Sunday, December 20, 2009

Snowed in...with my brand new golden!!

What a lovely weekend of surprises this has been.

God decided to blanket our little town in snow.

Well, actually, He threw a whole big afghan of snow on the entire Northeast. :)

Everybody's weekend plans became instantly dissolved, much like marshmallows in a mug of hot chocolate...or like the ice beneath the salt crystals I endlessly sprinkled.

This was the perfect weekend to get stuck at home because finally I wouldn't feel alone. I had a new friend to keep me company: Macy, my new golden retriever!

Her entrance into my life was quite unexpected, although I had been searching for quite a while to find the perfect canine companion.

She is a delightful surprise because--just when I was getting ready to make a financial commitment to adopt a purebred golden or saluki (with adult dog adoption fees ranging from $450 - $800, electric fences being required, and drop-by check-up visits being expected), God--in his fatherly guidance--told me, "No."

He let the numbers of my budget tell me that I could not afford to pay out that much cash for a purebred dog. It looked like--if I was going to have any dog at all--she would have to come from the pound.

And so...away went the possibility of Lady (the 4-year-old champion show saluki, who was $800), Cody (the 8-month-old golden retriever pup going for $600), and any of the other purebred goldens that were at golden retriever rescue centers across the Northeast (usually going for $450 up to $650).

And while I have been checking the Humane League and SPCA websites of various counties on a daily basis, golden retrievers are rare in those facilities, and--if they do show up--they are adopted within hours, as was my experience twice, when--both times--I couldn't get there fast enough.

So how did I end up with a beautiful purebred golden girl, laying now at my feet, so gentle as to be completely unaffected by the sounds of my doves?

Well, about a month ago, I called a golden retriever breeder that I found online. While most people want their purebreds as puppies, I explained that I was looking for an older dog with an established, calm personality.

And while they didn't have any they wanted to give away at the moment, they said they'd call me back in a few weeks, for they might have a dog that fit that description closer to Christmastime. And they would just give her to me for free, with no strings attached. Really? Incredible. My heart smiled. :)

On Friday, the Feast of the Expectation of Our Lady, my waiting was finally finished! I only had to drive 40 minutes, and there I found her, nestled in a small shed where--the breeder explained--she had spent her 6.5 years having litters of puppies "at least once a year" (which of course implies more).

I questioned, and the woman finally admitted to me that her last delivery was just 4 weeks ago, and she had only one pup. For this reason, they were ready to retire and get rid of her. If I changed my mind about wanting her, they explained, I could give her away to any golden retriever rescue place or have her "put down." Can you believe it? Soooo sad!

I had worried that a dog who didn't live with humans might lack socialization skills. But Macy is the sweetest thing, incredibly gentle and very loving!

As the vet explained, my poor girl is probably suffering from depression, as a result of having her puppy taken from her prematurely. Most puppies stay with their mother for 8 weeks. So sad! And I can only imagine that she is in pain, her underbelly being swollen with milk.

Hopefully, with my care, love, and the passage of time, precious Macy will feel better than she ever has!

It is neat how we both have the shared experience of lonesomeness and depression. Together we will build each other up and overcome it!

I have walked her around my neighborhood a million times already, and it is incredibly fun! Saturday morning was particularly magical; she woke me at 5 AM with a singular bark, and together we were the first in the neighborhood to go out and behold the beautiful, serene beginning to the snowfall which lasted all weekend.

I love coming back from our walks, my nose and cheeks pink from the cold, my heart feeling warmed by her love. Getting out more lets me see and appreciate more the neighborhood in which I live.

Her presence in my life gave me the chance to be in the right place at the right time to help a police officer push an elderly couple's car back onto the road (for it had slid off into a bank of snow).

She's the reason why I talked more to my neighbors this weekend than I have in any weekend previous, and perhaps that's why my neighbor lady invited me over for tea and Christmas cookies last night.

And she's the reason I was outside last night and was able to see--as we rounded the corner to my house--that a random man was snow blowing all my sidewalks for me. I ran up to thank him, and he introduced himself as the son of the woman who owns the big farm house and pasture behind me. What an incredible neighborhood I live in. I live in the kind of place where people will come over to help you rake leaves or shovel snow. Or they'll stop jogging to help you figure out the settings on your lawn mower. What a blessing it is to be here!

This morning, Mom and Dad came over to meet Macy and we walked across the street to go to Mass together. Mom was particularly excited to meet my dog and even gave a cute little Christmas bandanna (with a snowman pin on it) to her!

Then Dad and I operated my huge PennDOT-style, industrial-strength snow blower which honestly takes TWO people to operate (at least when you discover that one of the cables is broken and thus requires double the amount of hands to operate everything). Afterwards, I was covered in snow and soaking wet, but my arms and abs felt great from the workout.

My days of staying up late and sleeping in are over, and I welcome the change. I'll take my sleep pattern cues from Macy, and right now she's telling me that I ought to consider taking a nap before bed. :)