Thursday, August 31, 2006

Saying Goodbye to Juniper

One of the hardest things about being a dog breeder is saying goodbye to the dogs you've come to know and love as your own. We had to do this for the first time this summer. We sold our first puppy to a woman in MA, near Boston. Kathleen, the very nice woman who adopted our puppy Juniper, (now called Nanook), met me as I came out of the gate - she was as close as security would let her get, and the minute she saw that it was me who was carrying a bag with a puppy inside of it, she dropped to one knee and was so excited that by the time I finally got to her I think she might have been crying just a little bit. She reached out her arms for the dog, and on second thought looked at me and said "I'm Kathleen, Its nice to finally meet you", before returning to Juni. I took him out of the kennel right away and she took him and said "Hello Sweetheart", but she said it in a Boston accent, which will always stay with me. "Hello, Sweethart", she said to him. And then it was my turn to get just a little bit teary-eyed, because that little Sweethart turned to her and licked her nose. At that moment, Kathleen and Nanook fell in love. And I felt ok.

I'd been dreading giving him up, you know. This whole time we'd assumed we'd be selling both Juniper and Daisy, and so we prepared ourselves for that right from the get-go. ... and then Tony started saying it would be just fine with HIM if we kept Daisy, and I started saying that would be alright with me as well. By that time I'd had this home here in MA lined up for Juni, so I knew he was going to a good place... and ever since we decided for sure to keep Daisy I'd been kind of counting the days in my head - "he's got three more weeks with his family".... and it just about broke my heart to millions of peices, so I stopped thinking about it. But boy, that last night in the hotel was hard. Letting Daisy sleep with her brother in the kennel one last time... knowing they'd say goodbye without even knowing they were being separated form each other - uffda. That was almost too much.

But we got up, and Tony took me to the airport. I put Juni in his carrier and he touched noses with Daisy through the kennel. Then, he and I were off. Tony says the other dogs were concerned when he came back to the car and Juni and I weren't with him. But they are dogs, after all. And they do adapt. And they are safe at home with Tony and will be fine.

Juni was great on the airplane. He didn't make a peep, just slep there in his basket the whole time, and when we finally arrived he seemed to know that something - SOMETHING - was happening.

And then I handed him to Kathleen. And she plastered his little doggy face with kisses, and told him that his daddy was waiting for him at work, and he had a big brother doggie that was just dying to meet his new little playmate and best friend.

And then she shook my hand, and she gave him to me to kiss for a moment while she signed the contract. I snuggled my face into his floppy ears, and he kissed me. And I chose, at that moment, to not be sad. I made a choice, an absolute choice - because the first moment Kathleen had called him her Sweethart, I had known in my own heart that this was a very, very good place for him to go.

I said my goodbyes, and I watched them leave together - and I thought to myeslf that this whole breeding of dogs thing isn't going to be that hard. Oh yes, I love Juniper, and oh dear I will miss his sweet little face and his floppy ears - but the way that that woman called him her sweethart will always be prominent in my ears. I know that I have done a good thing here - that WE have done a good thing here. We have raised up a good little boy puppy and we have loved him and taught him all that time would allow us to teach. And he has gone out into the world to complete the lives of two people and one other dog.

When I get home from Boston I will look at our three doggies - and I will pet them and I will cuddle them, and I will know how happy they have made me and Tony. I will always remember Juni, for he was the first puppy we raised and handed over to some other forever home. I will remember him always, but it will be without sadness. Because I know he is warm and safe and happy and loved - he is someone's Sweethart - and THAT is what will always remain most important.

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