It was about 10 years ago when I put my last dog down. It was painful. It was heartbreaking. I never wanted to experience that sort of loss again.
As I left the vet’s office I just needed to be alone. I cried. I was filled with memories and emotion. I made a promise to myself that this was it. Never again am I getting a dog knowing full well the eventual outcome and heartache their loss will mean to one’s life.
I was at a transition in life when I got married just two years prior to the dog passing. My wife never connected with my Black Lab. My Stepson certainly didn’t feel anything towards the canine. Indeed, the dog getting sick and needing to be euthanized came at an opportune time…if ever there is such a time in a person’s life.
Afterwards I drove to the hardware store where I browsed the aisles for what seemed like hours. Why? I needed to find my happy place. Nobody else felt my grief. I didn’t want to go home. After all, there is nothing more lonely in life than to deal with the empty kennel syndrome all by yourself.
Nope, never again was I getting a hunting dog. These days I rarely go duck hunting. There is likely only a pheasant or two in my entire county. And frankly, if a person has to have a dog I could not see owning anything but a Labrador Retriever. Without a doubt when God made dogs he stopped with the Lab as he molded the perfect canine companion.
Within a year of losing my dog something else came along in my life–my first biological child. I quickly realized how raising a puppy was a lot less challenging and costly, but the task of becoming a father certainly occupied my time and energy. Indeed, I forgot all about being dog-less for one of the first times in my life.
That is, until my stepson turned 17 and decided he wanted a dog. He held this fantasy notion that if he took the puppy with him while driving to visit friends…well, he would garner more attention. Presumably attention from girls. I dunno. I never stooped to such tactics, although I’m aware when used properly it can work marvelously to a single guy’s advantage. In other words, the cuter the puppy, the stronger the magnetic attraction by the female human persuasion.
I worked to quickly squelch this harebrained scheme. Pulling some parental logic, I asked him what would happen to the dog for the 10+ years of its life AFTER he moved on to college. As suspected, the dog would then by default become my sole responsibility. I quickly nixed this idea.
Then a few more years passed when my daughter then became school-aged and started asking for a dog. I thought…NO…not this again. I’ve been down this track before. But this time things were different. She needed a summer companion. She would be around home for the next 10 years to presumably care for the critter. And moreover, she wants to grow up to be a veterinarian. How can you be a vet without animal experience? She played me perfectly.
We brought a new Yellow Lab puppy home on May 5th from a local breeder. We named her Mikka and boy what a ball of energy she has become. Yes, I lost the battle. I mean, when I’ve grown up with dogs for the first 45 years of my life…how could I deny my daughter the same youth canine experience?
Well, I was steadfast in my decision that if I am buying a dog it would be a Lab…and after two BLACK Labs this time it would be something different. I wanted to go with a YELLOW Lab.
Mikka has grown into quite the family pet. New this time is Mikka’s also an indoor dog. All of my previous dogs have been outdoor kenneled dogs, so that is also a completely new experience for me. Still getting used to having a dog in the house, but I must say they grow much closer to the family that way being with you almost 24/7.
But today the crate is empty again. We’ve been through the puppy obedience sessions and all that sort of thing…but now she is taking the first big step toward growing up. She’s in puppy kindergarten. Yup, for the next two weeks she is attending training at Tom Dokken’s Oak Ridge Kennels near Northfield, MN. They do an excellent job with the dogs and I can’t wait to see how much Mikka has learned.
So, for the next 10 days or so I need work through my loneliness once again knowing how this time it’s only temporary. Mikka is a great dog with the potential of being my best hunting dog ever. She’s smart…good looking…and I can already imagine her flushing those pheasants within gun range. My only concern now is…can I still hit those birds so as not to disappoint a new pup? We shall soon see.