Thursday, April 16, 2020

Puppy Size? It's that time of year

Many of you, like me, are stuck indoors right now as we wait out the COVID-19 epidemic. We find ourselves looking at Facebook or the Internet more than normal, and even if already surrounded by dogs we love, it can be hard not to get "puppy fever" when we see beautiful litters of puppies advertised. My parti-colored Standard Poodle boy has recently sired a litter of pups, and I have been in touch with some prospective buyers recently to help the breeder find good homes for the puppies.

They ask questions about the size the pups are expected to be, the colors (and with a multi-colored litter with various sized dogs in the pedigree, these questions don't always have definitive answers!) Sometimes, I find myself networking with others to help them find the dog that is their heart's desire, and it can be very time-consuming. But in many ways, I envy these people, because they are having the enjoyment of looking for a new addition to their family, which will hopefully bring them joy for many years to come. I'm not sure when, if ever, I will have that joy again.

Then today, when looking back over some of my past articles, I found this one, which seemed worth sharing again. It might help some of us remember that, no matter the size, the breed, the color, or the fancy pedigree...sometimes the choice of a puppy, or even the feeling of joy, is a decision of the heart.

Puppy "Size"
Published a decade ago on my Knowing Dogs blog, but original author unknown

One of my training customers emailed this story to me, and it is one of the most precious puppy stories I have ever read.

'Danielle keeps repeating it over and over again. We've been back to this animal shelter at least five times. It has been weeks now since we started all of this,' the mother told the volunteer at the shelter.

'What is it she keeps asking for?' the volunteer asked.

'Puppy size!' replied the mother, in a frustrated tone.

'Well, we have plenty of puppies, even some medium and smaller sized ones, if that's what she's looking for..'

'I know..... We have seen most of them, ' the mom said in frustration...

Just then Danielle, the mom's eight year old, came walking into the office .

'Well, did you find one?' asked her mom.

'No, not this time,' Danielle said with sadness in her voice. 'Can we come back on the weekend?'

The two women looked at each other, and just shook their heads.

Danielle looked at the volunteer and appeared to be tearing up. 'Are you not open this weekend? Won't you have some more puppies?'

'You never know when we will get more dogs.. Unfortunately, there's always a supply,so we might have more puppies by the weekend' the volunteer said.

Danielle took her mother by the hand and headed to the door. 'Don't worry Mama, I'll find one this weekend,' she said.

Over the next few days, both Mom and Dad had long conversations with her. They both felt she was being too particular. Months before, they had taken her to see a litter of purebred Springer Spaniel puppies and she had acted the same way. They thought afterward, when she shared her feelings with them, that she simply wanted to find a smaller sized dog at an animal shelter. Every time a segment came on the television about homeless animals, her eyes would fill with tears and she would say, "Can we go look for my puppy soon?"

Tonight the conversation felt like a broken record, with Danielle simply saying she would know the right puppy when she saw it.

'It's this weekend or we're not looking any more,' Dad, frustrated, finally ended the conversation and the child went to bed looking chest-fallen.

'We don't want to hear anything more about puppy size, either,' Mom added.

Danielle ate her cereal quickly on Saturday morning, and cheerfully announced she was ready to go to the shelter. Dad thought it was too early, and decided to stay home, but Mom got dressed and once again took her beloved daughter to the local animal shelter.

It was early, and they were the first ones when the door opened at the shelter on that Saturday. By now Danielle knew her way around, so she ran right for the section that housed the smaller dogs.

Tired of the routine, Mom sat in the small waiting room at the end of the first row of cages. There was an observation window so you could see the animals during times when visitors weren't permitted. She pressed her face close to the window to watch her daughter.

Danielle walked slowly from cage to cage, kneeling periodically to take a closer look. One by one the dogs were brought out by a volunteer and she held each one. One by one she said, 'Sorry, but you're not the one.'

It was the last cage on this last day in search of the perfect pup. The volunteer opened the cage door and the child carefully picked up the dog and held it closely. When the fluffy black puppy was put in her arms, this time she took a little longer, so Mom turned the corner and walked into the adoption area.

'Mom, it's him! I found the right puppy! He's the one! I know it!' The child screamed with joy. 'It's the puppy size!'

'But honey, he's the same size as all the other puppies you have held over the last few weeks,' Mom said. 'Maybe even a bit bigger.'

'No Mommy, not SIZE... the sighs. When I held him in my arms, he sighed,' she said. 'Don't you remember? When I asked you one day what love is, you told me love depends on the sighs of your heart. The more you love, the bigger the sigh!'

The volunteer glanced at Mom, and the two women looked at each other for a moment. Mom didn't know whether to laugh or cry. As she stooped down to hug the child, she did a little of both, tears running down her cheeks as she laughed.

'Mom, every time you hold me, I sigh. When you and Daddy come home from work and hug each other, you both sigh. I knew I would find the right puppy if it sighed when I held it in my arms,' she said. Then, holding the puppy up close to her face, she said, 'Mom, he loves me. I heard the sighs of his heart!'

Close your eyes for a moment and think about the love that has made you sigh. We can find it not only find it in the arms of our loved ones but in the caress of a sunset, the kiss of the moonlight and the gentle brush of cool air on a hot day...the sighs of God. It's wonderful when it comes from one of our beloved dogs, but it's everywhere. Many of us, like my friend Patti Lucas pictured here, have heard the sighs of a foster dog when they first know they are safe. Perhaps you cannot add a pup to your home, but fostering an adult dog might bring you some sighs of joy.

But don't can look out the window today or even just around your room and see signs of God's sighs of love, when we thank Him for what He has given us.

Take the time to stop and listen; you may be surprised at what you hear.

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