As soon as Hoover was diagnosed with cancer, the three boys in my life started talking about getting a puppy. My heart and head screamed "NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!" to this suggestion, both because my heart was breaking and because it's been 13 years since I had a puppy but I remember how much work it was and ohmygosh give me a break.
Then, when George took my Furry Golden Sunshine to the vet for the last time, my heart well and truly broke, and all I could do for days on end was cry. In the nadir of my own grief, I noticed how mopey George was, how he kept surfing the Internet for Burnese Mountain Dog and Great Pyrenees breeders in our area.
George has always wanted a huge dog. I believe this is a direct result of testosterone and I have vigorously fought his big-dog yearnings for years. I do not want a dog that weighs more than I do. I do not want to clean up horse-size piles of poo from my yard (or carpet). I do not want to buy the mega-size bags of Iams, or pay more expensive kennel and vet rates, either. But most of all, I don't want to have a dog whose life expectancy is shorter than the average dog.
Dogs don't live long enough as it is.
Fortunately, George pulled out all the golden-retriever-themed books we own and reread them in the week after Hoover left us, and having him in this vulnerable state, I decided to compromise. We could get a golden puppy after Ironman in September. Yeah, that would work.
But George kept moping. The boys kept talking about puppies. And George's training for Ironman, which had already taken on a level of enthusiasm usually reserved for root canals and April 15, started petering out. His heart just isn't in the race this year.
Then it dawned on George that if we didn't go to Madison this year, we could get a puppy NOW. His enthusiasm for the race became more or less nonexistent at that point. His enthusiasm for making a list of contacts for golden breeders, however, blossomed like the giant hybiscus in our neighbor's yard. It was beyond human power to contain.
To exercise some damage control, I said okay, we can get a puppy under two conditions. First it's got to be a girl. I wanted to rub a dog belly again (males have that furry penile sheath thingie that gets in the way of a good belly rub...ewwww). Plus, because females are in greater demand than males, I figured it would take a while to find a female at the right age to leave her mother, so I'd have a little time.
My second condition was that we name her Daisy. At that point, George's puppy lust was such that he would have agreed to naming her Doo-Doo Face if it got him what he wanted. George agreed to Daisy and sprang into action.
This is when Hoover exercised his influence with the angels, who, I am sure, would agree to anything the Furry Golden Sunshine wanted if he would just stop jumping up and licking their noses and knocking their halos askew.
The very first breeder George called, from a town 30 minutes north of ours, had one puppy left in a litter she co-owns in Michigan. A girl. Nine weeks old. Bred from a Westminster champion named Stormy. The breeder, who is married to a veterinarian, only breeds when she wants a new dog for conformation or agility shows. All the other pups are sold as pets with spay/neuter contracts to families with fenced yards who want a dog to live in the house with them as a member of the family.
Um. HELLO!?! Does that sound like a family you know?
I couldn't believe it. Three weeks and a day after Hoover left us, we're picking a Daisy.
The Michigan breeder sent us a picture of our Daisy yesterday. One look at her sweet puppy face and I was lost.
Hopelessly yearning to smell frito paws and puppy breath.
And crying anew over the loss of my Hoover.
It's all very complicated and sad and joyous at the same time. We're picking Daisy up tonight, and the madness of puppydom begins. But one thing is certain. We are a very lucky family to have the Furry Golden Sunshine watching out for us.