As my devoted, adoption blog followers have known for over a year now, my posts about our family dog who passed away last May are emotionally charged for me as the writer and for many readers who share the same love for our canine family members. We seem to all understand that losing the perfect pet is very difficult. The memories of our first family dog growing up with my two now-fully-grown sons will forever be cherished, as will the valuable life lessons my children learned because of him. It’s difficult to deny the benefits of raising children with a devoted, trusted pet in the family.
Although the pain of losing our dear yellow Lab, Jasper, has not faded for anyone in my family, especially as TV commercials and YouTube videos seemingly always feature Labradors, we have finally “embarked” on a new adventure with a modified version of our dearly departed canine child. Introducing our newest adopted family member: an apricot-colored Labra-doodle named “Duffy”. His full name is Lord Dufner of Duffington, thanks to my imminently-going-to-college son.
Some may wonder why we would want a new puppy if both “boys” will be away at college by the fall. I myself justified remaining dog-less in Seattle for the rest of my life, figuring we had the perfect family pet (except for the shedding) and no dog could ever fill that void or measure up to Jasper. However, as the months went by and the college acceptances arrived, I realized that it was selfish of me to keep my 11-year old daughter from enjoying a “sibling” when both brothers were away at college. My husband and I each grew up with dogs, my sons had grown up with a dog and therefore, my daughter deserved a dog to accompany her through her teenage years. She also deserved to learn compassion and nurturing skills that any family pet can teach a child.
As suggested by some of my responsible and encouraging blog followers through posted comments following my two previous blog posts about Jasper, I had taken my daughter to the nearby dog shelter to “interview” prospective adoptees starting in January. Unfortunately, after several visits both in person and online, we couldn’t find a match since many of the dogs weren’t “kid-friendly”. I was impressed that the shelter was so careful about making a good match. We filled out a questionnaire that was almost as rigorous as the one we filled out before adopting our daughter. I was delighted that my daughter learned about shelters, the importance of caring for dogs, and that finding the right home for each dog is important.
My son, who had taken Jasper’s death especially hard and wanted to train our new dog before leaving home for college, took it upon himself to find a reputable, local breeder. He didn’t actually warn me about the impending adoption, calling our outing just a “visit” with a perspective pup. I was grateful that my daughter was away on a sleepover and missed out on the visit, which I had assumed would have made it impossible for me to show any resistance when confronted with those pleading green eyes. However, my husband and son were very effective without her help. What started out as a visit, ended up a full-fledged adoption, complete with crate, food, binder of instructions, and squeaky toys all piled into the back of our car for the drive home. I shouldn’t have been surprised and that was probably their intention from the start.
Duffy has now been a full member of our family for three months and we are all hopelessly hooked. I don’t remember much about Jasper’s puppyhood, now twelve years ago, except for certain early moments when the boys (then ages 6 and 8) screamed about the nipping with sharp teeth. However, this little pup is smart and very endearing and most importantly, has cheered us all up in a very brief amount of time. I had to admit that when my husband announced “I’m no longer in mourning”, I too, felt much better than I had in months. I know I’m not the first dog owner to adopt a new dog after the death of a beloved pet, but the feeling of joy when watching my family interact with this new, fluffy companion is heartwarming. I highly recommend the adoption of a family pet, from a shelter or a reputable breeder, to any responsible, caring family.
Patty Lazarus is the author of a new book about adoption titled “March into My Heart: A Memoir of Mothers, Daughters, and Adoption.” Available on Amazon: http://amzn.to/Y5JNvg