“We’ve looked over your application,” the woman said on the phone, “and wondered if you’d consider getting a puppy. We have four that need homes.”
Holy cow. That is not the call I expected! When we submitted an application to McPaws, the dog and cat rescue organization in McCall, Idaho, we’d envisioned a dog 1 or 2 years old.
Our previous dog, Buddy, was a rescue from the Humane Society in Boise. He died 10 months before, and we finally felt ready to adopt again. But at 71, we hadn’t considered an 8-week-old puppy.
Larger dogs tend to live 10 to 12 years, which put us squarely in our 80s with a dog to take care of.
But, as we noted on the adoption application, we took daily walks of 3 to 5 miles, took our dog with us when we rode our horses, and had land on which we raised hay and horses.
So any dog of ours was outside and active a lot, although they were in the house whenever we were.
“Well, we’re willing to come in and check them out,” I replied.
We set a time for the following day.
With a leash, collar, and towels, we arrived at McPaws the next morning.
Once inside, three staff members went to the kennels and emerged with four squirmy puppies in their arms. I’d forgotten how darn cute puppies are and how difficult it would be to walk away without one.
Three were tan and white and one was black and white. Mom was a lab/border collie mix, and dad was a passing stranger … but listed as generic retriever.
“Can I hold him?” my husband asked, reaching for the black-and-white one.
At that point, I knew it was a done deal. No way were we leaving without a puppy. Since my husband had been reluctant to get a new dog, fearing the heartache again when age finally took over and yet another dog passed, I figured we’d get whichever one he wanted.
So it was that we left McPaws with Bentley in my arms and headed straight to the pet store for food, chewies, toys, and beds.
In those first days at home, I remembered how much effort an 8-week-old puppy takes. With temperatures in the single digits and needing multiple potty breaks during the day—and night—I learned to keep my jacket, hat, mittens, slippers, and flashlight at the ready.
Although Bentley slept through the night, it was a short window: from 10 pm to 4 am.
Then there was teaching the pup to walk on a leash as letting him run free with predators around was a non-starter.
The little guy put the skids on, locking his legs while the first few walks consisted of being pulled across the icy expanse of our driveway. Thankfully, Bentley was a fast learner and by day three, he was happily trundling along on his little legs.
We quickly found out he liked to walk, unless it was windy, at which point he locked up again and refused to budge. That meant picking him up and stuffing him inside my husband’s coat. A little 10-pound puppy doesn’t have much padding to keep him warm, so even with the nifty coat we got him, the wind was just too much for him.
The world was brand new for Bentley. Everything was seen for the first time and required lengthy sniffing and chewing—whenever his people would allow it.
A wind-blown leaf was fascinating, and scat from a coyote was simply delicious.
Seeing the world through his puppy eyes made me appreciate so many things I’d taken for granted: wind sculpted snow drifts perfect for sliding down, ravens winging above calling to each other, wolf and cougar prints to snuffle in the snow, deer and elk to wonder at from afar, pine cones to chase and pounce on, and fir branches to wrestle with while learning to growl.
Walking with Bentley slowed me down and taught me once again, that simple joys are the best. So, thank you, Bentley, for letting me see a brand new world again. MSN