Fifteen years ago. A loss was a huge gain.
Can I come this morning?” I asked my friend Sharon, over the phone. She’d had a litter of standard poodles that were already 7 weeks old that I'd yet to see. Like me, she was a dog trainer and Standard Poodle lover; but time had gotten away from me and they were already at the perfect age to see. 7 weeks is a great age, you can really see their little personalities.
I was by no means in the market for a new puppy; our family was in the process of working with another breeder with regards to a new family member. I'd been working with Tilley's breeder and was to get a niece of hers. The particulars needed to be worked out; which puppy, how we would get her to California and everything else. The puppy was in Canada so it was going to be work to get her to California. We adored Tilley so of course we wanted another just like her.
I’d lost my boy Clyde only months earlier; a love of my life kind of guy. He was a brown Standard Poodle and it felt too early for me to think of getting another boy. Even though I have a huge soft spot for boys; I needed to get over the loss of my heart boy before thinking of another.
A time was set for the puppy visit. How lucky was I? Getting to visit a litter of puppies just for fun? It was most definitely my kind of way to spend an afternoon. When I arrived Sharon introduced me to the Mom of the litter. She was actually lying on the couch recovering from eclampsia or milk fever. She lifted her head and gave me a wag as I stroked her side. She was a dark blue in color so when I stepped out into the yard and saw two light colored puppies I immediately asked “what color was Dad?” "Apricot" Sharon said. There was only one apricot in the bunch, a male. The other light colored pup was a cream female. When I walked into the yard I could barely see the rest of the puppies as they were all asleep. They’d been up early that day because one puppy had already been shipped.
I stepped over the little sleeping bodies and proceeded to ask a lot of questions. This was a show prospect litter so we discussed who the pick of litter was in both male and female and why? The little apricot boy was the pick of males and she began to explain to me what set him apart from the others. Which is when he began his own explanation of why he was so special. To this day I have never seen a puppy do what he did. It was like he was a salesman and what he was selling was himself. He jumped around me, climbed up my legs, bit my hands and made it quite clear that he was different. There was a great deal of eye contact; he was focused in on me and the task at hand. The rest of the puppies continued to sleep while the little apricot man worked his magic. He was doing a job on me when I finally picked him up and held him at eye level. I jokingly asked him “do you want to come home with me?” He wriggled and licked my face as he continued the “buy me” routine as I placed him back onto the ground.
Sharon and I talked for a longtime that day. The rest of the litter finally woke up and said “hi” but it was only the little apricot boy who had stood out. It was so much fun playing with the litter of puppies and I hated to leave. But as the afternoon drew late, I had to head out before the really heavy traffic hit. I said good bye to the puppies, Mom and her other dogs and headed for home.
The ride home was a strange one. Sure it was fun to see the puppies but something had happened between that one little male and I. I couldn’t stop thinking about him for the hour ride home. “No, I’m not ready” I told myself as I pondered what had transpired. For some reason he had done a very good job of standing out; making himself unforgettable, at least to me. Before long I was home. Tilley, Jessie and I head out to the backyard where I watched as Tilley and Jessie wandered; until they came and sat by my side. Looking at Tilley I realized we already had a puppy in the works, a little silver girl. I tried to shake off the deep connection that I’d felt with that little apricot boy, but it was not to be.
That night I told my husband about the litter I’d met that day; but it was the little apricot boy who dominated the conversation. After listening to me go on and on and on about him; my husband asked “do you want that puppy?” “No, no, we are getting Tilley’s niece, remember?” I stated. He then said “it sounds like you really like that puppy.” I explained that I had but we’d already put another puppy into motion and I wasn’t ready for another boy, not yet. We put the puppy and the rest of the litter to rest as we both fell asleep.
I woke the next morning with one thing on my mind, the little apricot boy. “What the heck was going on?” I wondered to myself. I planned to call the breeder of the little lady we were to get that afternoon; just to be sure that everything was still a go. But I had several dog training sessions to get to in the morning before any calls would be made to Canada. After a nice long walk for Tilley and Jessie, I head out to my training appointments. A new client and a long time client back to back.
That afternoon after training I sat and made the call to Canada. There were still many things to figure out and of course which of the little ladies would be joining us. Everything changed during that phone call; plans began to unravel slowly. There was somehow a misunderstanding between the breeder and I. Over the next few weeks we tried to come to an agreement but it was not meant to be. Things that I put on the high important list were not agreed upon and by the end of a couple of weeks it had all fallen apart. A puppy was not coming from Canada, we would not be adding Tilley’s niece to our family.
During the weeks of puppy talks with Tilley’s breeder I had been plagued by thoughts of the little apricot puppy. I had been talking with my friend Sharon about him casually. I wondered if she still had him and she immediately knew that something was up. After the other puppy fell through, I wondered if “he” might be the one. Had everything fallen apart for a reason? Was the reason this little apricot man that I had met a few weeks earlier?
I felt defeated with the loss of the little girl we were going to call our newest family member. But at the same time I could not get the little guy out of my head. “Was I ready?” I asked myself over and over again. My heart was still aching from the loss of my brown boy. I didn’t think I was ready but I also could not stop thinking of that little man. He had somehow wriggled in and was not letting go.
Five weeks after a chance meeting, I made the call. Sharon picked up the phone and I blurted it out “do you still have that apricot puppy?” I could hear the smile in her voice when she said “yeeeesssss, I do.” She knew that he was meant to be mine the day we’d met. She hadn’t been in a rush to sell her puppies and was waiting for the perfect homes for them. She obviously knew that I was interested as I had sent so many emails “just wondering” about him.
Two days later we were on our way. With a very small crate in the back of the truck we headed out to Huntington Beach to pick up our gorgeous blonde surf dude.
Our lives changed forever on that day. November 2000 was a very special time in my life. I cannot believe that fifteen years have passed. Sometimes things don't work out; but something better happens because of it. No we didn't get Tilley's niece but we did add Luke to our family because of it. A loss was indeed a gain for us; because without that loss we would have never had fourteen and half amazing years with Luke.
I am currently working on a very special book that started out as three separate books; but has now been woven into one. I hope to publish it sometime in 2016.