October 2, 2010

I am going to name my next dog Wisconsin.  All of my dogs are named after places.  The Goldens after states, the Red dogs after cities.  Each one of them has a name that represents a place in our lives that is significant.  Our first dog’s name is Carolina.  Bob and I met in South Carolina.  And though we have a “Virginia,” we never actually lived in Virginia.  We pass through it a few times a year on our way to Massachusetts to visit my mother, whose middle name is Virginia.

The full name of Boston, our oldest “boy,” an Irish Setter, is Celtic’s River Charles.  Remember the song, “. . . down by the River Charles – Boston you’re my home.”  Memphis, Memphis’s full name is Celtic’s Mississippi Delta.  Technically, the Mississippi Delta begins in Illinois and extends to the Gulf of Mexico; but a famous quote places the beginning of the delta in the lobby of the Peabody Hotel in Memphis, Tennessee.  I grew up in Peabody, Massachusetts, so Memphis has a connection to both Peabody and Tennessee, where Bob lived and where he still works.

Bob and I got married in Wisconsin.  It is not where we started; it is where we restarted.  When the plant in South Carolina closed, he was transferred to Wisconsin. We went there to wait.  We stayed until the time was right for the company to go back into manufacturing.  It took three years, two months and fourteen days.

So we came to Tennessee to build a new plant.  It was a new beginning.  Naming our next dog Wisconsin gave birth to that new beginning.  Bob restarted the plant, following its bankruptcy, and I got to start over with a new Golden Retriever.

I was going to buy a dog from a breeder in Illinois.  Yes, I said, buy a dog from a breeder.  I believe we have been over this.  I want to support the demand for high quality, purebred dogs.  You see, I do not want to adopt a dog that was born as the result of someone being irresponsible.  What?  Maybe it doesn’t make sense, but it’s my choice.  I was on a list twice for a puppy, but both times it didn’t work out.

Not too long after that, I was at a friend’s dog training facility when I saw her.  She was small, lean, strong and fast.  There were several Goldens there that day, but none that looked like her.  The family who owned (and still owns) her was having difficulty managing her.  They considered re-homing her. I told her I would love to have her, but I don’t title my dogs.  I never heard from them, but I did get the name of her breeder. She is located in Wisconsin.


Getting a new dog has been a difficult process for me.  If I could have what I really want, I would have Virginia back.  Is it okay to want to replace her?  Can she be replaced?  What does it mean to replace a dog?  While I have waited, I have asked myself these questions over and over.

I want a Golden that is small, lean, strong and fast – like Virginia.  But all my dogs are small, lean, strong and fast.  That’s not it.  Virginia was my companion.  We did everything together.  I want another dog who wants to do those same things.  But I know there is no guarantee that a puppy is going to like to do agility training, Frisbee and dock diving.  I was hoping “the boys” would like those things, but they don’t.  So that’s not it, either.

No, this puppy is a new beginning.  A fresh start.  She will have no history.  She will not be born by mistake, then dumped because she was unwanted. She will be created by intention, to be loved by someone who wants her; someone who loved her, even before she was conceived.  She will start her life happy.  She will have reason to smile and greet each day with joy and excitement. 

Do souls come back to earth?  Is there anything wrong with wishing and believing they do?  If a soul could choose, would they come back as whom they were in a previous life?

I have so many people tell me they would like to come back as one of my dogs.  What if there’s a line?  Could one of those people, someone I barely know, be in line ahead of Virginia?  Could my next dog have the soul of an unhappy, mean person?  Oh, no . . . no way! Virginia would cut.  We did this all the time.  I cannot wait for my turn in line and neither could she.  If there was a line of souls waiting to be born into my life, Virginia would be first. I just know it.

I cried today when I saw a Golden Retriever that needed a home.  She looked a lot like Virginia.  I thought that maybe the person who was trying to find her a home would let her come home with me.  But, no.  Someone else wants her, someone who titles their dogs.  I could see she is a wonderful dog, one that loves people and other dogs.  She smiled at me and licked my face.  We got to play a while.  She picked through a toy basket and found a toy for me to throw.  She retrieved it a few times, but stopped.  She saw something I couldn’t see.  I looked in the same direction, but didn’t know what it was.  It was time for me to leave.

I miss my dear Virginia.  I miss her every day.  I wish I had a dog to fill her spot.  The dogs I have each have their own spot.  They are all different, and they are all the same.  They all have names of places I have been.  They are all small, lean, strong and fast.  I bought each one of them.  I have tried.  I would like to adopt our next dog, but that just doesn’t feel right to me.  No, I will have to wait for her to be born.  She will mark a new beginning.  Only a puppy can fill the spot left vacant by Virginia.  She will be born intentionally.  If our next dog does not have the soul of Virginia, I know this: she will have the soul of a Golden Retriever.  A Golden Retriever who will smile and greet each day with joy and excitement.


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