|This is my baby Annie when she was just a couple months old.|
At my first sight of Harley, I melted. Is there anything cuter than a Labrador retriever puppy? I don’t think so, but my dog is half Lab, so I’m biased. My across-the-street neighbors adopted Harley a few weeks ago. Their beloved cat Toby had disappeared, probably killed by a coyote or other local predator. The husband, Pat, swore they would not get any more cats. It’s too dangerous for them out here. He had always been a dog person anyway. And the wife, Paula, tried to go along with it, but she says the hole in her life was just too big. She didn’t have any kids, and she needed something to fill that need to nurture. So they got Harley.
Harley is cream colored, about eight weeks old now, small enough to carry around like a baby, soft and cuddly, but his massive feet promise that he’s going to be a big dog when he grows up. His bark is just a squeak. He’s learning about the world around him. Paula is already training him, taking him for short walks on a long blue leash and taking him to work with her every day. They are bonding like every mother and child.
Five and a half years ago, I had two baby dogs, Annie and Chico. My memories of that time are a blur of piddle, poop and chewed up furniture, papers, toys, and shoes. They were adorable. I took tons of pictures and wrapped my life around those dogs. They were my babies. My friends even threw me a puppy shower, complete with cake and presents. It was a beautiful and exhausting thing. And I’m glad it’s over. Raising babies, whether they have four legs or two, is hard work. I don’t want to do it again.
But oh, like those women who gush over human babies, I turn into a baby-talking mess when I see puppies, and I’m full of advice for the new “moms.” I’m rarely impressed by people’s baby pictures of little humans. They’re kind of funny-looking really. But puppy pictures, oh yes, I can’t get enough.
Like me, Paula married an older man, and she does not have children. But now she has Harley. I think we’ll be spending a lot more time together.
Is a dog a real substitute for a child? Probably not. But there’s nothing like a puppy to ease the pain.