But when one journey ends, another one begins, right? My American and I talked at great length over several days.
How long would we wait?
What could or should we do with all the time that Shep demanded and deserved?
How long could we wait?
No time like the present
We couldn’t wait.
The emptiness in our hearts was greater than our grief. One of my best friends assured me I’ll always miss Shep — and cry over him. I trust her to know. She still misses her Bernese mountain dog Dekker, although she waited a bit longer than we did to add Tundra the Berner to the family.
On Friday, we drove to Arlington, Wash., a farming community about halfway between Bellingham and Seattle. The roads were busy with long weekend traffic.
I drove and cried and wondered whether I was doing the right thing.
ShaDo Farms had three five-month-old girls left. Born March 24, 2014, to Nicco and Maddie, they are fifth-generation pedigree Maremma sheepdogs.
They were part of a 14-puppy litter. Four died when Mama rolled over in her sleep. Seven had already been sent to homes as companions or livestock guardian dogs.
Doug and Sharon gathered all three girls and placed them into the little fenced pasture where they were born. Miss Red, Miss Orange and Miss Yellow played together for the first time in two weeks.
Miss Orange, however, left the pack occasionally to seek out human touch.
Our human touch.
She nuzzled and licked.
Maybe it was because we both had the scent of Big Macs on our hands.
Or maybe it was because she knew we had a good home to give her.
She’s home now
We started the research two days after Shep died. We looked on Google for breeders who might have litters in the next year, contacting them and asking to be placed on their waiting list.
One of them referred ShaDo Farms to us.
I waffled on the decision, changing my mind 10 times a day over the next several days.
Until My American put the hammer down and said you have to know.
My answer was yes.
We picked a name. Miss Orange is now known as Bella, the Italian word for beautiful.
She prefers to be outside, where she spent the first five months of her life.
She hasn’t eaten much in the last few days, although Maremmas are known to be nibblers and grazers.
She has a friend in her Lambchop, pulling at her ears just a little bit but never too hard.
She is gentle.
She is shy.
She is very much like Shep in many ways.
She is very much her own personality in a lot of ways.
Time to grow
She will grow into our family (oh by the way, Papa Nicco is 130 lbs and Mama Maddie is 120 and change; Bella, at five months, is 60 lbs).
She already has a special place in our hearts and lives.
The hole Shep leaves behind will never be filled. Bella helps to soothe the pain.