Many of you are aware that we recently lost the love of our lives, Mr. Maximus Otto Servidio. He, as I have spoken so fondly of, was the dog among dogs, and I truly believe that his existence should be immortalized.
But someone new has come to fill the void.
A shelter rescue from a kill shelter in Virginia, Luna "Cella" Servidio made her debut on the night that I was supposed to be at my daughter's final "back to school" night. I have spent every year since pre-kindergarten, up at the school, meeting the teachers. This year, I was sitting at North Shore Animal League, awaiting approval for the adoption of a small Catahoula Leopard Dog/Beagle mixed breed, who had very quickly stolen my heart. I adopted her for my daughter, who had been asking for "her own" puppy for many years. Her reasoning was that, while "Max was Daddy's dog and Candy was yours, Mom", she wanted one that was strictly hers. I countered with the argument, "But you already have two dogs." She wanted one that she could raise.
That poor little hound, with the adorable freckles that sprinkled her nose, and had merle markings on her back that resembled patches from an Australian Cattle Dog, was hacking up half a lung with a rather severe case of "kennel cough", or in medical terms, bortadella. She had only received her first set of shots, and had only arrived at the animal league two days prior to our visit. She had only gone out on the floor, a few hours before we arrived.
Nobody really seemed interested in the coughing puppy. It wasn't for lack of cuteness; this dog is the most adorable little creature I think I have ever laid eyes upon. Nope; it was because she was ill. Instantly, I wanted to adopt her, but I would never let my daughter know that. I wanted her to pick out the dog that she wanted. I wanted the dog for all the wrong reasons; she was the one nobody wanted, because she was different. I am drawn to the "underdog", no pun intended. (She was actually in a cage that was on the top row, so she was rather an "over dog" lol.)
My daughter actually zeroed in on the puppy immediately. We had seen a dog who so resembled Max, during our tour, that we wanted him, until the kennel workers explained that he had Parvovirus, and that it could be deadly to our ten year old golden retriever, who was still reeling from the death of her bunk mate. So that left Liam out of the running for "new pack animal". Bree asked one of the kennel workers if she could take Luna out of the crate, and from that moment on, she did not let the dog back into the cage. Immediately, three separate families expressed desire for her. My daughter, ever the fighter, held tightly to the puppy and confirmed, "She is mine."
I had quite a bit of schmoozing to do to win over my husband, especially since he was home, and I was making the decision without his first meeting the puppy. As anyone from North Shore knows, however, they will not release an animal from their shelter until they know, full well, that the animal will be accepted by all parties in the home. They also ask for references. It is like a very formal job application; you are applying for the position of dog owner for a committment of approximately ten to fifteen years, maybe longer. It is a big responsibility.
Brianna said she was up for the challenge, wanted to take care of the dog, and she promised, "I will do whatever it takes; I want to take her home tonight." I felt this was so premature; Max had only passed, a few weeks earlier, I was still not certain she had grieved properly, and I was not sure how my husband would react to another dog in the house, especially after we had firmly stated that there would be no more dogs in the home until we were sure. Loss of a beloved pet leaves one grieving for long periods of time; animals are parts of our "pack", and their loss leaves a great, gaping hole in the hearts of those who are left behind.
Fast forward three weeks, and the puppy has grown to be loved by all of us. My husband, all six feet four inches of him, loves this puppy dearly. I have never seen him like this at all. He giggles at her "puppy racing" around the house, and he requests that she be brought to him in the mornings, if I am off to take a shower.
Responsibility has been fleeting for the senior in our home; she is off with friends, meeting boys, taking SATs, learning new things for her final year in high school, and has time to quickly plop a scoop of dog food into Luna's bowl, and is off. Once the newness has worn off, she has become her usual self, and the responsibility falls upon me, since I am now home for good, due to disability. Which is all good. I raised five dogs; I can raise this one, too. I have already taught her the commands, "Sit", "Stay", "Come", and "Leave it". She also is almost completely housebroken. She is an incredibly intelligent creature, and she is eager to please.
Don't tell my daughter, but I don't mind at all, raising this puppy. I am actually enjoying it; it's been quite some time since we've had the pleasure of a baby in the house, and I am reveling in every moment of it. I still tell Bree that she has to "let her dog out", and I wait with the puppy on the front stoop, when Bree pulls up from school in her car, and I say to Luna, "Look - Mommy's home!" But little does my daughter realize that I am "mommy" to the puppy, and that I'm going to have a hard time giving up that title, lol.
You may wonder how our golden is doing with the puppy. I am convinced that the time clock of Candy's life has been reset; she is playing with the puppy, and they are enjoying each others' company immensely. It is a pleasure to watch them as they steal each others' toys, wait for one to chase the other, and to rough house. I haven't seen this since Max was three and Candy was the infant. And the best part? Candy is getting her comeuppance - all those years, where she challenged Max's authority as top dog - Luna is challenging Candy. It's kind of funny, how life repeats itself.
I am a dog lover. When Bree mentioned that she might want to adopt a kitten, I was a little disappointed and a bit upset. My husband and I are severely allergic to cats, and so we had told her that it would be out of the question. When we realized that she needed something to give her focus and purpose, we offered a kitten (and we would have used benadryl and Allegra in order to get through the time with the cat) or a puppy. I am grateful that Bree chose a dog. Once a dog lover, always a dog lover.
We still have the neighborhood stray, Hunter, who comes to visit our house, twice a week, so we have a cat as well now. I love him, too. He waits to be fed, and then he crawls into my lap and purrs for an hour. I take benadryl after I see him, but he is a lot of fun as well. Animals, nature, all of life brings me such joy. I am happy to be the one to rescue and save those who cannot save themselves.
So, Luna makes five in our home, and it is going to be quite an experience. She takes leaps off the bed, she is teething like crazy, and it's loads of fun. Buckle your seat belts, Servidio family - it's going to be a grand, wild ride!
"We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals... In a world older and more complete than ours they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth." ~ Henry Beston