I know why everyone tells you to get another dog when you lose one. It’s not a replacement. It’s not anything like a replacement. It’s that your heart has all this love it’s been giving and getting every day and when the dog you love and who loves you goes away, your heart just can’t keep beating without that flow, that cascade of love in and out. We are a two-dog family. That’s it. I fear losing our first buddy, Truffle, now in a way I didn’t understand before. My heart stops every time I open the door until I see him prancing to the door to say hello, his little tail ticking from side to side. And I love him endlessly. But we are a two-dog family and when our good girl left us, we were incomplete.
I won’t tell the whole horrible story of the inhuman woman from the sled dog rescue that rejected us and blamed us for our own dog’s death because the pain that night was maybe worse even than anything that came before it. I will tell you though, of something beautiful that came of it. I laid out my shredded heart to my friends online in hope that they could help me put it back together, and they did, coming through with fury and anger at the woman, and love and support for us, and more. One friend, a farmer we’ve known for some years, told me about her puppies. Her own good girl had escaped one night in early spring and came home with a surprise: she was bearing a litter of puppies. One month to the day before we lost Alba, they came, a dozen of them.”I would love for you to have one of her puppies,” our friend said that horrible night. And knowing full well what would happen if we went “to look,” we did just that the next day. It was over as soon as I stepped into the pen and all those sweet, warm, furry, wriggly little puppies started to tumble over my feet. I sat down in the dirt and let them crawl over me, licking and nibbling and pawing and refilling my heart that had been pummeled down to nothing. I picked up one who seemed solemn and soulful and handed him to Brian. He looked up at Brian and his tail began to wag. We had a new dog.
We brought Cassius “Cash” Thunderpaws home that Friday night, after a ridiculous supply run to the pet store, and looked at him and each other and grinned like fools, like we hadn’t even dreamed of doing since the bottom had fallen out of our world.
He’s not our good girl. He’s not a replacement. He’s 9 pounds — 15 now — of fast growing Great Pyrenees/German Shepherd puppy love who burrows his head against our chests when we carry him up and down the stairs and enchants us with his green puppy dog eyes. He trusts us and looks to us to care for him and nibbles too hard and already sometimes does what he’s told, to our utter delight, and sometimes goes pee on the floor, which is our own fault for not knowing his signals. We’ve had him 10 days and we know what he loves (brushing, a puzzle feeder, rolling in the grass, his crate) and what he fears (stairs, rain, not much else that we can see). We already can’t imagine life without him.
And on his third night home I had the dream I’d longed for. I saw Alba. She was across a park from me, quite far, and I knew she was dying. She was lying down, but raised her head when she saw me, and got up and ran across the grass to me. I ran too, and when I got to her I got to feel her fur, put my hands on her sweet face, look her in the eyes, and tell her she was my good girl. I was sobbing, but this was the good-bye I didn’t get to have, the good-bye I so desperately needed. Then a puppy’s plaintive cry woke me up and she was gone. But he was here.