This past June, my family had to say goodbye to our family dog, our source of entertainment, endless cuddles, and our seemingly bottomless pit of love. He was my yoga dog, my companion throughout my days in both fitness and leisure, and he was just short of total perfection in an animal. His death was too soon and too painful, both for him and for us, and everyone in the family, myself included, knows that there will never be another Oliver on the planet.
But, as is typical after the loss of a pet, after the initial pain begins to subside, and you stop tearing up at the mere thought of your furry friend, and after you've stopped thinking you see him every time you turn a corner in your house, you begin to feel that nag. That familiar pang of wanting to welcome a new member to the family. Dog people know what I am talking about, cat people know what I talking about. You know you can't replace or substitute that ideal animal that you've been forced to say goodbye to, but you know that you have room in your heart and your home for a new soul to squeeze.
Saturday afternoon, my husband and I took a trip to the county animal shelter to look at dogs. We weren't adopting that day, and we knew it, but we wanted to see what kind of pups were available. I am a rabid (pardon the pun) advocate of rescuing animals, and for $30 at my local animal shelter, I can adopt a dog or a puppy who has been vaccinated, fixed, registered, and microchipped. You can't beat that deal for a decade of love and companionship.
While at the shelter, we (of course) zeroed in on a precious little Boxer mix puppy named Panda. She was spritely and energetic, but not overtly so (at least at the time), and seemed to zero in on us as well. As the shelter was getting ready to close for the day, we only had about 10 minutes with her, inside her dog run. We both took to her, and talked about her for the last few days. We told the kids all about her, and decided that I would take a trip to the shelter this morning and begin the adoption process.
When I got there, I filled out the paperwork and asked to have some play time with Panda, outside of her dog run. I got a leash, went to her run, and my hear sank immediately. Not because she was gone, and not because something happened, but because when I looked at her, she wasn't Oliver. I knew at that moment that she was not the dog for us.
Things devolved quickly when she wouldn't let me pick her up. I managed to get her to the play area, and she was about a lightyear passed crazy. She never zeroed in on me like she had on Saturday, and she never stopped jumping and barking. There was no yoga dog in her, she was too fiery and too spunky to even let me rub her belly. I knew I wouldn't be taking her home with me.
The ride home was filled with disappointment. I am disappointed that I didn't feel THAT connection with this beautiful and spritely puppy. I am disappointed that I still compare every single dog to my Oliver. I am disappointed that I had to say goodbye to my yoga dog, and that I can't seem to move on.
More time is needed, obviously. I still have not accepted Oliver's death fully, and it would be cruel to try to bring home a new dog with me wearing that attitude. No pet deserves the pressure of having to live up to that, and the inevitability that s/he will fall miserably short of the mark.
So, I will let another month or two go by. Another month of that palpable absence of a pet in our home. Another month of my daughter asking when we are going to get a new dog. Another month of doing yoga without a companion.
The time will be right when it's right. A new yoga dog will make his or her presence known, and it will be undeniable when it happens.