So he’s home.
I thought I would need more time to recover from Reilly’s passing, and I still miss him horribly, but it’s hard to be sad when you stand at your kitchen counter typing and there is a brand new little baby licking your toes.
When I talked to his breeder, I expected to have to get on a waiting list. She ended up with two more puppies than she’d planned for this summer and hadn’t been able to find forever homes for them all at the time that we’d spoken. In other words, I got lucky. If I had waited a couple more weeks to contact her, she would have found perfect homes for all the puppies and I would have been out of luck. Maybe it was fate.
I always said that I would never just pick right up and get another dog, but the opportunity presented itself. I saw her dogs and thought they were beautiful, even though she frequently calls them “ugly”. I loved that she focused on breeding for temperament and health in a breed that is so popular that it is plagued with genetic disorders. I also loved that she told me no when I pushed a bit on an older dog she had available to place. She knew I wasn’t ready for a dog like her and I knew I wasn’t ready for a dog like her, but I pushed her to find out what kind of a gal she really was.
She was exactly what I hoped. She was a reputable breeder who didn’t care if it took her forever to find the right place to place her dogs. She would be their forever home if necessary, and that’s why I asked to meet her and her dogs.
The parents of the litter we were interested in were not the parents of the litter we ended up purchasing a puppy from. We were gently guided toward a litter of all chocolates. I had told her that color didn’t matter, but I will always secretly have a soft spot for a black Lab, my husband feels the same of yellows, so chocolate is new on us completely. Once we met the parents of this litter though, we were sold. Dad is a massive dog, as he should be. He’s built like a tank and follows people around asking for attention by gently pressing his head against their knee. He was just everything that my husband and I love about Labrador Retrievers. Sweet, loving, adoring of his owner and best of all, a complete goofball. This, in spite of the fact that he’s a dual champion and holds so many other titles I can’t remember them all.
Mom was just as wonderful as dad, but when she ran up to me, with no idea who I was and instantly sat down, gave me the doggy smile and waited for me to scratch her chin, I knew she was a good girl. The best part though was when I knelt down to play with the puppies, she walked up to me and started licking my face.
These two dogs were everything that my husband and I ever wanted in a dog. They were everything we could have possibly dreamed, so I talked to the lady who’d bred them and I explained where I was living and she smiled and said, “I’ve got another litter coming this fall and I’m planning more in the spring, so understand that I know that it’s no loss for me if you decided you weren’t ready to get a puppy today. I’d just put you on a waiting list and we’d go on about life. But I really think you’re ready.”
Her puppy contract proved that. No matter what happens, even if we get shipped off to Tokyo and can’t take him with us, she will take him back, for the rest of his life. It doesn’t matter how old he is, or how ugly… none of that is relevant. He even came with a warranty, so if he breaks, I can send him back.. but I’m not sure how one gives up their dog if he’s got health problems.
So flash forward a month later… and here I am with the most adorable puppy in the entire world chewing on my toes while I make a big dramatic fuss of saying “Ow!”
He is wonderful. He’s very bright and a little bit goofy. He figured out where the food dispensary was and goes there and paws at it when he’s hungry…. which is.. most of the time. He has been through two nights without having an accident in the puppy pen and he is just the most healing spirit. I think we needed him. The last two days have seen my family run around happier than we have been since our Reilly passed away. We all get caught up in the spectacle of watching him sleep. The cute factor is just too significant to ignore.
He is perfect in every way, except for the chewing on my toes part.
No… even including the chewing on the toes.
I will adopt another shelter dog again some day, but right now, this was the right thing to do. I know that Mugen will be a healthy, happy dog because he is with the right family and is in the right place. The shelters couldn’t offer me that kind of security, especially not our local ones that are thick with dogs from puppy mills. I won’t buy dogs from pet stores because they come from puppy mills. Puppy mill dogs are sick and are usually… completely insane. Why would I adopt a shelter dog that came from a puppy mill?
I just can’t do it. I need to know that he will be healthy and be happy and be with me for 10-15 years… and maybe 15 years is asking too much of a Lab, but I don’t care, I’ll be here for whatever time I can get.
By the way, Mugen’s breeder was right. I was ready, and I am. I have never had more patience with a dog in my time, I have never been more willing and ready to train and to be trained. I think I am in the best possible place for raising a puppy right now… and you have no idea how much it fills my heart to be able to do it.
As I finish writing this, it is 7:15 in the morning on a Saturday… and I’ve been up for two hours, and I’ve been loving every second of it. And finally, Mugen has passed out on top of my foot. Now, I can go take a shower.