. Apparently Ms. Leonie and Jim also had a doggy day-care and it was obviously recess time. A half-dozen toy dogs raced in circles behind the counter, dashing in and out of an open play-pen like enclosure. One darling was sleeping in the basket of a stroller, ignoring the small raucous.
Immediately Jim’s warm smile welcomed my visit, followed by an incredibly comfortable conversation. Leonie joined in the conversation, answering questions I hadn’t even thought to ask.
“Why do you want a dog?” she asked.
My heart responded before my brain had a chance to process and tears started pooling.
“Because I miss my dog,” I whimpered, “She died of spleen cancer.”
Leonie gave me almost two hours of undivided attention. I felt a connection to her, a feeling of comfort and friendship. Some of the empty spaces of my spirit left gaping open by Chelsea’s death started to feel smaller. Leonie understood we needed a family member, not a pet. By the end of the afternoon, I had come to the conclusion that a Maltese Shih Tzu mix was the best choice for my family. Leonie and Jim started looking through their list of private breeders to see who might have puppies soon.
Timing. Life always seems to be about timing.
In my perfect vision, the fall was the time-line that I had planned. However, there was going to be a puppy available in just three short weeks. Excitement fluttered wildly through my stomach.
“How about we have the breeder bring her in for you to look at?”
“Yes! Yes!” I almost giggled.
The days dragged. After two weeks, I brought the girls in to meet Leonie and Jim. It felt as safe as family, as casual as close friends. In fact, Leonie started calling me Em. She also really listened to my children and made them feel important. The girls were introduced to all of the dogs in daycare, loved on a couple of adorable Shih Tzu’s that are currently waiting for good homes, and let them play “the name game.” This game consisted of the girls calling out a possible name and Leonie looking at her clientele list to see how many had the same name.
“How about Ella?” piped up The Hare.
“Oh boy, there are at least a dozen of those.”
“Chloe…we like Chloe!” exclaimed The Tortoise.
“So do a lot of other people, there’s like 15 at least!”
This went on for almost half an hour. That afternoon it became abundantly clear that we had already chosen this puppy before we had even met her.
“Do you think she is going to fall in love with us as quickly as we’ve already fallen in love with her?” asked The Hare.
I gave her a long hug. I knew exactly how she felt. “Of course, how could she not?”
Leonie greeted the girls, her smile warm like summer air. She was as excited as we were, handing a snuggly wrapped, sleepy 8-week-old puppy into my arms. I buried my face into the back of her soft neck, filling my senses with the sweet smell of new life. Tiny eyes opened widely as she started kissing my face. Paws frantically batting my cheeks.
I was in love.
Of course the girls were impatiently waiting for their turn, arms aching to be filled with their new little buddy. Jim came out to see all the joy.
“Well, was it worth the wait girls?” he asked.
“Absolutely!” they sang in unison.
“Did you decide on a name?”
The Tortoise and Hare looked at each other in a panic. We actually had not decided on a name. It was more difficult than I had anticipated getting all of us to agree.
Once again, Jim pulled up the clientele list, and the girls started the name game. They were determined to find a name that would be unique to our puppy, a name that would be different from the rest of the list.
“Charlotte or Charlie?”
This went on for almost 20 minutes until The Hare made an observation.
“You know mom,” she said matter-of-factly, “Her face is very round and mostly white like the moon.”
“Yep – it sure is.”
“And one of our favorite characters from Harry Potter is Luna Lovegood you know,” added The Tortoise.
She is the only Luna presently on the clientele list.