Dog Days are Here Again-And We Couldn't Be Happier

milo2A Catholic Priest, a Protestant Minister, and a Jewish Rabbi are all asked the same question on a TV talk show. When does life begin? The Priest quickly answers "at conception." The Minister wrinkles his forehead and says "when the Lord blows a soul into the tiny fetus." The Rabbi grins and replies "When the kids leave for college and the dog dies!"

It's an old joke, but it has been on my mind a lot recently. As you all know, our faithful companion and gentle giant Max passed away in April. Our sadness was profound, but there was a degree of freedom that we gained that we have not had in the last 33 years of child and/or dog parenting. Weekend days and nights out became more long and leisurely instead of "Oh, we have to get home for the dog." But there was an emptiness when we did make it home...

I am not the "dog person" that Barb is. When we lost Max, she said she never wanted to again face the trauma of putting a loving pet down. And for the first 6 months, she held to that. But I could see her resolve was weakening and that she was beginning to ache for a wagging tail and a cool, wet nose when she returned home from work or from a day of babysitting. The kitten tried to impersonate a dog as best she could, but for Barb, it just wasn't the same. I knew the tide had turned when Barb began reading out loud the dog histories from rescue center postings that popped up incessantly on her Facebook stream. I didn't try to fight the urge, I just stipulated that anything under 10 pounds didn't meet my criteria for a good dog pet.

When a free Saturday afternoon rolled around on Thanksgiving weekend, it felt like all the planets were aligned. With one of our granddaughters, we checked out an adoption "event" at a local Petsmart but saw no dogs that interested us. On our own later in the afternoon, Barb said: "Let's check out Kay's." Meaning Kay's Animal Shelter in Arlington Heights, the shelters from which both Max and our first dog Murphy had found us. It was pretty clear our dogless days were coming to an end.

It wasn't without a bit of a battle. There was only one dog that moved us. He was 18 months old, not a puppy (good,) and he weighed more than ten pounds (even better,) but we had competition. A young couple had seen the pooch a few minutes before we had, and seemed infatuated with him. They were only concerned that there might be a "situation" between this pup and Gimlet, their beloved Irish Terrier. The wife went home and brought Gimlet back with her. The two dogs played together well at first in the fenced-in yard at Kay's  but after a few minutes, some teeth were bared and the dogs decided they didn't care for each other all that much. Barb and I looked at each other, knowing what the other couple would decide, and that the little four-legged fellow would be spending his life in our home.

The shelter called him a Pomeranian mix. With his curly tail, Barb has him pegged as a Shiba Inu. On a call from her Thanksgiving break in Palm Springs, Laury named him Milo, adding to the litany of "M" names for our dogs.  He has been a prince since Saturday, readily adapting to our house and yard. Yes, we had to do some schedule rearranging, and quickly hire a dog walker for those days when we both work. And carry out dinners replaced restaurants over the weekend. But the smile on Barb's face when Milo cuddles up in her lap proves that life begins when it begins in your heart.

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