Part Two of a Two Part Tail

My husband has wanted out loud to get second dog at least 20 times in the past two years.
He's always rooting for his favorite breeds: small, with flat faces and lots of wrinkles.

My stance has never wavered. We are not getting another dog.

I always had all the sensible answers to cool off his new-dog longings.
But the truth was no secret with that giant "closed for business" sign on the front door since losing Nemo. 

I didn't understand what the big difference was this time when my husband brought up the dog subject, again.
It took the whole process playing out for me to realize what happened. It was like a whirlwind.  

In hindsight I know now that this last dog conversation wasn't about what my husband wanted. It was about what he knew was good for me. It was about him knowing that I'm not quite complete without a big dog, and recognizing that this was never going to happen unless someone lovingly started pushing me through the layers of hurt that were holding me back. 

When I heard "great dane" and "mastiff" come out of his face, I knew this was some serious stuff.

My husband was not working alone, either. God's peaceful driving moved me to places (and breeder searches) I would not have sought being the stubborn girl who had already made a life decision about this big dog thing.

Apparently, the great dane and bullmastiff that I dreamed of were not the dogs for me. We can find breeders of just about any dog where we are located, and there was not a one reputable, safe-looking find that I could rest in within 150 miles for either breed.

How exactly we started looking for Boxers, I don't remember. We've both always loved them. I guess I just assumed because of their looks that they were somehow dangerous.
Once we looked into them though, all my uneducated assumptions crumbled.

A people dog
Devoted to family
Awesome with kids
Fearless and courageous
Good guard dogs
Highly tolerant
Extremely adaptable

We were able to find multiple breeders in our area.

We did our credibility research, and once we were confident about our selection we were making a call and scheduling a visit!!! My husband was being very lovingly pushy by that point.
I was shaking my head, hitting my knees, warning my husband that I may pull the chord at any second if I felt like we needed to backpedal...

and through the immediate rushing waves of fear, the memories of past, the guilt of betrayal to my Nemo, the worry that I wasn't ready to love this dog the way I wanted to love my next dog... there was such a peace and a "yes" that moved my fingers and my mouth and my feet outside of my own will.

On the way to the breeder's I slowed the reeling of my flesh and fearfully turned to God. This is one of those things between us... you know those things you don't really want to look Him in the eye over?
I sought His face, and in mid-prayer received a beautiful confirmation.

When we walked into the kennel, I knew her at first sight.

Greg had explained to Zeek that we were getting a dog for our family, but it was going to be Mommy's dog for the choosing. They stood back and honored that promise as I picked her up and lost myself.

The breeder mama described her as the most submissive of the bunch, and the largest of her litter, born double in size to her brothers and sisters. She also told me how sweet and loving she is, and how she was the one she wanted to keep for herself.

She shared with us our puppy's Mom and Dad.

Duke Rebel Hooch:

the brown one 

Sugar Diamond Christie:

I made sure my new baby said good-bye to her Mommy.

We paid and signed the AKC registration, received her medical records, took one last look at her adorable family, and walked with our dog to our Jeep.

I could hardly stand.
I held her and cried the first 10 minutes of our 40 minute ride home.

Most of the following 24 hours with my dog were spent on a roller coaster of emotion. I knew she'd unlocked the "dog love" door, I just was not ready for what it was going to feel like, walking in.

I'm going to doubt anyone in my life thought more of it than I was cuddling, dancing with, singing to and all around getting aquatinted with my new puppy. 

But the way she reminds me... the bittersweet way the love crashes into the longing and the awe and joy collide with the pain of his memory. 
The puppy's constant snuggling in, with sweet loyal attachment soothes my aching through God's healing, and the soft puppy kisses cushion the tenderness of my hurts.

And I notice how only God could have made this happen this way.
How He knew all along what I had no suspicion of.

What a blessed surprise!


A Two Part Tail

When he died he took a piece of me with him. 

I thought that, like with any other loss, time would heal. But time has not made a dent. 

Thankfully, I was at peace with his passing. 
He smiled wider than ever on his last day. 

I cried harder than I have ever cried in my life. 
My spirit mourned. 

And although I disobeyed God in keeping (and maybe even getting) my pit bull, Nemo, God blessed me in that I don't just remember Nemo with my mind, but with all my senses. 

I remember the way it felt to look into his eyes and know that my everything hidden and deep down away was well understood. 
The way it felt to sit on the floor and wrap my arms up and around his big neck. 
To feel his chin push into my shoulder. 
The way the little flaps at the corners of his ears were so soft -a perfect fit for the balls of my thumbs when I rubbed his head. 
I remember every trace of the bones and muscle under his warm soft coat. 
The way he smelled. 
The way his giant clumsy paws would stomp my wrist or leg while he tried to figure out how we could get closer than physically possible. 

Somehow, when I close my eyes to dream him up 
I can remember him, exactly as if he were right here. 

I swore all kinds of incredibly sad and wrong things when I drove away from the building he lay to rest in, three years ago. I shut tight my love-for-dogs door, and I walked away "better to have loved and lost then never to have loved at all". 

I decided for myself, in honor of my love (and guilt) for Nemo, that all the dogs left were just dogs from there on, and my heart for them was closed. 

A year later we got her:

We took Yuki home knowing God's blessing was on us in our adoption of her. Knowing she would be our sweet girl for a long long time. And I enjoyed her at best in the beginning. 
I was grateful for my son to have his puppy after what he'd been through. 

Over the years Yuki has made her way in me. Nothing like Nemo-love, but a very special brand of Yuki-love. She's not really a "dog" in my eyes. She's a gift. A Bugg born the day I said good-bye to my Nemo on earth, forever. 
She's my little girl. My sweet lady. 

And she's my son's dog. 

I have thought about having a big dog again. When I'm all grown up, and I'm light years away from the cracked up broken mess behind the caution tape and deadbolt closed door. 

I dream of my late-in-life dog, how he would sniff and romp around in the reeds while I fish, lay on the front porch while I watch the sunset and reflect back on my long and beautiful life... how he would be there, sharing in the place where Nemo once filled completely. How my heart would prayerfully be available again, so I could love him and let him love me.

Those dreams and my vivid memories of Nemo are what have gotten me by without a dog of my own.

To be continued...