Puppy Love

The house was too quiet when I got up this morning. There were no wet noses or wagging tails to greet me. Even during the night, I missed the snoring, sighing, and rustling sounds that come from the foot of our bed.

We have two dogs. Kiefer was my guide dog from 1995 to 2004. Ecko took over that year after the old man had to retire because of arthritis.

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When I got Kiefer, I was reluctant to have a dog. I’d had one before, but she had to retire early because of epilepsy, and I wasn’t looking forward to having another experience like that.

But, Kiefer turned out to be the perfect match for me. He had been working as a guide for someone else, but the school had taken him back because he was being mistreated. So he wasn’t all that eager to start over with someone new, either.

About a month after Kiefer’s arrival, my family took a trip to Pennsylvania, and I stayed behind to care for the farm. That night, we had a terrible ice storm. A tree fell, blocking our driveway, and you couldn’t walk anywhere with the slippery coating that covered every flat surface.

I couldn’t leave the goats unmilked and unfed, so off I went, with Kiefer guiding, to the barns. Whatever bonds had started forming up until then, they were cemented that day. Not only was Kiefer absolutely devoted to me, but I was falling in love with him, and, in my family’s opinion, he was a hero.

So, when retirement time came, I was again filled with questions. What would my next dog be like? Could I be fair to him or her and not compare them to Kiefer? Would he or she get along with Kiefer? Would Kiefer be gracious about passing the torch?

Well, Ecko is an entirely different animal. He’s big, goofy, super-mellow, and a total wuss. And, joy of joys, he and Kiefer get along great!

Well, Ted and I are traveling today to a thirtieth anniversary party, and my mom took the dogs to care for them until tomorrow. It’s the first time Ecko has been away from me for more than a few hours.

I was afraid he’d whine and carry on (after all, that’s what he does when he’s here with my husband and I go somewhere without him). But my mom has two other dogs, and I figured he’d have enough distractions to keep him occupied until Sunday. Besides, he has to learn (and, perhaps more importantly, I have to learn) that we’ll both be fine for a little while apart.

I called my mom this morning, and Ecko hasn’t made a peep. So while I’m delighted that he’s behaving and not all that bothered by the changes, I can’t wait to see him and Kiefer tomorrow. I’m sure the joyful greeting I get from the two of them will be the best part of my day.

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