My eyes hurt, my sinuses hurt, my heart hurt, and I was exhausted. I had just put my distraught daughter into our bed so that she could fall asleep crying without disturbing her brother. We had assured both of our children that we would get another dog, promising our daughter that the dog would not be named "Sierra." She had found a spot on her dresser for Sierra's collar so that she could remember her forever. I came downstairs to find my husband coping with our loss the only way he knew how.
He was looking online to find puppies.
After nearly 12 years we had some serious adjustments to make. As I made mac and cheese for the kids I kept thinking "I'm going to put these on their little table downstairs because it has been a long day, but I'll have to be careful to watch out for the do..." Driving our daughter home from ballet two days later I choked up as I realized that I didn't have to hurry home to let out the dog before we headed to our daughter's dance performance at a basketball game. Our son was still purposely spilling things on the floor for the dog to pick up, only Sierra wasn't there and we had to tell him to pick it up himself. We dropped things while cooking in the kitchen and then looked for a dog getting in our way, but she wasn't there. I kept planning to take my daily walks, but discovered that walking by myself, without a dog in tow, was more than a little lonely.
The kids kept asking questions about Sierra, our three year old son still struggling with understanding that she was really gone. They asked if Sierra was in heaven. Our son asked when Sierra was coming home. And then he would repeatedly say "We don't have a dog anymore."
We said we needed time to heal. My sister and a dear friend and coworker said we needed to take the time to heal and decide what we were going to do next.
But what we all wanted (and needed) was something furry to love.
That first night when my husband was looking at puppies he found "the one." I wasn't ready to discuss it. I needed time. I felt like I owed it to Sierra to take our time. But the house felt empty. We had been talking about getting a second dog for years. Huskies are pack animals and we had discussed getting a second dog when we first brought her home. But two years later we moved to Indy and into a basementless house that was only 1200 square feet. There was no room to crate train a puppy. So we gave up on the idea. And the older Sierra got and the more set in her ways she got, the less likely she was to welcome a new puppy into her home. As she got older we talked about the inevitable and the fact that our kids were going to need to a puppy of their own when that happened. When it did happen, we discovered that there is a very big difference between knowing something is going to happen and dealing with the emotional fallout when it actually happened.
Then we started looking at pictures. I started remembering my Sierra when she was healthy and happy and I started wondering how long was long enough to wait. There was also timing to consider. When we got Sierra I was on my summer vacation. I had time to train her and develop a relationship with her before she would spend long days by herself at our house. I kept saying we needed to wait until summer, or at least until the snow was all gone.
But summer is four months away and my husband couldn't let go of the puppy nicknamed "Fuzzy." It was an animal rescue dog and he couldn't stop talking about her. And our kids kept asking about when we were going to get a puppy. They missed having a dog and they wanted a dog that was theirs.
So last night we picked up "Fuzzy." She has been renamed Bella, after Clarabelle's dog on Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. I wasn't ready to fall in love again, but as she sat next to me on the couch last night I realized that we need her as much as she needs us.
The hole is still there. We still miss our Sierra, but we are hoping that Bella will help make our house feel whole again. And from the messages I'm getting from my husband who is working at home today, it sounds like she will do just that.