There was that big old hole in my heart, then along came Herbie.
No one can ever replace my dear Luke, my boy, my sweet dog who we lost so suddenly last May, but Herbie is doing his best and that hole is shrinking rapidly.
Joe didn’t really want another dog because of the freedom of coming and going without worry for a pet left at home. I felt the unconditional love that comes from owning a dog makes it worth it. Without the dog, the house, our new house, just felt sort of incomplete.
A phone call from dear friends from Philadelphia tipped the scales right before Christmas. “How’s the new house? I guess all it’s missing is a three letter word beginning with “d” and ending with “g.” That was the opening and what followed was a 15-minute lecture on what a dog adds to the quality of life. What choice, after that, did Joe have?
So, the day after Christmas we were off to the Friendship Animal Protective League, where one of our friends volunteers. I had scoured their website for months and had picked out Heidi, a boxer/pit mix who was five years old and had been at the shelter for many weeks.
They took us into a room with her and she was nice — but lacked the Luke luster. (In all fairness, she had just met us.) Greg Wiley, who runs the shelter, came and sat with us and told us the biggest problem we would have is that she rips up toys. So did Luke, so I was all right with that. He then suggested we walk around the kennels to see if there was “anyone” else we were interested in.
We walked by sad faces, eager faces, and sleeping faces.
Then there was Herbie, looking up at us with furrowed brow, wondering if we might take a longer look at him. They took him out of the kennel and I, still thinking of Heidi, said, “Well, we’ll have to see how he is around children” (due to grandchildren). As if on cue, a family marched through the door, including a five-year-old and a 10-year-old. Herbie was delighted and went right over to deliver gentle kisses. That answered the question.
It was clear that Joe was taken with Herbie and I knew it would be smart to give in to his choice. He was the one
My daughter and I went back to the room where they were keeping Heidi for us and I held it together until we got there, then burst into a flood of tears. I felt like we were letting her down. My heart was so set on rescuing a long-timer like Luke had been, a boxer-pit mix like Luke had been, that I could not control my sobs.
Back at the desk, filling out the papers allowing us to adopt Herbie, tears were still streaming down my face, which confused a lot of people. Shouldn’t I be happy to be taking home a gem like Herbie?
I later learned that 20 minutes after we left, a family came and adopted Heidi, so happy endings all the way around!
Meanwhile, Herbie has been an affectionate, funny, handsome addition to Robin Lane. We discovered early that he had not been house trained. That led to many walks where he got to know all of the neighbors and workmen on the street and now he has his special ways of letting us know he has to go out. At first, he cowered when Joe would try to pet him, leading us to believe that in his past a man had been mean to him. Now he follows Joe around and welcomes their playing sessions.
At first, he did not even know what a toy was. Joe rolled a tennis ball toward him and he hid behind my leg. Now her relishes Joe throwing that blasted ball for him. He chases with such speed, returns, drops it after a brief keep-away and is eager to chase the next one. He adopted a Christmas pillow, a Frosty the Snowman replica, which he cuddled up to and even hugged to the point that I’ve decided to leave it out year-round. He’s settling beautifully into routine, or at least as much of one as our crazy rehearsal laden lives will allow. His enthusiastic greetings when we come home are heart-warming, though we get beat up from the tail wagging.
We’ve never crated a dog when we are away but were advised to by both Wiley and our vet. That’s some advice that Herbie is clearly not in agreement with. He’s proved to be a champion escape artist, one time bringing the police to our house when he busted out of the crate, propped his front paws up on the counter, and set off the motion sensor. He’s not much of a fan of being left alone, which is definitely something to work on, but at least for now I am so very glad to have him at home with us.
I’ll never forget our Luke, but Herbie’s a doll. Our 60-pound, two-year-old greyhound/pharaoh hound adoptee has become a heart hole-filler and I think we’ve helped to heal him too from shelter life and whatever else he experienced before we made him part of our family.
If you want or even need a dog, go to a shelter. Adopted animals know they have been saved and show appreciation is a myriad of ways, Change a life. It will change yours too.
Pat Gorske Price graduated from Oberlin High School and taught English and drama there for 12 years. In retirement she continues to enjoy writing and theater. Comments can be made to firstname.lastname@example.org.