A few years ago we lost Pumpkin, a golden retriever we had gotten as a puppy, to cancer. After we said our final goodbye, and she crossed the rainbow bridge, my husband and I cried so loudly I suspect people could hear us from the waiting room.
For a couple of days, Ginger, our other golden retriever, moped around the house. She stared at her sister’s empty bed. My husband and I decided to get a new dog. After all, we reasoned, it would be good for Ginger. It turned out to be very good for us, too.
We decided that we would prefer to adopt a dog from a shelter. Because Ginger was old and so gentle by nature, we wanted a smaller dog who wouldn’t be too tough for her. We went with Ginger to Wayside Waifs and introduced her to a cute little mix.
In the year she had been alive, the little pup had been in three different homes and had been taken to the shelter twice. She shied away from us at first, but when I was squatting down, she ran over, licked by nose and darted away. I knew she was our dog. We correctly suspected that her initial timidity hid a fierce little spirit, so we named her Moxie.
When we first brought Moxie into our house on a snowy night, she trembled and refused to take a treat from my hand. Just an hour or two later, she was curled up on my legs, as though she knew she was finally home.
Moxie and Ginger made a funny, sweet pair. Ginger was mellow, with saintly patience, while Moxie was high-strung and filled with energy. They played tug-of-war, although Ginger didn’t have to try very hard. Moxie took to sitting and lounging on top of Ginger, who found no quarrel with the arrangement.
Over a year after Moxie joined our family, we had to say goodbye to Ginger. It was just as painful as before. This time, we went almost immediately to Wayside Waifs for a new pet.
We were won over by a year-0ld rat terrier we named Clio. She had been picked up on the streets of Wichita as a puppy, and for the past several months, she had been in shelters.
Clio seemed to be a good match with Moxie. True, at first Moxie defended “her” spots in our laps, and Clio guarded her food, but they soon learned there were plenty of cuddles and kibble to go around. They are funny, curious girls who love their walks and love snuggling. Every day when we come home from work or running errands, we find them sitting side by side at the front window, waiting to greet us.
Every one of our dogs has been different, and we love them for their own quirks and qualities – Moxie’s curious head tilt, for example, or the way Clio jumps about five fee in the air when she gets excited. But what all dogs have in common is their ability to love with all their hearts, once they understand they are loved.
You can never replace an old dog. Years later, memories of them still make you smile and tug at your heart. However, sharing your love and your home with a dog in need of both is always a blessing, and an opportunity to make wonderful new memories.
- Stacey Donovan, Contributing Writer for Wayside Waifs