If you are a frequent reader of this column, you likely know that I’m a dog person.
We have a long history with boxers, although our first “child” was a chocolate cocker spaniel named Lilly. I had Lilly for 13 years, from my senior year of college through graduate school, through my first job, through dating, engagement, getting married, and through the birth of our three kids.
That cocker spaniel was the first-ever dog for my husband, who soon became even more of a dog person than I am. I, however, always had two or three dogs in the house where I grew up. They were simply part of the family.
When you are a dog person, the sudden loss of that dog is more profound than you might think. You miss the sounds: the pitter-patter of dog feet across the hardwood floor, the cling-clang of the dog tag against the water bowl and even the dog snoring while curled up next to your bed at night.
When our cocker spaniel died, our kids were 6 years old, 4 years old and 2 months old and I was on maternity leave after giving birth to our youngest child. And yet, our house seemed strangely quiet without a dog around.
My husband and I agreed to wait six months before we would think about getting another pet. We needed to wait until our baby was a tad bit older before welcoming another dog into the home, especially if we had the house-train the pooch.
But we never made it that long. Two months later, we adopted a 4-year-old boxer who was already house-trained. He quickly became part of the family and we fell in love with the breed.
Five weeks ago, our third boxer, Gus, died after a battle with lymphoma. I knew better than to say we would wait a certain amount of time before getting another dog.
Our house was quieter, but at the stage of life I’m in — when work is busy and our school-age kids are even busier — a calm house is sometimes a welcome respite. But the kids missed Gus, and more than anything, so did Maggie, our 4-year-old boxer. Some dogs do better in pairs, especially if they are used to having a playmate.
And there would be times when out of the corner of my eye I’d think I’d see Gus sticking his head through the bathroom door to look at me, the way he always did — I never could get much privacy, even from our dogs when I was in the bathroom. Or I’d think I’d see him leaping across the backyard in the way he loved to do with Maggie. I’d miss the weight of him curled up in bed in the nook behind my legs.
I missed having another dog, too.
So we told the kids that we would wait until the time was right to find a new dog. I started looking at boxer rescues, scrolling through the petfinder.com listings.
My husband and I discussed whether we should get another boxer or perhaps a bulldog. I got on the waiting list from the reputable breeder where Gus came from, expecting that we’d likely get another dog sometime in the summer.
But then, a photo of a boxer came across my Facebook feed over Easter weekend. The photo showed a male boxer puppy who was almost 5 months old and needed a home. A beautiful dog, he was originally going to be bred, but was instead being re-homed. And, as fate would have it, he happened to be a cousin of our beloved dog Gus.
Last week, my two older kids got in the family van and drove to Nashville to pick up our newest dog, who we’ve named Zeus.
Despite still being a 5-month-old puppy he’s calm — especially for a boxer — doesn’t jump, stays by our side, loves people, loves kids and genuinely is a very happy dog. He is obsessed with chewing sticks and likes to carry shoes around in his mouth. Zeus is terrified of school buses and the barky wiener dog who lives down the street.
He’s not Gus, nor a replacement for him. But he’s exactly what we needed, when we needed him, and has quickly become part of our family. Now if we can only house-train him and train him not to chew shoes or underwear.
How do you decide when it’s time to get another pet following the loss of one? I think that is an answer that varies from person to person. But for us, it was the right time, the right dog, and we are so excited. Welcome home, Zeus.
Lydia Seabol Avant writes The Mom Stop for The Tuscaloosa News. Reach her at email@example.com.
This article originally appeared on The Tuscaloosa News: New puppy proves to be the right dog at the right time| THE MOM STOP