Kathy was drowning in pain. Her mother had just died and her husband had been diagnosed with cancer. Her dog of fifteen years was gone. All around her, her world was crumbling as she struggled to let go of one lifelong love and needed to face the challenging road ahead with another.
Her husband was in the hospital the weekend that she spotted the ad When she told her girlfriend, Amber, about the puppies, her wise friend insisted that Kathy let her drive them to the breeder. They rang the doorbell at the address, some hour’s trip away. There were the puppies. Six of them. Masses of dense white fur.
The runt of the litter saw Kathy and came right to her. Kathy scooped her up and cradled her in her arms, their heartbeats quickly synchronizing. Big black puppy eyes gazed into Kathy’s, and she was in love.
The American Eskimo puppy was the daughter of champions, Snowflake and Frosty. The breed was prized as natural watchdogs, attaching affectionately and loyally to their companions and barking when inspired to protect. They were intelligent and had often been trained to perform as circus dogs. They were noted for being friendly and curious.
The puppies had been born on the Fourth of July. Kathy knew she needed to find a name for the one who was clearly destined to come live with her to match the grandeur of the holiday. “Firecracker” and “Starr” made the final round; Kathy decided the latter better suited the sweet gentle little white ball of fluff.
Although Kathy and Amber knew it was immediately a done deal, Starr was too young to return home with them. The breeder finally agreed to let them return to collect her before Labor Day weekend so that Kathy could have three work-free days with Starr before the September work-week began. Starr was barely eight weeks old.
Kathy’s husband died about a year later. I remembered the comfort my dog had brought to me when my own husband had died. Taffy had been there to insure that I got up and out of bed in the morning. She had needing feeding, walking, and she needed me to get her food, to take her out. In return, she never left my side when somehow, intuitively, she knew I was sad or lonely. She forced me to pay attention to another living being even when my heart felt broken, to rise when I just as easily might have gone back to bed. I listened as Kathy told me Starr’s story and imagined that she had found some of the same comfort with her own dog.
That was more than ten years ago. The beautiful puppy grew into a majestic dog, faithful and obedient, loving and responsive. When I stooped to scratch her ears, she sniffed me carefully, determined I was no threat, and before long, was sharing her kisses as though we were old friends. I guess I, too, fell a bit in love with Kathy’s dog.
When she offered to take a picture of us together, I jumped at the opportunity. My Luke has been gone for four years now and I still miss him every day. Being with Kathy and Starr reminded me why. Love is real.