After our pal, Hunter, an 11 year old pure bred golden retriever died, my wife and I decided to live for a time without a dog as part of our family. This we decided after over 25 years with 3 different golden’s as a part of our lives.

Our town home was larger without Hunter. Emptier. Sad and lonelier.

The resolve to live dogless lasted but 3 weeks when both of us independently began to consider what kind of dog would be nice to welcome into our home. These thoughts alternated with the dull ache of missing our pal. Whenever we came in through the garage we expected to be greeted in the kitchen by our old boy with a wagging tail and a mouth full of stuffed bear. Often I thought I heard him breathing slow and deep nestled against the couch at my feet. At other times I called out, “Hunter, it’s time to go outside.”

Secretly, Judie, my partner, began to scour Craig’s List for people offering dogs. While she was doing this we talked several times a day about what kind of dog we’d like. Both of us wanted a smaller pal this time, a dog that we might be able to pick up and snuggle with. After several discussions, we decided that a Golden Doodle would be perfect: smaller, furrier with a disposition that would be a cross of the two and the intelligence of both. So it goes.

Two days after this decision, Judie found a Golden Doodle on put on Craig’s List by a rescue outfit in a small city in the valley about three and a half hours away. Judie arranged for us to go down south early the next morning to pick up our new, male Golden Doodle puppy who was around 6 months old.

When we arrived, we found a scraggly, skinny, frightened puppy who shied away from contact with us. He had been picked up on the streets of Visalia in the San Joaquin Valley. Judie at first wanted to take a pass but I thought that he’d come around if we took him home with us. I just knew living with us that he’d come out of his shell. Eventually, Judie, taken with the pups yellow wolfish eyes and furry face, agreed with me. When she picked him up and held him-he was about 25 pounds of bone and fur-he snuggled against her chest as if looking for love and protection. She, as I, was smitten.

On our way home, Dylan, yes that’s the name we decided on naming him after the great Irish poet Dylan Thomas, began to cough; I mean cough a lot. Disturbing.

When we got back to our home, Dylan walked into the house with us, snooped around the living room before entering our bedroom where he crawled under the bed and went fast to sleep. He spent the rest of the day there hiding, protected and wary.

We took Dylan the next morning to the Vet who confirmed that our new pal not only suffered from kennel cough, but also had a few bugs in his intestines that were causing him to be struck several times a day with the Kentucky Quick Step. We gave him pills, powders, special food and lots of love, and we worried endlessly as he didn’t want to eat much and wasn’t getting better. But after 6 weeks of our constant, steady care, his cough disappeared and a few days later the Quick Steps faded away as well. Dylan was healthy!

Our new pal is a puppy maniac! In the mornings and then again around bed time, he runs around the house, jumping from couch to chair to couch again,gleefully tearing around the house, sliding on the wood floors into walls jumping onto our bed and running in tight little doggly circles on the mattress before collapsing like a wet noodle. At other times, Dylan simply lies on his back across my chest with his furry feet in the air. He can snuggle like that with us for an hour at a time.

We took him up to Chico where our 20 year old son, Russ, is in college. He hung out with our son and his 3 room mates and they too were smitten. Last week Russ came home for the weekend and left on Sunday taking Dylan back to Chico with him for the next week. He has the time of his life up there as all the guys and their girlfriends love him, and the vie with each other to see who will get to play with and pet him. Needless to say, after a period of separation anxiety with us, Dylan is now secure in the knowledge that he’s found a home loving home that will take care of him.

He’s so important to us. We love to play and snuggle with him several times a day, and when we do, each of us feels calmer and less stressed. Which in a household where I’m on disability because of my exotic disease, and my wife who’s been in marketing for years is unemployed, in a house where we are spending our life’s savings to keep us going and our son in school, and in a house where anxiety and dread are regular visitors, a loving, playful puppy is a delicious antidote to galloping stress.

To anyone who lives with harrowing pain every day, or who suffers from a chronic disease, I highly recommend a fury four legged creature of boundless acceptance, joy and loyalty. Reach out if you can, and adopt a perfectly wonderful companion, a friend for life.

About left0089

Columnist at American News Report. Pain care activist. Poet, memoirist.
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