My 8 year old daughter is in love, and I couldn't be happier (spoiler: this story will melt your heart!)
Just two weeks ago, my sweet little girl fell in love.
I knew it was coming and I did nothing to prevent it. You might even say that I spurred it along.
We celebrated CurlyQ's 8th birthday and a week later, she finally got to hold her gift: a 13 week old English Springer Spaniel puppy.
She named him Sam.
A little background info...
Our family has prepared for a new puppy for a couple of years now.
You might say that we don't make big family changes quickly...
We wanted to make sure that our youngest was ready to be gentle and that our oldest was ready to help be responsible before we brought home a new pet.
Over the last year, CurlyQ has learned all she can about the care of a puppy. On her own, she has checked out books from the library and watched others with their pets. She has been preparing.
About a month before her 8th birthday we told her that we were so proud of how responsible she was becoming and that we had noticed her preparation for a puppy. We then told her that we had found our puppy and that he was going to be our gift to her for her 8th birthday. She was over the moon excited. I don't think she really expected this to be "her" dog.
Our long distance puppy adventure.
We knew we wanted an English Springer Spaniel. My husband and I both love that breed and knew that we would like to have a good family pet as well as a hunting dog. We found our puppy through a friend who had gotten two of their Springer Spaniels from the same breeder... in Pennsylvania. Nearly 14 hours away from where we live in Maine.
I reached out to the breeder and when the time came we made our choice based completely on photos and a few short videos. Note: I do not recommend choosing a puppy in this way, but it was the only choice we had. We knew that this was a reputable breeder and that the trip over would make a great family road trip.
We drove 1.5 days to Pennsylvania to pick up our puppy. When we arrived, the rest of the litter was playing outside in a little puppy pen, laying in the grass and enjoying being outside.
When we approached the pen, a sweet little pup jumped right up, little tail wagging, and ran right up to CurlyQ. He showered her with kisses and joy and then made his way around to the rest of us. His sister wasn't far behind him. And the third puppy in the pen just kind of strolled over to check out what was going on. I knew which puppy we had picked out via photograph, and it wasn't the one that was loving on our daughter. We had chosen the laid back pup that didn't jump up with crazy excitement and face licks.
While the kids played with the three puppies, my husband and I took a quick walk to our car to discuss what we had just seen. I knew that the other male pup was still available, but wasn't sure if we could change our mind. We knew we had to ask. The perky little puppy had literally "picked" our daughter. It just seemed right.
The breeder saw all of this and agreed that we should take the other male pup. The one that greeted us first and couldn't get enough of our kids. And as we discussed the changing of our minds, CurlyQ said, "Here Sam!" and he turned around and came right to her.
I knew that the puppy that we left behind would find a new home, but I still felt weird about it. But as we drove away and our little girl held her puppy in her lap for the first part of our trip home, we knew that we had not chosen our puppy. He had chosen our daughter.
It just felt right.
The happy ending and another sweet beginning.
This is the part that I warned you about. The part that will melt your heart.
Life with our new puppy has been interesting to say the least. He loves our family and has fit right in. As expected, our daughter is stepping up and being very responsible for her puppy Sam.
I knew that having a new puppy would be very much like having a newborn for a few weeks - and it has been. Complete with total sleep deprivation. I've been the one on night duty, taking him out, sleeping beside the crate, cleaning up most of the puddles and messes when he doesn't make it outside.
Our house is louder. There have been lots of giggles and squeals. The TV has hardly been on. We have spent more time outside.
Sam is absolutely a part of our family.
But there's more.
This weekend I received a message from the breeder in Pennsylvania. And I wept.
Remember the little pup that we changed our minds about? The quiet, laid back guy? She wanted to let me know that he had been chosen by a little boy with Down syndrome and would be trained as his therapy dog. He needed a laid-back and calm dog and this puppy was perfect for him.
All of the pieces finally came together.
Our family would have been happy with whatever puppy had come home with us. It wasn't so much about Sam choosing CurlyQ anymore, even though he clearly did.
It was about the other cuddly puppy finding his home and his boy.
And it was the perfect ending to our long distance puppy adventure.
Jennifer Collins is a Graceful Mess.
Living a messy life, full of grace.