It’s been one week since we welcomed the newest addition to our family — Levi Saunders. He’s a squirmy, six-pound Havanese puppy who has a face that can melt even the hardest of stares. Not that anyone’s face is hard here. We’re all gushing with love and tenderness, even amid the new responsibilities and schedule.

My son Casey has been asking for a dog since he was six years old. Well, at first he wanted a baby brother but there was no negotiating there. “That’s not happening for all sorts of reasons,” I’d tell him. “Well how about a puppy then?” I ought to have realized then that the kid had a real knack for negotiation.

“Maybe.”

Maybe was the truest answer I could offer.

What I didn’t let on was my fear over loving and someday losing again. Loss of a pet is not the same as loss of a husband or father. Still, I resisted for several years, not able to bear the risk and hurt for myself or my children. I rationalized all of this because Casey and his twin sister Rebecca were young; let’s wait until you’re older, maybe 12.

And so it was in their 12th year that I followed through. The twins are better able to help care for a dog now and it isn’t just the three of us any longer.  We’re settled now. Readers know that I remarried in 2008 and that Steve and I have blended our families. Levi is the love puppy our union has produced. Everyone helps. And the love we feel is greater because it is shared.

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A new friend and I were talking about all of this over breakfast the other morning. She, too, lost her husband at a young age. At the time, her children were 12 and 14. The couple had a dog but he was sick and died soon after the husband’s tragic ski accident. My friend did the exact opposite thing I did. Right away she got another dog. And then when that dog died, another.

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There is no right or wrong. We go where we need to go.

I’m so happy and grateful that Levi is part of our lives today. In ways that have surprised me, he removes the sting of past losses, keeping us grounded to the present.

Speaking of…gotta run. Levi’s chewing my shoe.

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