BRINGING HOME BABY

If you're a dog lover, or as in my case a dog nut, you have probably experienced the grief that comes with a dog's death. Even when you know a dog's suffering has come to an end, it's not easy to be rational or common-sensical about it. You loved her or him, and that loved one is no more.

Some react by quickly filling the void with a new dog. The best way to fight loss is to head right now for the shelter or breeder, goes the argument. Others (that would be people like me) can't do such a thing. However much sense it makes, the idea of filling our need can't be so conveniently and quickly accomplished. It would be wrong, a utilitarian response to a deeply subjective state of mind and emotion. Grieving is for real, and quickly bringing home a new dog won't do. It would be like losing one's spouse to terminal-something, returning from the service, and sitting down at the computer to check out some online dating site.

That's why it took me three years to finally accept that the empty space in our lives shouldn't go on longer. Truth to tell, this acceptance came to me, not to my wife Barbara. She was so attached to Chelsea that she kept saying "No more dogs." When I started dragging her off to see rescues in people's foster-care homes, she said without ambiguity, "If you do this, she's your dog, not our dog. I get too attached, it's too painful."

I nodded solemnly, accepting my future fate as the sole "staff member" in our household, should I bring another dog into our empty nest. But confession is good for the soul: I knew this idea--YOUR

dog, not OUR dog--was just an idea, a principle with just about as much chance of being stuck to as our winning the Powerball lottery.

I'll have more to say about all this down the road. But today, long after she joined us (not just me), here is the latest Knister to take up her duties as time-clock manager, SKYLAR. 

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