How a family develops over time

 

Coco and Kirby were the perfect pairing

Coco and Kirby were the perfect pairing

I have adopted three dogs since moving to Las Vegas and two have been older, much older.

I moved to Las Vegas with a senior dog, Coco. She was twelve at the time. When I decided to adopt another dog I knew a puppy or very young dog would not be a good idea. Coco was blind and deaf but still had the greatest spirit. So I went looking for a middle aged boy!

Kirby the day I brought him home - the saddest eyes

Kirby the day I brought him home – the saddest eyes

When I heard about Kirby he was thought to be about six years old. But one look at him told a different story. He was “at least eight” when my vet first examined him and when he had to have major surgery the third day I had him, they saw the condition of his organs, and his age changed to “about ten.”

Kirby was the perfect dog. He may have been older but his temperament was stellar. He became the most wonderful therapy dog and loved everyone. He was Coco’s constant companion until we lost her at almost fifteen. They were the best of buddies.

Kirby became the most beautiful dog and loved Coco

Kirby became the most beautiful dog and loved Coco

Yes Kirby too became blind and deaf and had eleven surgeries over four years. But to me he was always “my precious boy.”

I did not want Kirby to be an only dog and selfishly I needed two dogs to work with me, but I was so devastated losing Coco, this time I did not put out the call for a new dog.

Benny was the most insecure, needy little dog

Benny was the most insecure, needy little dog

But the call came anyway!

And that’s how Benny came into our lives. He was the dog no one would keep – four homes in his first year of life. But something told me he was my dog and Kirby welcomed him, although a bit cautiously. This time against my better judgment I did adopt a puppy, only fourteen months old.

Benny came to love Kirby and protected him at the very end

Benny came to love Kirby and protected him at the very end

Kirby was very patient with us as we worked to stem the demons in Benny and bring out the sweet, smart dog he is today. But I won’t lie to you, it was not easy.

But sometimes we don’t need easy, we need to be humbled and challenged. Benny was that dog for me.

Benny was not so sure about Petey in the beginning

Benny was not so sure about Petey in the beginning

Now Benny is my young dog, only five in March, and he is also my “anchor.” I have every hope that he will live to a ripe old age of fifteen or more. He is basically a healthy dog, although he does have neurological and emotional challenges.

But his health is good so he will see many older dogs come and go in our home.

Now they are true brothers respecting one another

Now they are true brothers respecting one another

When we lost Kirby to cancer eight months ago, I really debated whether I should adopt another older dog or a younger dog that could be a companion more to Benny. But when I thought about what would be best for Benny, I knew he needed another stable, steady, calm dog. Benny learned how to be a brother to Kirby so when we learned about Petey just as we were losing Kirby, it seemed he was sent to us.

Petey is eleven, far older than most people want to adopt but he is just another perfect dog for us.

The family today

The family today

Benny has learned to respect Petey’s age and size and calm personality and it has developed just as I had hoped. Benny is feeding off of Petey’s energy and calming down even more than before. He understands the older dog and knows his role in the family is to be the big brother even though he is the younger dog.

Petey’s joining our family has enhanced Benny’s role. He sees how gentle Petey is and actually much more independent than Benny. While Benny is always at my foot or within sight, Petey goes off on his own. I now see Benny going to one of his beds and not always searching for me. Thank you Petey for teaching Benny that he can be loved from a distance!

So when you consider adopting a new dog for your family, or any pet, consider the one you currently have. The most important consideration is how they will get along and fit into the fabric of your family. Make sure they meet away from the home before adopting. Make sure they each have their own space and time with you. Make sure their temperaments and personalities meld well together.

Grow your family as you would a quilt, meshing colors and textures to make the most beautiful finished product.

The dogs that have enriched my life were never the ones I pictured having but certainly the ones that I needed to make the family quilt complete.