I wrote this the day after we brought Juniper home, basically for my own notes, so I could keep all the details straight. If you enjoy long sagas of pet adoption, read on. Otherwise, skip ahead for p u p p y p i c t u r e s
It was always* the plan that our next dog would be a puppy, and that we’d get a second dog once Cody was in the last third-ish of his life. He turned eight in May, and heelers tend to live for 12-16 years. My sister, who got a young dog that all of us love in August of last year, asked about it when she was visiting. I told her that we would start thinking about it when Cody was older. She said, “Well, you don’t want to have a puppy and an elderly dog at the same time. And you want Cody to have a few years playing with the puppy!” And suddenly I realized she was right?! And started frantically looking for a rescue puppy. Not out of any immediate need for a puppy, but because that’s how I do things – urgently, and with intense strategy and determination. Lately I’ve been saying about myself “I’m a long-game-player and I play to win.” I love having a task and figuring out how to accomplish it. I’m this way about housing, jobs, animals, cars. I make up my mind – and then I (work really diligently and) get what I want! This conversation with my sister took place at my neighborhood block party on July 7, and exactly two weeks later, Nathaniel and I brought home an 8-week-old puppy from a breeder outside Eugene.
*Truthfully, we never wanted to be people who had two dogs, but when I would think about Cody dying – and coming home to a dog-less house, starting the search for a puppy while grieving the enormous loss of my first dog, bringing home a dog who would never know Cody or have the chance to pick up on his behavior and personality traits – I knew I wanted there to be some overlap.
For two weeks I spent approximately every minute of every waking hour checking Petfinder for puppies with any mixture of border collie and Australian shepherd. I applied for a beautiful border collie mix, from a reservation, in Colorado. A super adorable Aussie mix in Oregon City. A border collie/lab mix in Yakima, part of a litter that had been discovered living in a shed on someone’s property. And then I’d compulsively check the rescue organizations’ Facebook pages, and feel crushed when I saw that there were tons of comments on a dog’s picture before it even became available, with people saying they were watching and waiting for the listing so they could apply. And then the puppies would be adopted before I ever heard anything back. (Social media didn’t play such a huge role when I’d last been looking to adopt an animal, and boy, things have changed.) When a litter of puppies at the Oregon Humane Society showed up on Petfinder one morning, I made the mistake of heading over. When we arrived, there was literally a line of people waiting to adopt the last remaining puppy – all the others had been adopted that day. What I learned is that I’m bad at this! I always root for the underdog (lol), and when something is really popular and in-demand, I tend to side-eye it rather than join in enthusiastically. I felt (and still feel!) some significant guilt over looking for a female dog who was in the puppy stage.
I know Craigslist is generally not to be trusted in terms of animals, but eventually I looked anyway. I emailed about some Australian shepherd puppies out in the gorge, but I didn’t really want a purebred dog, and the parents both looked like big dogs from their pictures. I went to an adoption event at a PetSmart near my work, and got really sad playing with some older pointer mix puppies. I went home. Lying on my couch bummin out, I saw an ad for “Aussiedoodle” puppies in the town where I work, laughed hard at the price… and then a few hours later texted Nathaniel half-jokingly asking if I could put down a deposit on one of these newborn puppies that would be ready to go home the last week of August. The next day (Saturday), I actually did it. The deposit was fully refundable, and we figured, why not meet some baby animals and see if they make us feel like turning into people who pay small fortunes for ~designer dog~ puppies?
While he was at work that day, Nat and I talked on the phone and looked into it more. I wanted to know more about the dad, and in researching him I found out that there was another litter of puppies fathered by him, outside of Eugene, ready to go home that weekend. One was still available, and a girl, and exactly the dog I’d been picturing for us – mostly black (Nathaniel really wanted an all-black dog) with really pretty markings. I couldn’t believe she hadn’t been spoken for. I emailed instantly. And when I heard back, it was from a woman I used to work with at the library!! I’m a very “meant to be” kind of person and this was totally meant to be.
The next day (Sunday), we drove down to Eugene and spent an afternoon playing with puppies. Cody came, too, and he did such a good job meeting, like, fifteen baby and young dogs. He’s always been kind of a loner – never very interested in other dogs, admittedly probably because when we were living in Kansas he spent very little time around other dogs. We were super impressed with the set-up they had there, and felt really reassured talking to the breeder. We went to lunch nearby (this wonderful restaurant in a church called Our Daily Bread) and talked about it a lot, and then went back and paid for little June. Even though we had two big trips planned for the fall/winter, this summer seemed like a really good time for us to add a puppy to our life. Whether or not that’s true, it’s too late to go back now!
So now Juniper has been with us for three months. She is very sweet and unbearably adorable. As busy and tiring as the first half of this year was, the second half so far has proven to be just as exhausting, and really hard emotionally. June quickly taught me things of such great importance, and she’s been a comfort and a joy during a really challenging time of life. It’s true that I can’t wait for the time when I don’t have to drive home on my lunch break to visit her four days a week, and maybe we weren’t totally ready for the craziness of a puppy, but I’m so happy she’s here.