On February 3, 1999, the 40th anniversary of “the day the music died,” I had to put down my almost 15-year-old Samoyed, Gulliver. It was personally devastating. I worked another twenty-six days at my teaching job and retired. Meanwhile, “conventional wisdom” offered me three basic choices: get another puppy right away; wait a decent interval to respect Gulliver’s memory, or foster pets to share the joys without the commitment.
So, almost by accident, I came upon a pet adoption site while out driving and went in to bring some smiles to the puppies. Eventually, I was introduced to Holly, a lively little springer spaniel who was lined up for a permanent home in Connecticut. But she needed a foster parent for the weekend, and I volunteered.
I loaded the car up with Holly, dog food, and toys, and I doubt that I’ve ever, before or after, seen a dog so happy. She was going to a real home! She went from the back set to the front set with ease, and I thought she would sit on my head if I allowed her.
Not a good idea on the highway.
We got ‘home’ and I took her out to my fenced back yard and she absolutely loved the idea of running around, but she constantly came back to me and we’d try a new corner of the property. After a good hour of that, it was time for rest, and I guided Holly into the family room, put up a ‘pretend-gate’ to keep her in, and I stretched out on the couch while she lay down maybe ten feet away.
I fell asleep, but when I woke up, I found a gently sleeping little dog nestled on my left arm and shoulder area. Sleeping like a baby! I knew I had a friend, but I knew she would be leaving for a new home. I’d been told she liked to sleep on a towel or near leather, so, hours later, I took her out and then up to the bedroom where I spread out a towel alongside my leather briefcase. Wearing her bandana, she made herself very comfortable.
I woke up at 5 a.m. with a dog sleeping on my left side, exactly like the afternoon. We went outside, then back upstairs, but this time, when I put her down on her towel and I got in bed, she marched over, climbed up the bed frame and nestled on my arm. That went on for another day and a half, and I reminded myself how unconditionally dogs can share affection. Holly was so happy and so well behaved….
But, the time came to take her back so she could go to her rescue home, and it was not at all easy to say goodbye to Holly. I later learned that she was doing wonderfully in her new home in Connecticut, and that went a long way to defusing the rash I’d gotten on my left side from her sleeping on me.
That was 1999. I still think about Holly often, and even though we only had three days, she is as strong and wonderful a memory as I have for the six wonderful dogs who have been with me at different times since 1969.
Foster. Rescue. There are millions of Hollys waiting for love.