Our family grew by two this past year.
Quite honestly it’s a fact I’m still wrapping my mind around as I recognize our furry family member count is now equal to that of the humans which reside in our home. Making it all the more interesting, the one with the most seniority is a Burmese cat, Fluffy Cupcake.
She came to live with us in early 2012. It was an unplanned acquisition, most especially since mom is allergic to cats. A trip to Petco to retrieve guinea pig food somehow found me carrying a rescue cat out, with a beaming four-year-old at my side. Fluffy Cupcake is my daughter’s cat. The crazy things we do for kids.
Last Christmas Eve we lost our beloved Willow to the Rainbow Bridge. I shared about it in this space, as I struggled with the notion of my trusted companion no longer at my side. A family member who gently taught my two children how to love a pet. A family member who caught my tears the first time my children left to visit their father. A family member who regardless of what type of day we had was always happy to see us and love on us. Quite simply, she was an Angel dog. She was also a rescue, who spent 10 amazing years in our family.
Just prior to her passing, I was able to make a wish come true for my son by way of adopting a pug, Abby. Abby came into our lair just two weeks prior to Willow taking her final breath. Abby is an Angel dog as well. As our hearts continued to beat with hurt, we couldn’t help but feel grateful for the quirky little rescue we had taken in as a Christmas gift to my son. Funny how life works.
When my son was a toddler, his father and I owned a pug who passed shortly after my daughter was born. My son longed for another pug ever since. So as Christmas grew closer and my son struggled with what he might actually want, I decided I knew the perfect gift – in comes Abby.
Historically pugs don’t stay at shelters for long. Rescuing one seemed a long shot. Thanks to Social Media and a simple Facebook post, a friend located Abby in Manteca and well, the rest is history. Well, not completely.
The full story is I tricked my children into going with me to the Manteca shelter, claiming my boyfriend’s dog had gotten out and he needed us to check all shelters as he was out of town. There was actually a family ahead of us whom had expressed an interest in Abby so I didn’t have the heart to tell them until I knew for sure. Since we happened to be at the shelter I told the kids we might as well love on some dogs, makes sense right?
Still not knowing why we were really there, my son fell in love with Abby instantly. One problem, we were number two. That is until the true spirit of Christmas was gifted to our family. The couple who had expressed an interest ahead of us, graciously shared they felt we should have her. Abby is a fawn pug and they had hoped for a black one.
As we loved on Abby and slowly adjusted to our home without my Willow, I realized something was missing. Abby had done her job and was 100 percent my son’s dog. We actually tease and say she’s more of a companion dog than a pet. So in late spring I came to realize it was the first time in my adult life I was minus a dog.
I’m a dog person and every monumental moment in my adult life has been shared with a four legged family member – until early this year. I shared with my boyfriend I missed seeing a pup sleeping at my feet or my side. I even missed the conversation. They are after all the best company and listeners.
In early August I had the gift of helping a sweet black lab deliver a litter of 10 pups. Pup number nine would eventually go home with me – Charlotte.
Charlotte was the runt and from the minute I helped mom getting her to take a breath, I was hooked. She’s also my first lab, as well as my first pup.
Christmas this year promises to be interesting, at minimum memorable, but we could not be more happy. Our tree will look a bit different, as we stay mindful of the curiousness of our most recently acquired family member. A small tree on a table top is definitely in order.
The sting of the absence of Willow is still felt in our family. I imagine it will be for quite some time. Fortunately, we have the energy of a four-month-old puppy eager to play with a patient pug and a cat who still can’t figure out why this large black thing is still in our home.
Merry Christmas, regardless of the leg count which may occupy your home; wishing you the merriest and happiest of healthy holidays.
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.