Yesterday Greg and I spent most of our day traveling to and from Brackendale, just north of Squamish. We returned one dog richer.
We got another pointer, from the same breeder that we got Yoshi from. Her name is Heart (which may change if we keep her), and she is Yoshi’s grand niece (her grandmother was Yoshi’s sister, so I think I have the grand niece part right). The fact that she is related to Yoshi was not planned — we contacted the breeder to see if she had any adult dogs available and Heart was the only one that was young enough for us.
She’s almost four years old, has a heart-shaped patch on her right flank, and is quite a bit smaller than Yoshi. She’s very timid but affectionate, and definitely anxious to please. We have her for a month trial, same as we did for Yoshi.
The past 24 hours have been way more emotional for me than I thought they would be. We arrived at the breeder’s house and were met at the door by four dogs. Three of them came right up to us, the fourth went into a submissive pose and peed on the floor. That was Heart. Kathy had warned us she was timid, but as soon as I saw her I wanted to change my mind. Not a good start. Greg and I crouched down on the floor, and within two minutes she was coming up to us for pets, but very tentatively. You could see she wanted the attention, but was a bit overwhelmed. I confirmed with Greg that he actually wanted to do this (if he had said no I wouldn’t have tried to change his mind), and he was still game.
We stayed for about half an hour talking to Kathy, then pretty much forced the poor dog in the car and started our six-hour journey home. She was actually remarkably calm. She slept for part of it, and the other part she sat up and looked out the window. No whining, no anxious pacing. On the ferry I curled up in the back of the car with her and she snuggled her nose under my arm. I feel asleep crying, as we were in almost the exact same position that Yoshi and I were in the night I said goodbye to him.
She slept in our room last night on a bed on the floor, and again was remarkably calm. She got up a couple of times and whined a bit, but for the most part she lay on her bed. We shipped the kids off to Gramma’s for the weekend so we spent a quiet day here at home. I took her for a couple of walks, one of which took us down to Esquimalt Road. She was definitely wary of all the vehicles, but she was VERY good on leash. No pulling at all, and she didn’t hang back either. And lots of sniffing. I took that to be a good sign, a sign that she was at least a bit comfortable.
She doesn’t like loud noises and she doesn’t like sudden movements. Her reaction is to cower and then run away, but 30 seconds later she’ll come back and check out the source of the noise or movement. I’ve been trying to talk to her as much as I can so she can get used to the sound of my voice. When our neighbour came over today she didn’t bark when she came to the door, but she did run downstairs. But she was soon back up, looking to Greg for comfort, and within minutes was receiving pets from Zoe.
She has many movements and sounds that are either pointer-like or Yoshi-like — I’m not sure which. It’s somewhat comforting and somewhat sad for me to hear her sigh in the exact same way he did. She curls up on the bed with her front legs in the exact same position as he did, and she rests her head in my hands just like him. The practical side of me says these traits are just pointer-like. The more emotional side says they are Yoshi-like.
Greg and I had toyed with the idea of getting a different breed, but we came to the decision a few weeks ago that we wanted another pointer. When we see other pointers we always go up to the owners and chat with them. I know it’s not unusual to be attracted to a specific breed, but I think I assumed that this dog would be entirely different from Yoshi. She’s not. And it’s thrown me a bit. Okay, a lot. Hence the emotional day.
I’m stating the obvious when I say my goal is not to replace Yoshi. I’m pretty sure he’s irreplaceable. My goal is to fill a void left by him. I’ve been a dog owner for over ten years and I miss it when I don’t have one. This was reinforced to me today when I was out walking with Heart. A walk isn’t complete to me without a dog by my side.
And then there’s her personality. She is definitely timid. Do we want to take this on? I was feeling pretty comfortable about it by dinnertime, seeing how far she’d come in a 24 hour period, but then the kids came home. Elliot was quite good with her, but Amy is too young to know how to move slowly. She just wants to hug Heart. Heart just keeps running away from her. Admittedly they were together for all of one hour, so it’s a bit early to be jumping to conclusions.
Which is a good point. It’s a bit early to be making any decisions. We’re going to introduce her to this life as slowly as we can, and we’ll figure it out. If she doesn’t fit in to this family, she won’t stay. And it’s not like I’d be delivering her back to a shelter. She’d be going back to the home she’s always known. But I think if we decide not to keep her, it’ll be hard for me to say good-bye. I’m growing attached to her already, and I think it’s because a tiny piece of Yoshi has come home.