Today our beloved Willow turns twelve.
I had begged and pleaded for months with then boyfriend (now husband) to get a dog. Since the husband worked shift work I wanted to have some company, especially on his night shifts, in the lonely house in the strange town in which I had moved to.
It was October 2001 and it had been a very tough year. I lost my mom that April. The September 11 terrorist attacks rocked and changed the world forever. I withdrew from university and was in the process of looking for employment. I wanted to have something good and fun to focus on even if it meant a little hard work on our end.
Eventually the husband agreed but with a few stipulations. He wanted to get a small breed dog; one that was non-shedding and preferably a female. A friend had told us that his girlfriend knew someone who was a breeder and that she lived near the city of Saskatoon. So, we were off to pick a puppy! We drove six hours to Saskatoon. At first we had a really hard time getting a hold of the breeder. I was starting to get discouraged. But finally, the breeder returned our call and invited us out to her place just outside of the city.
We weren’t sure what to expect when we arrived. The breeder took us to a little barn on her property where all of the puppies were. She had told us there were three different breeds to choose from. There were three mothers and one father.
When I saw the puppies I was overwhelmed by how adorable they all were. How was I supposed to choose? I immediately ruled out the pompoos though as they were a little funny looking and they were biting the bottom of pant legs and tugging at my shoe laces. They were trouble makers, I just knew it.
The second breed (cannot recall what they were but another cross of poodle as the father was a toy poodle) were very rambunctious as well. We did not feel a strong connection to them either.
Then, I noticed a small black puppy just sitting amidst all of the chaos staring at my husband and myself. I was curious about this particular pup and asked the breeder about her. She indicated that this puppy was one of two pups from that particular litter and that she was the quietest one.
In the meantime I looked over to my husband and he was holding another tiny black puppy in his arms. He was cuddling and petting the pup saying to her that we were going to rescue her from all of the madness. I was a little shocked and asked him, “we are?” He responded by saying that we had to as she was so small and she was getting trampled on by the other puppies. This coming from a guy who did not even want to get a puppy.
The breeder told us that the puppy the husband was holding was the sister of the quiet pup I had noticed. She was also the runt of the litter which made us want to have her even more. The pup belonged to the cockapoo breed. She was part cocker spaniel and poodle. The biggest she would ever get would be between 7-8lbs. (To this day she is about 6-7lbs depending on how much hair she has at the time her weight is taken.)
The breeder asked us if we were prepared to take the pup home that day. We told her we wanted to come see the puppies first and then we were going to go out shopping for the necessary supplies. We asked if we should put a deposit down to make sure that the pup was ours. She said no because she trusted us. So, the rest of the day was spent buying everything we would need to take care of a dog; a kennel, leash, collar, food, food dishes, toys, etc.
The next day we went to pick up our puppy to bring her home. When we got to the breeder’s house she immediately took us out to the barn. She told us that another family had come and was really interested in our little pup for their son. They were adamant that they were taking her as we had not put a deposit down. So, the breeder grabbed our little runt and we quickly closed the sale in her house.
We brought our pup back to the hotel (pet friendly of course). I had a name picked out for weeks. Our puppy would be called Willow. I loved the character Willow from the TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer as well as the movie by the same name.
I finally had my very own puppy. And she was so cute. She could fit in the palm of my hand.
I had had some experience in raising a puppy when I was a teen. I knew it was similar to having a baby in the house and that the first few nights would be sleepless. Willow would sleep for an hour or two, then eat a bit (we had to mash her food), and then play until exhaustion. The routine would repeat every three or so hours. Each time she woke up crying just as a newborn baby would do. It was so cute and exhausting. The first time we gave her food she got so excited. So much in fact she went right to her tiny dish and her back feet lifted off of the floor and she fell into the dish. It was so adorable.
Over the years she has provided us with some pretty entertaining and happy memories.
My heart aches to know that someday soon she won’t be with us anymore. She’s been my companion for so many years and it will be tough to lose her. She has gotten me through some pretty tough time and she was there for every new milestone we went through as a family such as getting married, having our first son followed by our second, and so forth.
Willow’s health is good but not the greatest. For the past few years she has been suffering from seizures. They seem to come in fits and spurts. She will get about three-four in a two day span and they won’t return for a few weeks or months. As soon as the seizure is over, she wants to play (and she knows she will get a treat afterward for being so brave). So, the seizures do not seem to be doing any damage so far. We also think that her sight is failing her.
A while ago our son brought home a book for his home reading assignment called Our Old Friend Bear. The tale is about a boy, his family and their dog Bear. The family have noticed that Bear’s health is deteriorating and they must decide whether to put him down or not. In the end the decision is made for them as Bear quietly passes in his sleep. After my son finished reading the story aloud I asked him how he felt about it. He said it made him sad. He even told me that he had tears behind his eyes and that he had tried to not let them out. My poor sensitive boy. Honestly, the story was heartbreaking and I got a wee bit emotional myself.
Today we celebrate that Willow is still a part of our family and we hope that she will be for a couple of more years.
Happy birthday sweet Willow! We love you!