I’d wanted a pup for a year, but it’s hard to find a young rescue in my area. My son Anthony suggested I contact Barb who I met in the 1970s. I sent her a message in July. She didn’t know of any pups then but would keep her eye out, so I raised Monarchs and waited. In late September, Barb sent the puppy video from the Chemung County SPCA and said the pups would be fostered five miles from me. We set up a time to visit.
Barb introduced me to the loving, patient foster mom in her roomy walk-in basement. The foster situation was A+. The six pups were slightly under six weeks old and would stay with their litter and foster mom for a few weeks. Barb told me their history: a Black Lab mom rescued in FL, father(s) unknown), a large litter divided for fostering with two families in my area. They were handled with love.
How could I choose when they all had soft trusting eyes and beautiful puppy faces? I wanted a female, so we put the two boys in a separate play area. I sat in the middle of the floor with legs crossed meditation style and waited.
The four girls waddled over to check me out. Sniffing, nibbling my clothes and fingers with sharp little teeth, moving on to roll a toy or pee. Puppies have a short attention span, but one stayed, crawled into my lap, settled in, and relaxed.
That’s my girl!
That night, I fretted. What have I done? Isn’t this too much considering the challenge of adjusting to cochlear implant hearing and neurological fatigue? And what about time to write? Instead of sleeping, I made a list of possible helpers.
My son Anthony lives three miles away and will help with day care and more. My NC son David has three dogs and will help if needed, but he’s far away. Barb will help me polish my training skills. My dog Willow is energetic enough to enjoy a young friend and she’s 100% reliable and gentle with puppies, kids, kittens, and guinea pigs. Willow may be the best support of all.
I’d agreed to give two workshops on hope and loss in Rochester and Webster, NY on November 5 and 6, so I needed to arrange overnight care. I’d also signed up for a dream workshop November 22-24.
The next morning, I remembered to contact an artist friend Lisa Baechtle who knows dogs well and paints pet portraits along with nature-inspired symbolic images. Lisa was staying a few miles from me, so I asked if she’d be the puppy’s auntie and stay at my house when I need to be out of town. Within hours, Lisa said she would help. She went with me on my next visit to the litter.
There will be late nights and lost sleep. There will be times I need puppy care and can’t find it. There will be snowy mornings when I don’t want to walk first thing but we’ll walk anyway. I’m choosing joy, despite the challenges. I’m lured by dreams of puppy snuggles, oxytocin rushes, and a loving, well-trained companion.
I thought about the Goddess Artemis (Diana in Roman mythology), Lover of Solitude and the Wilderness, New Moon, Childbirth, and much more. I’ve embraced this archetype since my husband’s death. When given her wish by her father Zeus, Artemis doesn’t ask for a temple, offerings, or jewels. She wants to live alone in the wild with her hounds. As the story goes, “Artemis visited Pan, the god of the forest, who gave her seven female and six male dogs.”
I love puppies, but since I’m only human, I’ll adopt just one.
By the time this is posted, the pup will be home with Willow and me. Maybe she’ll even get a name–and I’m leaning toward Joy. How do you foster joy? Do you stretch to invite that energy into your life? For a post about my childhood dog Amigo, my major grief support friend when my dad died in 1959, see He’s Only A Dog. For another post about Artemis, see Lessons from Artemis, Goddess of the Wild.