We now have three dogs. We never intended to have three dogs. We actually never intended to have two dogs either, but that’s a story for another day. Our newest dog, Lady, is another golden retriever, our fourth. The first three have been absolutely wonderful dogs; we had no reason to believe she would be any different. We had no idea, however, what she would really become to our family.
No one is exactly sure how old Lady is. Our vet estimates between seven and ten, and that’s consistent with her history. She belonged to the aunt of a friend for most of her life, until the woman passed away last year. Until then a doted upon only child, Lady suddenly became an orphan, at an age when that can be dangerous for a dog. Her late owner’s sister–my friend’s mother–took her in temporarily, but she needed a permanent home. My friend posted her picture on Facebook asking if anyone was interested in taking her; one look, and I knew we were doomed.
We didn’t say yes right away. Megan was still in the hospital in Cincinnati, being assessed for a bone marrow transplant, and we couldn’t really think about it then. But Megan’s somewhat sudden recovery also made Lady suddenly possible. I called my friend. “We’re not sure you really want her”, we were told. She sleeps a lot, is partially deaf, has repeated ear infections and a cyst on her eye…not terribly different from our 11-year old golden. “Two half dogs should make a whole” was my response…we’ll take her.
My friends volunteered to make the entire drive themselves. When you live in Minnesota, you’ll take any excuse to get 700 miles farther south in the winter. We coordinated a date for her arrival and waited. Megan solved the concerning problem of not knowing her birthday by declaring that her arrival date into our family would now be her birthday: December 29. Lady arrived to birthday cupcakes in her honor; she was home.
Lady has spent the weeks since her arrival settling in. The three dogs moved from suspicion to truce to the affection of buddies. The humans, however, have been fond of her from day one. She’s a sweetie…mellow and well-behaved. But none of us took to her like Megan did. From that homemade cupcake on her first day here, Megan has doted on her. Her affection has been returned. Lady follows her everywhere, sleeps at her feet, is sad when she leaves. I don’t know if Megan’s recent ordeal has anything to do with their bond, but they seem to need each other. As Megan observed, they’re both even growing their hair back out together, after Lady’s trim to remove the mats in her thick fur.
It wasn’t an easy decision to take a new dog into our family, especially at her advanced age and after the overwhelming stress we all just passed through. But love–the fundamental belief that every creature deserves it, no matter their circumstances–won out. Just one more example of the incredible power of love and what can result when you give in–with faith–to its power.
“If nothing saves us from death, at least love should save us from life.” –Pablo Neruda