The first day of Summer

We brought Summer home on Saturday, 11 days before the first day of autumn. Summer, of course, is our new golden retriever puppy, who takes the place in our home that had been held by Willow The Best Dog There Was, whom I expect to mourn until I join her in the afterlife.

(Does anyone seriously believe dogs don’t go to heaven? They are more deserving beings in every sense of the world. But I digress.)

Bringing a new pet into a home always comes with a period of adjustment, for everyone. This poor little 8-week-old creature is taken from the nine siblings and parents and the only humans she has ever known and placed in a new home with humans she previously met for barely an hour. The humans and the other creatures in the home must figure out how to co-exist with this feisty little newcomer.

Summer has looks in common with Willow; that’s only natural, she is another golden retriever. Time will tell if she will mellow into the gentle personality that Willow and, before her, Onyah, had, or if she will be as rambunctious as Dejah Thoris, Princess of Mars, our other canine companion these past eight years and also a golden but of the “English cream if you please” variety. Blackberry the cat resumes her role as the last remaining member of her species, a feline in a cast that once numbered seven. (For the record, seven cats is too many, but perhaps one is not enough. And we loved all seven, but wow! Seven? Really?!)

My sleep was interrupted three times the first night of Summer, as I took the first shift to respond to any puppy whining after lights out. Sleep patterns take a beating in the early days, too.

I don’t want or need another Willow. That bond was one of a kind anyway. I want Summer to find her own way, to be her own dog, and to love it here. I do want Summer to feel welcome, Dejah to feel sisterhood, and Blackberry to feel safe. Now the oldest of our pets, Blackberry dashed across the path of my car as I started down the ramp to Highway 41 one summer day 14 years ago. The 4-week-old emerged from the bushes when I parked the car, crying (I swear) “Home! Home! Home!” over again until I almost named her E.T.

This is a ramble, isn’t it, more of a “hi, how ya doing, here’s what’s happening at our house” letter than something with a specific point, more of an excuse to post puppy pictures and isn’t she adorable. It’s early days: Summer hasn’t even quite recognized that her name is Summer yet, or has she? She has looked up a time or two when we say the word, which is more than we can say about her grasp of the word “no.”

They’re all different, you know, even if they’re of a breed that supposedly all have certain personalities. Just like people. The worst disservice we do any species is to assemble them into groups and make assumptions about each group based on the behavior of individuals. “Oh, they’re all like that.” “They can’t help it, they’re __.”

Anyway, please welcome Summer into our cast of characters. If you’ll excuse me, I hear an insistent, “No! No! No, no, no, no, no” in the other room, and I’d best see if my help is needed.

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