When our dog Chappy died last summer, I swore to TJ, my extended family, and anyone else that would listen that I would never again sign myself up for the pain of losing a family pet. I had been down that road too many times and it wasn’t a road that I wanted to travel again. Ever.
For many months I was mired in the belief that Chappy’s shocking death outweighed the joy of the many years of his life. His death dragged me down in ways that seemed insurmountable. The day he died started what I now refer to as “The Year of Suck.” It’s not that there weren’t incredibly happy and wonderful times, but it all sort of….sucked….without our family dog there. And the knowledge that a life so kindly lived didn’t ensure an equally kind death was a concept we struggled to understand ourselves, much less explain to our children.
About five months after Chappy died TJ asked me if I felt ready to talk about getting another dog. He started looking at rescue pups and german shepherds. I felt a twinge of interest but it was always overwhelmed by guilt. But then the boys joined in and started asking for a dog too, and their need for something to love was so clear, their need to move on so apparent. They needed to replace sadness with joy, and seeing that I realized that we all did.
It was only then that I started to admit to myself that the person who most needed a dog in the house was me. I was the one who most felt the loss of a companion, who most acutely felt my joy had been stolen, who had oodles of baby love left to give and only to rapidly growing boys to give it to. TJ and the boys needed a dog, but I needed a puppy.
It took eight months but the puppy finally is here. During that waiting period I reached a frantic, fever pitch for a puppy. I was puppy obsessed. You would have thought I was the six year old in the family, counting down the days for the skunky puppy breath, the Frito toes, the wiggly belly, the dreaded puppy teeth, and the puppy tail that wags in the wrong direction.
His name is Zeus – a compromise from other proposed names like Bonecrusher and Moonshine (the joys of living in an all male household). It’s a big name for a little wiggle worm, but we can already see how he’s going to grow into the name. I shamelessly cradle him like a baby. SHAMELESSLY. We work on his come, down, sit, and stay with relish. I find myself just staring at him sometimes, and I’ll realize with a start that I haven’t thought about Chappy in a day, or maybe even two. But what I realize is, I haven’t forgotten Chappy, it’s more like I was half way through making a mix tape, and now there are a bunch of new songs I want to add. Chappy, and Rufus, and Tigger, and Tucket and all the previous pets are the strong healthy roots; Zeus is the new leaves reaching for the sun. (And speaking of leaves….can you even imagine being a puppy when the leaves are falling? SO.MUCH.FUN.)
Zeus has already worked a Friday night in the store, and he’ll be back for many more shifts. His personality is perfect for a shop dog – he’s interested, but he’s also happy to tune it all out and take a nap. He has a sweetness and a joy for life – truly just a happiness – that is undeniable. He also really wishes the cat would wrestle with him. He’s a good puppy, and with a little luck and training he’ll be a good dog. A dog we are all so happy to have.
Welcome to the family, Zeus Douglas. Thank you for ending our Year of Suck, and for reminding us to take a chance on love.
(Although Zeus is not working tonight, the also adorable Chas will be at UGSE pouring amazing wines from Eastern Europe. And don’t forget that the fantastic Baron Ziegler of Banshee Wines will be at UGSE next Tuesday night from 5:30 to 8! He’s coming to UG as a thank you for our customers’ support of Banshee, and he will be pouring some special treats as well as my favorite, Mordecai.)