Surprises are surprises because they come out of the blue, are unpredictable, maybe require a leap of faith to recognize. Ours appeared a little after 10:30 this morning at the Animal Shelter of Martha’s Vineyard.
Abby is our 4½-month-old golden retriever puppy. She had been bought as a gift to a friend, a purebred puppy from a breeder in South Dakota. She would have been a perfect present for Mike and me, but not for the intended recipient. Lisa and Gordon knew she was being brought to the shelter on the Thursday after Christmas, called Mike to see if we would be interested. Of course we were. Mike, who kept saying he wanted to wait till spring to start looking for a new dog, thought we might as well go to see her. The moment she came out of the car in the shelter’s parking lot, we both knew we had found our new dog.
She is beautiful, a reddish, rather than a cream-colored, golden. Her fur has little curls in it. She has bright eyes, long legs, delicate paws, and a lovely long snout. She has gone to pee like a good girl when I have taken her outside. As I am writing this column, she is sitting by my feet. I’m on the sofa and she is on the floor. I can’t believe how lucky I am to have a puppy lying by my feet again. It was Tallulah’s spot, left empty when she died almost three years ago now, and Nanuk’s before she died this fall. Now Abby seems to have claimed it.
So far, she hasn’t seemed interested in the cats; at least she hasn’t chased them. She sits when I tell her to and looks at the cats. Katey seems curious. Nelson is horrified. Mona hasn’t deigned to give an opinion yet.
She came with the name Abby. Mike likes it and doesn’t want to change it, so Abby she is and will remain. She is herself.
We are beginning our acquaintance. I know it will take time. What so far seems like a mellow personality may turn out to be shyness in her new situation. She may become a whirling dervish once she settles in and gains some confidence, or she may be a quiet puppy forever. That’s the wonder of a new relationship. We will learn about one another.
Mike and I have begun this adventure so many times since we have been together. We have had so many older rescue dogs who only lived with us for the second half of their lives. Talley was our first puppy since Leo, the dog I brought with me to the Vineyard when I moved here from Connecticut. I was 22 years old when I got Leo, in my 50s when Talley was born. Now I’m 70, Mike is 74, and we are starting out with a new puppy. She will likely be our dog till the end of our lives. What a thought.
Abby will feature regularly in my columns, as all of our pets have. As family and friend and folks around town have. As many of my experiences have. We will get to know her together. I hope her stories will amuse you always.
I had wished for a puppy or dog for my birthday, then for Christmas. Abby came on Boxing Day. I couldn’t have hoped for a better surprise than her, a more optimistic beginning for 2020.
Happy New Year.