Tuesday, April 30, 2024

There's No Biting on Tuesdays


Taking a break in my cooking to start a little mini series about losing my beloved dog and getting a new puppy. Mostly for me to get my feelings out but I hope the words resonate with some of you as well. When I got my first ever dog, 15 years ago, I kept a puppy blog (long since abandoned) for the first year of her life. I was endlessly fascinated with how she grew from week to week but it was also the place I got to express my fears and frustrations with raising a puppy. I didn't promote it or expect anyone to read it. But a few lovely people found it and reached out to express similar feelings. There are more social platforms now and blogs are less popular. But, again, this is mostly for me. If you're following along on the new journey, I'd love to hear from you.

Part 1: Hadley, Winter and Willow

In June of 2007, we brought home my first ever pet, a beautiful 8 week old Cavalier. We'd met her when she was only 6 days old and the wait time for her to finish nursing and be ready for her new home was torture. We named her Hadley, after a character in our favorite TV show, and I was prepared with a ton of research on raising puppies. Those of you that have raised puppies probably know it didn't take long before I began to wonder if I'd made the biggest mistake of my life. Puppies are hard, people! So damn hard. We got through it, though. She grew up to be the most amazing dog and she had my whole heart. I lost her a year ago, at age 14 (geriatric for Cavaliers) and my heart shattered.

I cried multiple times a day, for months. I'm crying now just remembering her. I missed her so much but also missed having a dog. I realized I'd want another one but had no idea when I'd be ready. I said I would let fate decide. Many months later, I was just as miserable. I'd reached out to a few breeders, even had some offers of available pups, but I wasn't ready. Later, when I finally began researching breeders in earnest (Hadley's breeder was no longer available), I narrowed it down to two that came with excellent references. One invited me to put myself on her waiting list for a spring litter. The other, with whom I'd filled out a website form, had not yet responded. I decided I would join the wait list for the spring litter which would mean a puppy by mid-summer. I was OK waiting.

I quietly made plans, placed puppy items on my Amazon wish list and wrote a list of things I'd need when the time came, still in no rush. Two things I knew with absolute certainty was that I wanted another girl and that her name would be Winter. Why? Hadley's mother's name was Winter and I thought it was a great name, not common, and a way to honor my late dog, even if they were not related.

Not long after the new year, I received a phone call from the other breeder on my list, whose form I had filled out but had not heard from. Apologies but they had just moved from my home state of New York down to South Carolina and things got hectic. But a litter was born not long after they moved and she'd seen that I wrote about losing my dog and wanting a girl. There were 3 girls in the litter and the move meant they'd not had a chance to start a wait list. All 3 girls were available and would be ready to come home by the end of February. 

In truth, I was uncertain because it was months sooner than I'd now planned and the change of state would make bringing her home more difficult. But the breeder and I spoke for a long time and I liked her. She said the babies were too young to really see differences in their appearance so she was going to wait a month before taking their photos. But, if I wanted to see their mother, her photo was on their website. Her name is Winter.

Winter?? Clearly not Hadley's mother who is no longer alive but another mom with such an uncommon name? I ran to the website to look at her and saw a sweet, gentle face. I told the breeder to go ahead and send me their photos when she was ready. A month later, I received an email with photos of 3 beautiful little girls.


I had said I'd let fate decide. I wanted some kind of sign to let me know when it would be right. Years ago, on the exact day we decided to go ahead with finding a puppy was the day that Hadley was born. I took it as a sign. And now here was another. One of Winter's babies was meant for me. My only problem is that I could no longer name her Winter. But I wanted to keep a W name to honor both the sweet mamas named Winter. I named her Willow.

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