Learning To Love Again

In Columns, Just My Bellybutton, Opinion by Nathasha Alvarez

A photo of a Dalmatian dog wearing a yellow bandana.
Several years ago, I wrote about Scrappy. He was the love of my life. A couple of years ago, I had to put him down. It was one of the saddest times of my life. I would come home and hope to see his face poking through the blinds. I didn’t think I would ever be able to have another dog in my life. No other living creature measured up to Scrappy so how could another puppy?.

Last spring, I helped a friend who couldn’t have a puppy where he lived keep one at my place. I figured if I saw a puppy that I liked I would get one, too. In one day, we each had our very own fluffy critter sitting in our laps. I chose a black lab mix and he chose a brindle color doberman/bulldog mix. Almond and Diva were inseparable. But, we didn’t know that they were sick. In the end, we had to put each one down because of distemper. I can not urge everyone enough when I say that if you are going to breed dogs then keep them healthy and if your dog is pregnant and you don’t want the puppies give them to the animal shelter so they have a better chance of survival.I am still getting over the anger and frustration that I feel towards Almond’s owner. He should have taken better care of the puppy before advertising for its adoption.

My friend was so excited to know that he had a unique mix of a breed that he didn’t care about the obvious: the puppy was skinny and malnourished. He thought he was saving the puppy.In the end, we both fell in love with these young ladies. They were so well behaved. People would stop to pet them and ask about them. They were show stopping ladies.Even the vet had watery eyes when she had to put down Diva. Words can’t clearly illustrate Diva’s demeanor. She walked with an attitude like a real diva. Almond would stand guard in front of my wheelchair whenever someone approached my wheelchair. Almond and Diva never left each other’s side for long and if they did, separation anxiety would be just around the corner.When they were both gone, I cried and cried an ocean of tears. I couldn’t believe I had to put another dog down, much less two puppies! I didn’t know what to do. My home needed a puppy. There was something about having a puppy in the home that felt right. I no longer thought I was betraying Scrappy. I could love another puppy again!So I searched and searched every day at the local animal shelter for the right puppy. Two days later, I went to the shelter with my cousin. There was a little black lab mix on hold until 1 PM. If no one came to get her, she would be mine. The mother and daughter volunteer team at the shelter took the puppy to get ready to go home. In the meantime, I played with the puppy’s sister. Now I was confused. I didn’t know which one I wanted and my heart was still raw from the losses Fendi and Almond.When I had both puppies in the room, I had to make a decision. I was anxious, concerned and nervous that I would make the wrong decision and choose the wrong puppy. I was doubting myself. Perhaps it wasn’t time for me to have another puppy. Maybe this puppy would die on me too.

But everyone was watching me, I had to decide. No one came for the first puppy, but the second one was adorable as well. However, the first one was ready to go and was my first choice when I originally went to the shelter. But would she understand the wheelchair? Would she realize that she was not going to have a normal dog life? Decisions. Decisions.

I decided to go with the one that was ready. When the volunteer was about to take away the other one, she asked me to say goodbye to the puppy that I had not chosen and I started to bawl. It made everyone in the room cry. What if no one adopted the one I didn’t choose? Would it be my fault? People wanted the first one, but there was no hold for the second one. Maybe I should take the second one but I wanted the first one. What if the one I took home would never understand that she had to be careful with the wheelchair

? What if I couldn’t train her to be calm and not chase everything while dragging me down the street? What if I couldn’t master the dog whisperer’s techniques?

But I was taking a chance. Opening my heart again. Regardless of whether it is a love for another human being or puppy, opening my heart to love again was very difficult and I didn’t want to get hurt again.

The volunteer promised me that she would do everything possible so that the second one, the unchosen one, would find a good home. So I left that day, with tears streaking down my cheeks and a new puppy to love.

I took Fendi home and she has been an adventure. She is basically an understatement of the word “energy”. This past summer, I’ve had to deal with many medical issues that has left me weaker than ever before in my life, so training her has been and continues to be a challenge. I don’t give up because there are times when she looks at me and knows how much I love her. Although I try not to compare her to Scrappy, Almond or Diva, I think she realizes that she has very big paws to fill.

So join me, in my new adventure of learning to love again.

Scrappy: It Was More Than Puppy Love

Scrappy: It Was More Than Puppy Love

Fendi: The New Love In My Life

Fendi: The New Love In My Life