I’ve been absent from my blog for almost two months. Some of those weeks were because I was working to meet a deadline while at the same time studying hard for my college math finals (hey, I got an A in math and turned in the book on time!). But some of those weeks, as friends on Facebook know already, were because I was grieving the loss of our precious dog, Poppet.
I have mourned the loss of many pets over the course of my life. But for some reason, this one hit me and my husband extra hard. Poppet was special to us somehow. I think the suddenness of her death, even though we knew she had some health issues, contributed to the pain of it. It hurt so bad that we wondered if we would want to get another pet ever, just because we wanted to avoid hurting the same way again. Those first weeks were tough. One day, when the lawn care providers came, I burst into tears at the sound of the lawnmower because it reminded me that I hadn’t had to clean up poop in the backyard. It wasn’t even a task I’d liked! But it reminded me that she wasn’t with us.
Back in 2003, I knew that I wanted to add to our family pets with a small dog who could be with me in my office while I worked. We had two 60 pound dogs (a border collie and a sheltie) who spent more time outdoors than indoors. On Thanksgiving Day, I happened to catch the National Dog Show while cooking dinner. That’s when I saw my first Papillon. It was love at first sight. I raced to my computer and began researching. In December I found a reputable breeder in South Dakota. On December 30, 2003, Poppet was born. She and I flew home together nine weeks later (I was a very popular passenger, both on the plane and in the Denver airport).
Poppet was just the cutest thing ever. She was totally the alpha dog, even as a puppy, forcing Misty and Tiko to submit to her will. And she was with me through some major life events, including but not limited to selling one home and moving to another, the death of my mom, a shattered ankle (non-weight-bearing for three months so she had to put up with the scooter and crutches), and cancer surgery and treatment.
Eventually, she had her own Facebook page and entertained many of my readers and friends with her comments, especially those snarky ones about the cat, Pinky.
Last year, Poppet was diagnosed with tracheal collapse. And earlier this year, we were told she had a heart murmur. You wouldn’t have known she had any issues by the way she behaved. Right up to the end, she continued running and jumping and hopping (she was famous in our neighborhood for the way she could “pop” about four feet straight up in the air).
On the day of her death (April 18, 2017), she had two seizures that were caused by an enlarged heart. The second seizure happened while we were at the vet’s, and we knew then that we had to let her go. So I held her in my arms as I said goodbye and watched her cross the rainbow bridge.
I do believe the Bible gives us some reason to believe that we may see our beloved pets again on the New Earth, and whether or not that proves to be true, I still find comfort in imagining Poppet in heaven with my mom, the way the two of them used to be here on earth, Poppet nestled between Mom’s hip and the arm of the chair.
I mentioned above that Jerry and I wondered if we would ever again risk our hearts to a new pet. But the day came when I found myself visiting some Papillon sites. I didn’t say a word to my husband about it (hey, we were still crying so much, both of us). Then, on that very same day I was poking around on the Internet, Jerry came walking into the living room and said, “It’s too quiet. I think we need another dog.” And somehow, the anticipation of getting a puppy began to heal some of the hurt we were experiencing over the loss of Poppet.
In fact, it seems a tribute to what a special friend Poppet was to us that we want and need to fill that empty space with another puppy.
And so I would like to introduce you to … Boo Bear … our new Papillon puppy. She will come to live with us in less than six weeks (which still feels like a very long time to wait). Boo Bear is black and white now but has potential to become a tri-color since her mom is black and white and her dad is sable and white. We won’t know for sure for a few more weeks. We don’t care if she stays B&W or if she becomes a tri. Either way she has already won us over.
I am currently reading Zak George’s Dog Training Revolution as well as watching his many videos on YouTube, plus making a list of all the puppy supplies we must buy (dog pen, smaller crate, new puppy toys, electric cord covers, puppy harness, training treats, clicker, etc.). How can something that little need so much stuff!?!? LOL!
I’m so thankful to God for giving us pets to enrich our lives. And as much as I love Pinky and have loved all our cats that came before, they tend to be much more independent. They allow us the honor of being in their presence, so to speak. <g>
I think God gave us dogs to learn a thing or two about unconditional and extravagant love. No matter how much I’ve messed up in my life (and even with them), my dogs have always loved me unconditionally and extravagantly. May I learn to love people the same way.
(This tribute was first published on my personal blog on Sunday, May 21st.)