We all know the depth of our pain when we lose a beloved pet. They are family members, loyal friends and companions. Oftentimes, we are closer to them than we are to our humans. We can never replace a furkid, never. The joyful memories remain in our hearts forever.
Such is the case of my good friend, Doris Conner. She had two lovely rescue dogs, Scottie, Bonnie, and Cairn Terrier, Cooper. Both were exceptionally sweet and gentle. Doris always had dogs throughout her lifetime and cherishes the contribution they make in her life. Months ago, her beautiful Scottie, Bonnie, developed cancer, and she had to say goodbye. This left her with Cairn Terrier, Cooper. Cooper was adopted from Col. Potter Cairn Terrier Rescue, and Doris always described him as “perfect.” Cooper was gentle and friendly with every person and animal he ever met.
And a few months ago, Cooper became ill. Doris’s veterinarian, Dr. Kutish, performed surgery, believing he could buy him time, along with a quality of life. And he was successful, if only for too brief of a time. Cooper began to decline due to the reoccurence of his aggressive cancer, and Doris had to say goodbye to him as well.
This hit Doris very hard, as it was the first time she was without a dog. She could not let go of the loss of Bonnie and Cooper, and the impact it had on her life in the worst possible way. No more wagging tails and liquid-brown eyes looking up at her. No more walks and loyal companionship.
A mission of friendship
I actively began a search to find Doris another Cairn Terrier. My intense mission was through friendship and concern for Doris’s loneliness and sadness. When I personally had been searching in the past for an adult Cairn Terrier, there was none to be had. But, as luck would have it, this time I found a young male Cairn Terrier in the Philadelphia area that was being re-homed.
About a month ago Doris and I made the trip to Philly to meet this boy. “Larry” was a little piece of heaven rolled into a furry little body. A gorgeous red wheaten boy, 1 year old. Sweet and friendly, playful and adorable! It was love at first sight for Doris (and me).
Doris was cautiously excited. Would she and Larry be compatible? How long would it take him to adjust and feel safe and secure? I believe that these concerns are very real for folks bringing a new pet into their fold. You are strangers to each other, and of course there will be a period of adjustment. But I personally have found that, in the end, it always evolves without you realizing it has even happened. Soon you and furkid are in tune with each other. They are effectively communicating with you, and vice versa. They are looking at you with loving eyes and following you around the house. You are loving them, recognizing and appreciating all of those little quirks that endear them to us.
Thoughts on bonding
There is no timetable on how long it takes the bonding process to occur. Each person, and animal, is different. But if you can think less and open your heart more, it will come. Relax and let it happen. I remember when I brought Smudge home at 13 weeks old. I had adult Whitney, who could be very ornery and unaccepting of other dogs. Typically, I would have introduced them on neutral ground. But after two flights from Iowa, with a five hour delay in Chicago, I walked into my house at 3:30 a.m. Both Smudge and I were exhausted, and I carried him in, said “here he is.” Not the proper introduction, but it was all I could muster at the time.
Thankfully things worked out fine. Whitney recognized that Smudge was a baby and had no intention to hurt him. But she let him know the ground rules from the very beginning. I remember Whitney having a drink of water, and clueless puppy Smudge merrily trotted up to the bowl. Whitney stopped drinking and whipped her head around, roaring like a lion! That was the only correction that I every saw Whitney give Smudge, but it was loud and clear. Even at such a tender age, Smudge recognized that Whitney was the alpha and respected that fact throughout their lives together.
A happy homecoming
Today I accompanied Doris to Philly to bring Larry home. We had a wintry mix on our drive there, plus heavy fog around the turnpike entrance. Thankfully, Doris’s son, Robbie, drove and got us there safely. Seeing Larry again was a joy for both me and Doris, and Robbie was very excited to meet him for the first time.
Doris received instructions about Larry’s feeding schedule, favorite games, and how to give belly rubs. All were grateful that Larry would have a loving home where he would be treasured. Having been crate trained, Larry was an angel in the car. But when we stopped at the rest area to let him stretch his legs, his anxiety was obvious. Who were we, and where were we taking him? Larry was reluctant to come out of the crate, and he was shaking. But with gentle encouragement, he was soon prancing around the grounds, willing to befriend the many people he saw coming and going.
Everything is new
Upon his arrival at his new home, Larry explored his new yard carefully, checking out each item in the yard as well as the surrounding fence. He also did some marking of his new territory! Again, Larry was reluctant to enter the house. This whole experience was new and scary to him. He was encouraged to come inside and then proceeded to explore the house as well. At one point, Robbie sat on the floor and held Larry on his lap to give him some loving reassurance. I was able to capture this wonderful moment with a picture.
Expect some bumps
As I mentioned last week, there are always bumps in the road with any relationship. Nothing is perfect, and you must get to know each other’s strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes. And this too evolves. As we spend time together this naturally happens, with humans and pets. Sometimes humans are not what they seem, but with animals what you see is what you get. How great is that?
When I brought baby Swayze home from New York at 13 weeks old, he screamed in the car for about the first 15 minutes. I had ripped him from everything that he knew, and the poor little guy was very frightened. I cannot even remember the process, but Swayze was soon a happy and secure member of the Endo animal house. He had a GREAT mentor in big brother, Smudge.
I am wishing Doris and Larry many healthy and happy years together. Swayze can’t wait to play with you, Larry!
Each pet is an individual
When you bring a new pet into your household, remember to accept them as an individual. They will not have the same character traits as the pets before them, but they will have a wonderful way of sneaking into your heart when you least expect it! Enjoy the experience, and be grateful to have the love and companionship that your new pet will offer you throughout their lifetime.
Judy Endo is the author of Paws-itive Pet Tales. A lifelong resident of the Wilkes-Barre area, she has been a professional dog trainer/competitor as well as a lifetime animal lover and strong supporter of animal rescue. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org