Those of you who know me will remember that we lost our beloved Australian Shepherd, Piper, after fifteen years.
Some find the grief overwhelming and are unable to cope with the thought of another pet.
Others cannot cope with the gaping hole left, the empty home, empty heart, looking around every corner and in every room expecting that dearest friend to be there. This was us—my daughter, my husband, me, crying, locked together by the pandemic, by grief, by that yawning chasm of emptiness.
We thought we would adopt. We thought, knew, that after the caregiving required for Piper that an older dog in need of a home would be a better fit for us. We had been warned, however, about the difficulties of adopting a breed such as an Australian Shepherd for those living in a townhome with only a porch and no yard, but we are good people. Piper was treated like the princess she was. We took her to the beach three to four times a week for leash-free running and swimming, and she probably ate better than we did. When it came to medical care, no expense was spared. We found a beautiful little female in Texas that sounded perfect for us even though, when we learned about the surgical maintenance required for an ongoing health issue, a little voice inside my head questioned whether our hearts could take it after everything we had been through with Piper. Even after reading that all family members would have to show up to be “vetted” by the adoption agency, we were okay with that. We figured we would have spent the price of those three round-trip airfare tickets—we live in Florida—if we had bought a dog, but no matter, without that yard, we were undesirable.
We picked her up last weekend in rural Georgia, and she’s been entertaining us ever since. If Pearl were human, she’d be the class clown. She doesn’t mind that we crack up when she flips herself tail over teakettle chasing after a toy. She’s not offended that we can’t stop laughing at the way she slides across the tile floor like a major leaguer sliding into home base or that she dramatically falls down, legs splayed behind her like a rabbit when she’s tired. She’s just happy to have people, a family to replace the mom, brothers, and sisters she’s slowly beginning to forget.
I cried again over Piper this morning. I still miss her so much. Another dog doesn’t take her place, but Pearl is sure keeping us busy, busy enough to cry maybe a few less tears.
And we’re just grateful she’s able to fill a little of that space.
The one only a dog can fill.