My dog, Sadie, is enigmatic, which is a fancy word for I don’t know what the heck is going on in that dog’s head.
Since terrier Gracie died, I have wondered whether I should get another dog to keep Sadie company. My vet said Sadie may feel lost without her pack leader.
While the dog-training books make it clear I am supposed to be the leader, that was never the case in our household. First, Mr. Holling was in charge, then Gracie. And though her behavior toward Sadie wasn’t always motivated by love, Gracie did serve as a buffer between Sadie and the world.
This became apparent yesterday evening when I took Sadie for a walk. For the first time since I’ve had her, cars seemed to register with her, and not in a good way. She started shaking and pulling against the leash. A woman walking by said, “She’s scared of the cars.” And she was.
When Gracie was with us, Sadie didn’t have to worry about traffic or people or other dogs. Gracie was there to protect us in her fierce terrier way, and Sadie was free to bop along without a worry in the world. Cars were moving blobs that couldn’t possibly harm her. I assumed so because Sadie would try to step in front of them, or, if she slipped her collar, she would run into the street with cars approaching. (Ten years off my life.)
These are the questions I’ve been dealing with: Is Sadie not ready to take on the role of protector and pack leader? Will she learn that I really can take charge and keep her safe? Should I get another dog? Is Sadie completely happy and I’m just projecting my grief over losing Gracie onto her?
Another dog? I don’t know if I’m ready. Sadie appeared out of the blue just weeks before Holling died. If she hadn’t shown up, I’m pretty sure Gracie would have been an only dog, and now I would be dogless.
And I feel guilty for saying this, but one dog is much easier to live with than two, particularly when one of the two is an extremely jealous, territorial terrier.
Nonetheless, I’ve been half-heartedly looking at shelter websites, feeling wretched for the poor dogs there and guilty because I could give one a home and don’t want to.
Clearly my next dog, if there is a next dog, will come from the shelter or a rescue group. There are simply too many abandoned and abused pups in this world who need homes for me to consider buying from a breeder — not that there’s anything wrong with responsible breeders. They provide an important service, too.
I guess all I can do for now is wait and watch. Wait and see if Sadie adjusts to only-dog status and keep my eyes open for a companion should she, or we, need one.
And then there’s fate. I didn’t set out to adopt Holling or Gracie or Sadie. They just happened into my life, and oh, how they blessed it. I am grateful beyond measure.
Maybe that’s how it will happen with the next member of my pack.
Jan Hearne is Tempo editor for the Johnson City Press. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.