As I've spent countless hours these past weeks considering a name for this new dog of mine, my mother, Grace, keeps coming to mind.
My mom loved dogs.
Doted on them
Fed them snacks
Took them for walks
And talked to them as most people only talk to their very best friends.
But in her whole life, my mom owned just one dog.
Granted, he was a champ. Hillpoint Shamrock Kelly, the hero of Ore Lake, was the Irish Setter of my childhood and my mother's beloved companion during a very difficult time in her life. He was, as she often said, the dog of dogs and after he died, she never wanted another.
I understood that. Losing a dog you love is a heartbreak that only other dog lovers can understand. It's painful beyond words and we all have that moment of grief where we think, No. This is too much. I was a fool to fall in love with a creature who lives ten years if I'm lucky, And I will never put my heart in harm's way like this again.
But this desperation usually passes.
And we remind ourselves that the joy of a dog's company is worth the pain, and the tears we cry are simply proof of our dog's unquestioning devotion and boundless love.
So when the time is right, we open our hearts to a new dog and life goes happily on.
But not for my mom.
She loved her grand dogs, and often enthusiastically told me stories about good dogs she met here and there.
But she never, ever got another dog.
And that always made me sad for her.
* * * * *
I will be honest. When this new dog came into my life, I was not ready for her. Barely six months had passed since I lost my Ranger and my heart was still full of his memories. I figured I needed another year to made room for a new pup.
But what could I do? Here was a dog - an Irish Setter, for crying out loud - who needed me. I had no logical reason to turn her down. Still, a fearful voice inside me pleaded, No! This is crazy. I'm not ready for this yet.
And that's when my mom came to my mind. What she reminded me, in a gift straight from heaven, is to not be afraid.
She reminded me to trust.
She reminded me that putting your heart on the line for a big red dog is always worth the risk.
And she encouraged me to take the flying leap into this new dog's life.
So I did.
And now, to remind myself of my mom's gifts, I've given my new dog her name.