There are a handful of things in life I can’t resist. Strawberry shortcake in the summer is one. That “Jive Talkin’” song by the Bee Gees is another. And puppies.
They are just impossible not to love.
I have a soft spot for all animals, and I’ve been a dog person since I was a little girl. As a first grader, my scroungy black pup named Cindy followed me on the bus on the first day of school. In elementary school, I had a white-and-brown shepherd mix named Bo who was one of my first best friends. We spent a lot of time playing in the yard and traipsing through the woods behind my house.
Then one day, he was gone.
I grew up in a small town in Indiana, so I never knew if Bo ran away, someone picked him up or maybe he was hit by a car. That was one of my first heartbreaks. I think about Bo often and have many great memories of the dog that brought so much happiness to a freckle-faced girl. I’m not sure what happened to him, but I like to think that title of the ‘80s animated film “All Dogs Go to Heaven” has some truth to it.
Think how much fun that place would be.
In high school and college, I had a long-haired black-and-white dog named Woofie who I found after a rainstorm. My family and I posted flyers all over town and at the vet’s office. He didn’t have a chip or tags, so his identity was a mystery. We took him around the neighborhood looking for his owners but never figured out where Woofie once lived. He lived a long life through my early adult years, always hating storms.
Woofie’s original name was Hosehead because he looked just like the flying dog from “Strange Brew.” The name Woofie seemed to stick instead. When I had parties, he always barked along to the beginning of Jane’s Addiction’s “Been Caught Stealing.”
Woofie was a good boy.
For 14 years in my 20s and 30s, my twin red dogs named Jake and Elwood were truly my best friends. A friend of mine found them at 8 weeks old, dumped along a country road. I originally hoped to take just one, but I found it hard to separate them. They were crazy and cute, and accompanied me during many important moments of my life. They came to Colorado with me and loved playing in the river as much as I do. Some of their ashes were spread in their second home, Colorado.
I picture them running through open fields of wild flowers in doggie heaven.
Whenever we lose a pet — I don’t know many people who haven’t experienced that heartbreak — it’s easy to be afraid to open up the heart for another. This fall, it will be three years since I said goodbye to Elwood and two years prior for his brother. They were as much a part of me as being a columnist or loving strawberry shortcake. I haven’t been much for a new pet in my life.
Until a border collie puppy mix named Sweetie stole my heart.
Sweetie was born on a farm about 13 weeks ago. Her owners wanted to find good homes for her and her siblings and found us at a T-ball game at the ball park. I couldn’t even make it past the cage with the sign that read “Free Puppies” without stopping in my tracks. There she was, the runt of the litter, looking so sweet.
I couldn’t resist.
My fiancé and I had discussed getting a chocolate lab puppy for his son at the beginning of the year. We decided we needed to get a little more settled. In a spontaneous moment that makes me question my sanity as I now try to settle her down while I write, we decided that time is now.
She had me at puppy breath.
The last week has been filled with all the excitement and challenges bringing a new puppy home provides. I’m working with Sweetie on house training, which I imagine is about as fun as teaching a toddler how to use a toilet. I have to remember to pick my flip-flops off the floor and watch her around Legos.
Life before us on the farm was probably much different.
Sweetie is adapting well, though, and she might even be a little spoiled. Her puppy belly is spotted and adorable, and helps me love her even more when those sharp little puppy teeth are a less-than-admirable characteristic of her youth. She loves kids and giving puppy kisses, and was a champ last weekend getting her shots. Sweetie gets a little manic right before she falls asleep — what I call the storm before the calm. I can’t get mad because her sweet black face and brown eyes are too hard to resist.
I think she even likes the Bee Jees.
April E. Clark needs a little patience. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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