Remember this guy? He’s a Sesame Street character. I remember one skit where he was standing in the shadows when Ernie (I think) walked by.
Lefty: Pssst!! Hey buddy!
Lefty (opening his trench coat to display dozens of
watches hanging from the lining): Wanna buy a watch?
Okay, so this may not be exactly how it went, but it’s how I remember it. Why do I bring this up, you ask? Because the director of the rescue where we got Penny reminds me of Lefty.
You see, K. sits next to me in church choir. A few months ago when I told her that Penny was sick, she expressed sympathy, of course. She knows what it’s like to lose a pet. But in the next breath?
K: Psst! Hey, Sharkey! The rescue has a beagle puppy.
S: Yeah, beagles are cute, but they’re hunters. I want a dog that I can trust off-leash; one that won’t go chasing after a rabbit.
A few weeks later when Penny was still hanging in there . . .
K: Psst! Hey, Sharkey! We might be getting a cocker spaniel. She’s young, and she’s spent about 10-12 hours a day tied outside. She just wants lots of love.
S: Hmmm . . . it’s too soon. We still have Penny to think about, and we can’t bring another dog home while she’s still around. (And besides, dogs who’ve spent a lot of time outside aren’t usually very well socialized, I thought to myself. The last thing we need is another dog that doesn’t get along with people or other dogs.)
During those last few weeks of Penny’s life, J.P. and I talked about what kind of dog we might like to get next, and when we thought we’d be ready. (Notice that it wasn’t a question of if, but when.) Since we wanted a puppy, I thought it would be good to wait until spring. I had visions of trying to housebreak a puppy in the winter; both of us standing outside, shivering in the cold and snow.
We talked about pugs, bichons, and springer spaniels. But we didn’t even consider another cocker. Then, at the choir rehearsal after we’d lost Penny . . .
K: Psst! Hey, Sharkey! We got that cocker spaniel puppy. We want to keep her in foster care for a while, to be sure she’s healthy, give us enough time to have her spayed, and to see how she behaves with the foster family. Do you think you’d be interested? If not, just say the word and I’ll quit bugging you.
S: Well, I guess it couldn’t hurt to meet her.
You know how the story ends, of course. But what you don’t know, and what even I didn’t know at the time is that K. sent an email to the rescue’s board when she heard about Penny’s cancer. She asked them to keep us in their thoughts, and to pray for a dog that would be a good fit for us after Penny was gone. So you see, our little love sponge was an answer to prayer.
I felt bad that it all happened so soon after we lost Penny—like we were trying to replace her. But K. says (and I believe) that we’ll never be able to repair the hole she left in our hearts. Instead, Maggie is finding her own place.