Nearly all of my life has been spent with a poodle in it. I had a poodle as a protector and loving companion even before I was born. Getting a poodle puppy was one of the first things my parents did when they returned from their honeymoon. If I add up time when we didn’t have at least one poodle in my life, it’s only 8 months, which adds to approximately 1%. I consider myself very blessed.
So when our family lost our sweet red girl Holly to cancer in late April after what had been a tough year for me physically and emotionally, I felt the void quite deeply.
We have loved each of our poodles with our whole hearts. With each one, we’ve learned new things that have allowed us to become better caregivers. With Holly, we learned of the importance of using breeders who try to preserve the best qualities of the breed and take many steps to try to prevent passing along bad health traits. Three of our previous dogs have had unknown heart defects (both affected dogs were siblings) or eye disorders that either shortened their lives or caused unneeded disability.
It’s still impossible to predict everything. Even if we would have known that we would lose Holly to cancer, we would have still chosen to have her as part of our family and to love her as much as we could in the 12 years she was with us. (She was 13 when she died but was nearly a year old when we got her.) Yet if we can save any of our dogs from suffering in any way, we will.
I still miss Holly dearly. She was special in many ways. Here are just a small number of them. She had a unique way of playing that was so funny to watch. Sometimes we would hear the noise of a wild animal and a toy would simply fling through the air, catching her by surprise as much as it did us. She recognized when someone in our family needed extra support. She spent much of her day in or near my room. I think she thought is was her space as much as it was mine. I’m okay with that because it meant I got to spend a lot of time with her. She considered one of the chairs in my room hers. Others were free to sit in it, but that often meant sharing. She felt strongly that everyone who came to our home was here to visit her.
As much as I still miss our sweet girl, I’m learning to love a poodle puppy named Henry who came into the world four months ago and into our family two months ago. Well, that doesn’t sound quite right. From the beginning, Henry was easy to love. But I’m learning so much about the world of puppies that I never realized before. I’m looking at the world through new eyes, his eyes.
A few observations:
First, puppies change amazingly fast. Henry still loves being around us, but he is no longer the tiny puppy that would be content sitting by my feet or always nestled by my neck or in someone’s arms. He wants so much to explore the world, as he should. At a recent vet appointment, the doctor called him “fearless with an attitude”, and he meant that in the best way. This is our job: to help him be a confident puppy.
Puppies/dogs can be the best medicine (though they also require a lot of work and no one should ever get a dog without expecting to put in as much time and love as they get back). Henry has brought laughter back to us. He is an enthusiastic bundle of joy except when, as puppies inevitably do, he collapses for occasional naps, which is part of the normal process of growing so much so fast both physically and mentally.
We still have our beloved traditional vet. Yet we are also exploring considerably more holistic options, whether it’s flea and tick control, food, or other things that help keep our pets happy and healthy. In all these years, I never realized that traditional flea and tick medications are pesticides. And, though my family doesn’t rely on highly processed foods for ourselves, the reality is that much of the dog food world is that way. Yet it doesn’t have to be. There are better options. And Henry deserves the best we can give him.
P.S. We unfortunately never took a lot of video of Holly and wish we had. If there is one tip I can pass along, it is don’t underestimate the value of photos and especially videos!
Hello. My name is Sharon Kantanie. I'm 54 years old. I have an extremely rare disease called fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva. I believe in courage, kindness, and other things. Welcome to my little home on the world wide web where I hope to share information on the Kindness Matters Challenge, my life, and the things that matter most to me.