We said goodbye to our beloved old dog at the beginning of summer. He joined our household at 6 weeks of age, a huge ball of fluff from Animal Humane whose only crime was that his father, a dog of indeterminate heritage, had impregnated his mother, a pure-blooded Newfoundland with papers.

Oso grew into a loyal family companion, and kept us company for twelve years. We watched him decline this past year, and when his suffering outweighed his happiness, we called our vet. She came to our home a few months ago and one tearful morning in May we all said goodbye to Oso in his favorite spot between the old plum tree and the grape arbor.

As regular readers of my blog know, I spend a fair amount of the year in transit. The beginning of my summer (not the one on the calendar) is usually marked by Mother’s Day. My summer always ends in August, on the day after my oldest child’s birthday, when I head back to the Sunport after weeks of avoiding my favorite airline.

Until a few weeks ago, this summer has felt a bit "off". We omitted the family vacation for reasons of conflicting schedules and business decisions. So instead of heading to a northern NM campground for some R & R, I toted my son to a pair of conferences back east; a few weeks later, my daughter and I headed west to work at a horse ranch that serves children with disabilities.

We were fortunate enough to spend some time away from home this summer. But more time at home meant that I could even try some things here in Albuquerque that I’d wanted to do for some time. I took a tram ride up the mountain, I worked as an elections poll watcher, I spent an afternoon at Tingley Beach, I shadowed a mayoral candidate, and I finally decided on the proper shade of fuchsia for a wall in my kitchen (as of yet unpainted).

But the summer still felt incomplete.

I noticed it when I would walk in the bosque or to the Grower’s Market. I felt like something was missing when I would sit at my laptop and work without anything underfoot.

I felt bereft when I would go outside to do my second favorite household chore, hanging up laundry on the clothesline. And I swallowed a lump in my throat each time I passed up the cookie jar next to the washing machine – there was no need to slip a few doggie treats in my pocket

I missed my faithful companion.

So one day in late July, I decided to just take a look at the dogs posted on the Animal Humane website. Not that we were ready to bring an animal home, mind you, but just to look and see.

And a dog’s face stole our heart.

We made our way down to Animal Humane, stopping at the La Michoacana de Paquime to get some horchata, and asked to see this dog. It turns out she was a special dog – one who had a difficult start in her short life. And she could not be adopted unless she had a companion dog to keep her company and to teach her better canine behavior.

So we thought about it for a minute. And decided that two dogs were better than one!

One of the sad stories coming out of this economic recession is the difficult choice some families have made to give up their pets. We saw many dogs at Animal Humane who had been relinquished by their owners - some for economic reasons, but far too many for other reasons.

Two of those Animal Humane dogs now reside in our backyard. And in our living room. And on the front porch. And
when they fit, under the dining room table (aka as my office).

One is a dear Chesapeake Bay Retriever who likes nothing more than to play fetch all day long. We’ve named him Dunbar after a favorite poet.

Haru (that’s Japanese for sunshine) is younger and a bit more wary and wily. She’s the pup we spotted on the screen nearly a month ago. Haru is in a loving home for the first time in her life, and boy, is she coming out of her shell! (The cats in our household will attest to this with equal parts vigor and disdain).

We’re back to taking long walks in the bosque most days. Thanks to the dogs, our lives have been enriched these past few weeks by snake, toad, and lizard sightings. We’ve watched dragonflies and damselflies zip across the water, seen cattail forests taller than our heads, and noted the changing colors of the river in response to recent storms.

But best of all, my summer finally feels complete.

Views: 44

Comment by mombat on August 17, 2009 at 11:24am
Congratulations on the new additions, they look great.
Comment by IrishRider on August 17, 2009 at 11:35am
Congrats and good for you. I am very sorry to hear of your loss, but these two will also hold a special place in your heart. They are beautiful.
Comment by Mom Of Two on August 17, 2009 at 1:12pm
What a great story and I'm sorry for your loss. We too put to sleep one of our 15 year old dogs a week ago and we definitely feel the void. We still have one and need to wait until he gets over his loss before introducing a new puppy, but I have been peaking at Animal Humane's website. So sad all the animals up for adoption in these times. It makes me want to bring them all home. Thank you for adopting. They look very happy to be with you.
Comment by Tracy Dingmann on August 17, 2009 at 5:33pm
Oh, so you named her Haru! My son just said he liked her best. But he also said Dunbar was a "giant teddy bear" with beautiful teeth.
Comment by cc on August 17, 2009 at 8:14pm
I am sad for your loss. We can relate to being at-one with a dog.
Glad there's a happy new twosome to connect with in doggie-time.
Comment by JMG on August 17, 2009 at 9:10pm
I totally agree. Life is not complete without dogs.
Comment by Tricross on August 18, 2009 at 7:49am
So sorry for your loss but glad you were able to move forward. Looks like a great bunch of fur kids but I have to tell you, Haru looks like a little trouble maker ;)
Comment by J. Paul Lanier on August 19, 2009 at 11:37am

Nikkou = kanji "sunshine"
Regards, Paul
Comment by Severine on August 19, 2009 at 8:39pm
Thank you for sharing your love and home with pets in need. And thank you for sharing your wonderful posts. I always look forward to them.
Comment by cc on August 19, 2009 at 9:44pm
Friends of ours have had Chesapeake Bay Retrievers and love them dearly, btw. But Haru's face and demeanor from the photo reminds me of our Maggie who had parvo as a pup - her whole litter was rescued from Alamo, NM - and when she came to us she would eat anything - prickly pear cactus, biting off the spines, spiders, bees, cat food and leftover pie. Maggie had only good relations with humans, tho. Her foster mom had her lay on her chest while she was recuperating from parvo. So glad Haru has you all and Dunbar now!!


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