I look like I’m crying in the photo Red took just after we decided which one of the 10 golden retriever pups in the pile would be the one we would name Summer. It was an emotional moment, in fact, and at the moment of decision, all I could do was point at the little girl I’d placed in Red’s arms and nod.
We had decided to pick one of the eight female pups in Windsor and Lady’s litter, which made it awkward for the puppy in the black collar they named McIntosh, who was clearly the dog most interested in me during the hour we all spent together. Mac, alas, is a male, so even though he “picked me” I was obligated to deny his kind offer. Nikki our hostess hopes that her brother will adopt McIntosh, and I am, too, because that may make it easier to keep an eye on his progress.
Of the eight girls, it took most of the hour we were given to make up our minds. (Although when you’re swarmed by five-week-old puppies, why would you want to rush a decision?) Red gave me prime responsibility for the choice, because Summer will succeed Willow The Best Dog There Was™ in our household and no one denies that Willow was “my” dog, as inseparable as we were to the last.
The puppies had different-colored collars. My fondest hope was that I would sit down among them, cry, “Here, Summer!” and one and only one would run into my arms. In reality, I cried, “Here, Summer!” and they looked 10 different places besides in my direction. So on to Plan B.
The little girl with the green collar was the first to climb up and say hello, so she had the early lead. I was intrigued at various times over my delightful 45-minute dive by Orange, Blue, Purple, and of course Black, but Black was the afore-mentioned McIntosh. He is a very friendly little fellow but lacking in estrogen, which fuels our household.
At one point I lay on my back to see what might happen. The ones who licked my nose and right ear made me laugh out loud until I noticed the one who was chewing intently on my left ear and (ouch!) became the first to be eliminated (or was she? I forget what color collar she had).
We actually were well into the adventure when I began to notice the shy little one with the yellow collar, whom Nikki had code-named Mimosa. I pulled her into my lap and admired her long, soft shagginess, and I think I remember her being one of the best nose lickers.
Twelve years ago I asked a puppy, “Are you Willow?” and received an immediate electric affirmative in my heart. It was too much to ask for a repeat, but I nonetheless asked several of the little love muffins, “Are you Summer?”
I wish I could say what was the tipping point, the moment when the choice became clear and indisputable. All I can say is I asked one last time, “Are you Summer?” and Yellow nestled in as if to reply, “OK, sure, if you want me to be.” Instead of a lightning bolt, it was more of a slow warming.
She looks anxious to me in the solo photos we took afterward, and I choose to believe it’s because she is thinking, “Why did my new daddy set me down? What am I doing in these arms instead of my new daddy’s?”
I have to temper my expectations, because Summer can’t possibly be a reincarnation of Willow, who singlehandedly changed me from a cat person into a dog lover, who forged a bond with me that both hurts and comforts me now that it’s broken. Summer will be her own puppy and will have her own personality, and only the coming years will determine where she fits in this interesting mosaic that is our lives.
I’ve been enjoying the irony of adopting a dog named Summer just before the first day of autumn, and I’m loving the idea of having Summer all year round. Mostly I’m looking forward to introducing Dejah to her new little sister and having a full house again.