Hope is A Puppy

Our first week without Bo was not easy. My eyes are tired. I've cried every day since his diagnosis, every night since his death. And my home feels empty, alone. Like love is missing. Because it is. A third of my family is gone.

Keeping myself busy isn't enough to fast-forward the grieving process. I've been finishing the book on Bo, working on photographs, prepping to teach my dialogue class to the YA chapter of RWA... Looking at puppies online has helped the most, however, because you can't feel sad when you look at their scrunchy faces.

So Sunday my husband pulls me out of bed, though I have a terrible head cold, and announces we are going on a road trip to Port Orchard to visit a litter of puppies. He's clearly tired of the gloom hanging over our home. I am too, so I drag myself to the shower. I know we have to move on eventually, but my plan was to rescue another dog from a shelter again. My hesitation builds. I know I need another dog in my life, yet it feels way too soon. Every dog I see is NOT Bo.

We drive and ferry it to Port Orchard, sit and play with puppies that all look alike to me and Rob, and we're a bit overwhelmed by having to chose among these little critters who haven't formed their personalities yet. When you chose an adult dog, such as from a shelter, you can distinguish their character.

Over the course of a half hour, however, one pup is making his moves more often than the others---he's tugging on Rob's pant leg, nipping on his shoe lace, and then attacking my coat. Rob remarks he likes the fiestiness (read dominance) in this puppy, but that the puppy's tail has a crick in the tip. I, on the other hand, adore that flaw. I don't care about pure-bred perfection or AKC papers. Rob wants more confidence in the dog's health, so breeder assurances as to lineage gives Rob his power back, makes him believe we can avoid the trauma of Bo's cancer in our future dog. Whatever gives him hope, I condone.

So we pick the imperfect puppy with the crooked tail. And in 2 weeks we pick him up. Enough time for me to clean up the house, get over my cold, work through more grief steps. I cry on the way home, I cry that night. Rob doesn't understand why I'm still sad. It's real now; we are having to replace Bo, my one and only. He's really gone.

Mostly I'm worried I won't bond with the puppy in the same way. I think crazy thoughts, like I won't love his smell or the feel of his coat or the depth of his bark the way I did with Bo. But we HAVE to move forward. Bo was all about progress, not paralysis. As Rob put it, a puppy cannot replace Bo, but he can eclipse Bo's death. We NEED hope to fill our home.

Hope is a puppy.