Healing The Hole In Our Hearts

Nine months ago we said goodbye to our devoted friend and family member, Flash.

We vowed that it would be a very long time before we even thought of bringing another puppy into this house, because the pain of losing Flash was just too strong. The last thing we wanted to do was bring another dog into the house to “replace” Flash. He, like all beloved family members, was irreplaceable.

We decided to wait as long as it took. Flash was close to all three of our kids, and they still get sappy thinking about him, so we figured it would be best to wait until they were ready, in their hearts, to welcome another family member into our home.

From the moment we brought Flash home from the breeder, we knew he was hardheaded, but he also had a lot of personality quirks that made us laugh all the time.

He loved to suck thumbs. Not suckle, but actually suck thumbs. He loved to play with feet, all the time. He wouldn’t chew or gnaw at them, but he would prance up to your feet and start pawing at them.

When he would lay down he would stretch one leg out straight behind him, all the time, and when you took him for a walk, he would get part of the leash in his mouth and walk himself. He was quirky, to say the least.

When we lost Flash to bone cancer, we knew we would never have another dog like him. If and when we brought a new dog home he would have some big paws to fill so we just didn’t look. We weren’t ready. The kids weren’t ready.

Then came Chuck.

A couple weeks ago our kids sat down to write their Christmas lists. The two oldest kids made sure to include all of their favorite toys and games like they do every year, but our youngest had one special request. All he wanted for Christmas was a “real golden retriever”, a dish, a collar, and a leash. In his mind, it was a simple request, something that would be easy for Santa to bring him on Christmas morning.

We were taken aback, our memories of Flash are still so strong. The other two kids were very supportive and hoped that the youngest got his Christmas wish. We were stunned.

We quickly told him that Santa could not possibly bring a live puppy on his sleigh, as it would be too cold for a puppy to make that trip. We did everything we could to put the thought of a new puppy out of his head, but we soon found that we couldn’t get the thought of a new puppy out of our heads.

Our oldest son came to sit with me a few nights later and he mentioned (out of the blue) that if he ever got another dog, his name would be Charlie. I asked him, “Why Charlie?” He said, “Because Charlie is a really good name for a dog”. I didn’t know then how important that conversation was going to be.

It took a few days to resign ourselves to the fact that if we found a dog, and the conditions were right, we might actually get another dog. When we got Flash, we paid a lot of money for him, money we don’t have now. We knew money didn’t matter though, and we figured if it was meant to be, it would happen.

We did a quick search of our local shelters came up empty, then we remembered that my brother-in-law had mentioned Petfinder. We did a search for puppies in our area, and there was Chuck. He was a baby Golden Retriever mix that was abandoned and taken in by a local rescue group.

My wife sent an email to inquire about Chuck, and they made sure we knew that Chuck had a problem with his right eye. They said he might lose all sight in the eye. After several days of emails back and forth, we decided we needed to meet this puppy named Chuck.

Within seconds of seeing him, we knew we couldn’t wait for Christmas. He immediately bonded with every one of us, bowling the kids over with lots of puppy love. Then the quirks began to show.

While we were getting to know him at the rescue group’s shelter, he stretched out just like someone else we used to know. He pranced around and made sure each one of us were paying attention to him. When he laid in the kids’ laps, he started sucking their thumbs. When Gidget moved her foot he danced a bit and started to play with it. When we got home and I took him outside on the leash to do his business, he quickly gathered the leash in his mouth and walked himself out into the yard.

I believe anything is possible, and after seeing what I saw tonight, there is no doubt in my mind that Flash made sure Chuck came into our lives. I am positive that Flash sent us those quirky messages to remind us that he’ll always be a part of our lives, but it was okay to move forward.

Simply put, he re-assured us that life moves on and it was okay to move on without him, because Chuck was here to heal the hole in our hearts.