How Much is That Doggie: Sticker Shock
Regrouping. Thanks, all for your support, encouragement and ideas. Like others who have lost their dog companions after a number of years, we are hit hard by the increase in cost to buy a pure bred yellow or golden retriever. We have had labs since Zachary, our first, who came to live on Greasy Creek with us in Wythe County in 1981. We’ve only raised our dogs from puppies, ostensibly so they will behave, but not always being as consistent in our training between a permissive and a strict “parent.”
So, today, I’ll stop by the pound, just to get in the frame of mind that would have us think outside the Labrador Retriever box we have been in for thirty years. We don’t quite know how to measure risks (of neurosis or physical defect and unpredictability) against the prospects of new personalties, smaller size to be more manageable, and a different relationship than we have come to know with our three labs.
Some have spoken of “rescue dogs.” We’ll have to see what that is all about. Again, we’d have to be very selective about taking in what others have cast out, knowing that sometimes it is just a matter of convenience for the previous owner to return or give up a perfectly wonderful animal. Some of you have shared your stories along these lines.
I confess, this morning for the first time, this decision has been muddied by the encroaching memories of all the DOWNSIDE of having a new dog in the house, especially a puppy. So much for concentration and focus; so much for uninterrupted naps or night’s sleep. And be prepared for disasters of bowel and bladder and at least one of your favorite things chewed into bits. Remember the hours you’ll be outdoors holding a leash in the ice and snow and wind; the hours you’ll be the object of a needy beast when your own needs will be put on indefinite hold. Remember what it’s like to have a dog that hasn’t a clue what you want it to do, so unlike Tsuga who could look at your eyes and anticipate what you were going to ask him to do.
And so the loss of Tsuga takes new turns, and the empty hole in our house is never far from our thoughts. I pull in to park down by the garden, and first thing, look up towards the house to see his face (and if the light is right, behind that, his wagging tail, in the window. I turn the key on the lock with my left hand, because I know he will want my right hand gently in his mouth the second I step in the door, as this was his greeting.
I suppose in time these reflexes will die away, and that will be sad, too.