“Once you have had a wonderful dog, a life without one, is a life diminished.” - Dean Koontz, author.
There have been few times in my life when I didn't have a canine companion by my side... the longest gap being since the passing of my Border Collie, Libby, in 2009. She was a rescue pet and had been with me since my children were little. Such a faithful and gentle gal, she was 15 or so when she had a stroke and died.
Peter and I bought a house not long afterwards, and decided that it was too soon to replace her. Besides, unlike the home we had rented when we first moved in together, our home has a large enclosed courtyard garden with a paved surface rather than grass.
We are both "dog people" and have often talked about welcoming a puppy into the family, but knew that it would only happen when the time was right. Until recently, we had been fortunate enough to form close friendships with neighbours, each of whom had dogs. One of them lost their elderly Jack Russell, Kurt, and then moved interstate last year with their miniature Dachshund-cross, Poppy. Another has just sold up and transferred north to Brisbane with her Blue Heeler, Hound.
I feel the absence of my friends, but must admit that I also miss visiting, playing with (and patting/petting) their pooches. Studies have shown the physical and mental health benefits of being around animals, particularly dogs. Hence why there are therapy dogs that regularly visit adults and children in health care facilities across Australia and elsewhere in the world.
A trip across town a couple of months ago took us to the vicinity of the RSPCA shelter and also the local dog pound. "Let's pop in and see if there are any puppies," I suggested out of the blue. "Yes, lets," Peter responded with a big smile.
To our disappointment, both were closed. ☹
For the next several days, we trawled through the web sites of animal shelters and foster homes, near and far. Nothing but Rottweilers, Pitt Bulls, Huskies, Staffys, Mastiffs, Kelpies and Shih Tzus... no matter where we looked.
After much consideration, we agreed that a sociable, small to medium-sized dog would best suit our home and our lifestyle. I suggested we search for a Terrier of some kind (like my dear friend, CC's dog, Bilbo). But Peter noted our allergies to dog fur. Oh yes. I had forgotten. Libby's fur made me break out in hives, and dogs in general give Peter itchy eyes and the sniffles.
Perhaps a miniature Schnauzer, then? My daughter had a pair of them once upon a time (Bel and Bruce). "No. Although they're very sweet, I don't want a Schnauzer," said the man of the house.
A Magyar Puli, I suggested? "No way. The coat on a Puli is too profuse, too fussy," he jumped in. A corgi? "Too small," he said.
Okay. What about a Groodle then? A Poodle crossed with a Golden Retriever. Come and see what the internet says about them. "Aha! Yes, I like the look and sound of those," he responded after perusing a few different Web sites with me.
'The Groodle/Goldendoodle is an intelligent and very friendly companion. Groodle/Goldendoodles enjoy being part of the family unit. They enjoy socialising with other dogs, and can adapt to living in a small home as long as they receive adequate daily exercise. Daily walks and physical and mental exercise are a must. Regular trips to the dog park and swimming will keep help keep them entertained.'
Perfect! As luck would have it, one of my daughter's friends had just advertised a nine-week-old miniature Groodle. The good-natured pup was the last of the litter and, although the woman had originally planned to keep her, she'd had a change of heart, realising that, with a toddler of her own to care for, she didn't really have the time to give to a fur baby.
We drove out to the breeder's property in Binalong and spent some time with both the Groodle mother and her puppy. In one sense, it broke my heart to think that we would be taking the little one away from it's mum. But then, I knew that, with us, she would be going (coming) to a caring and loving home.
And that's how Molly the miniature Groodle came to be part of our family.
Life in retirement, as we know it, has changed. We've been busy puppy-parenting: feeding, bathing, training, playing with and exercising Molly; as well as puppy-proofing the house and courtyard garden. It's quite like having a baby all over again. Exciting, exhausting (at times), and euphoric. All in all, thoroughly enjoyable.
Over to you, dear readers. Are you a "dog person" or do you dislike them? Do please tell me all about your own canine companion or fur baby. 🐾
Cooking and writing have been a lifelong passion.
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- Liz Posmyk
NB: I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.