I got her for companionship after Jim died. While we were still adjusting to his diagnosis, he asked me if I thought I would get another dog (Jim was pretty amazingly matter-of-fact about the whole process of dying, even cracking some gallows jokes about it. It’s really helped me to be matter-of-fact in the aftermath).
I told him no, emphatically. We’d lost our family dog, Corki, to cancer a couple of years before Jim’s death. He was a great dog – but there was a freedom in being able to leave without being so intensely missed or having to plan who was going to watch the dog on longer trips. I said that I liked the liberty, and, when it was just the kids and I, I didn’t want to be worrying about a dog.
I was wrong.
First, Lise wanted a puppy. It was Miah who picked Corki, and she had waited a long time for her chance. She and Jim were especially close; I think focusing on the puppy-to-be helped her accept the loss of a father who had also been a good friend, fishing buddy, and provider of the annual Hess truck.
I couldn’t deny her that comfort.
But I really didn’t want a dog of my own. I reasoned I’d help care for the eventual pup, and that would be enough.
Then the weeks after Jim’s death stretched into months. I found myself turning to his empty place in what had been our bed, ready to tell him some tidbit he might find interesting. When he was alive, we often read together, or I’d sit next to him in bed watching something while he slept. It was common to share bits and pieces of life this way.
I remember exactly when it was. I had just learned that Charlotte Rae from The Facts of Life had been on Car 54, Where Are You? and that she’d done stand-up comedy in the 50’s – a time when that was anything but a common profession for a woman.
I wanted to tell Jim. I knew he’d find it interesting – except he was dead, and I couldn’t tell him.
There was a huge empty place in my life.
It was time for me to adopt a dog.
A few weeks later, I passed a shelter by chance on my way to a writing event. I decided to stop back on the way home.
That was the day I met Noli, and made her entry into our family official. At the end of the week, on April 20, she came home with us.
Her companionship isn’t a match for Jim’s (obviously). But she’s sweet and warm and strong and a living presence in my bed. She needs care, and I need to care for her, which gives me a new focus. She loves to snuggle, and I need the comfort of physical contact and touch. Her gentle snoring reminds me of Jim, and so does the way she hogs the bed despite only weighing in at 55 pounds – have you ever TRIED to move a sleeping pit bull? It’s like pushing against a furry mass of magnetized lead.
I rescued my canine companion, and she rescued me right back!
Till Next Time!