Friday, March 20, 2009

Investing in Puppy Futures

Spring means ticks, but it also means longer days and less rushing around to capture those precious daylight hours. It also means faster shutter speeds and crisper pictures of moving dogs.

Apparently, it also means time for a new puppy. Gus’s breeder has a few sixteen-week-old puppies, sons of Gus’s brother, that she can’t properly train herself because of an injury, and it seemed that the cosmos was suddenly aligning to put a puppy in our lives and bring us back to our two dog days and nights.

Looking back of photos of Gus, like this one, taken when he was about the age of the puppy we’ll get tomorrow, I have struggled with the idea of getting a puppy so closely related to sweet Gus. I wondered if I would find myself chasing echoes of my beloved friend in a puppy that shares so much DNA with him. I realize, though, that I simply don’t feel that way about the power of DNA.

(Photo Credit: Donna Tippy)

A dog’s look is strongly influenced by his DNA, as his is temperament and a multiplicity of other qualities. Nonetheless, his personality, his uniqueness, his attitude, his, well, him-ness are part of that ineffable mix of experience and biology that transcends protein replication. What I loved about Gus was Gus himself, and it will never be found again on this earth. This new dog will equally be himself and only himself, and he will be loved on those terms.

If we do see echoes of Gus’s face, or his drive, or the songs he would sing when we came home to him, I think I’ll smile a sad smile and remember the noble boy he was and be happy in the knowledge that Gus was a friend and mentor to Comet and Comet is a friend and mentor to this new boy, and that Gus’s spirit will continue to live on through that chain.

(Photo Credit: Donna Tippy)

This new dog is going to have quite a time keeping our hearts quite as light as Comet has, with his goofy expressions and total willingness to jump up on rocks and pose for me. Comet has studied hard in the ways of friendliness, sweetness, and all out enjoyment of life, and he shouldn’t have any trouble passing those lessons on to a new generation.

And, of course, that puppy is going to have to learn to soar.

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