Well, it’s been awhile. It’s been a year of ups and downs and changes and feelings and adapting, and while I haven’t been much in the writing mood I think it’s time for an update.
First, we lost Pip in July, shortly after my last post about him. I miss him. He was just a really good, easy, sweet old soul.
Second, Maisy tore her second cruciate ligament and had surgery to repair it at the end of June. So her summer was spent recovering and rehabbing (she’s fully recovered and back to normal now).
Third, I was contacted about the possibility of taking Squash’s littermate brother, Aspen, who was being retired from Hillside Huskies, a small recreational racing kennel where he had been living since he was a puppy.
Baby Aspen (photo by Amanda)
I had a lot of feelings about this, many contradictory. When I was first contacted, Pip was still with us. I very much did not want to add stress or disruption to his life, and I really didn’t know how much time he had left. He’d already outlived all the predictions and I was hoping he’d continue to pummel the odds even though it wasn’t likely. And frankly, it felt wrong to be thinking about the next dog already.
BUT, it’s no secret that Squash is just about the perfect dog for me and I’ve often joked that if someone were breeding them on purpose, I’d have Alaskan Bulldogs forever. By all accounts, Aspen’s personality was very much like Squash’s with one important addition – he was a great mushing dog with good drive for the sport, and already trained to boot. So it seemed like an opportunity too ludicrous to pass up.
BUT, Maisy. Maisy, who adores puppies but is very selective about whether she wants to be friends with strange adult dogs or throw down with them. Maisy who does seem to have mellowed over the years, but…
It is kind of a blur in my memory, but as I recall it went like this: First I said no. Then I said yes. Then I said no, this doesn’t feel right. Then, after Pip was gone, I did some soul searching and said yes again with a promise that I wasn’t going to flip flop anymore IF Maisy got along with him. I was committed.
And so, I found myself for the second time driving to Ohio to pick up an Alaskan Bulldog. This time I had Squash and Maisy in tow and I was fully prepared to leave Aspen-less if my girl didn’t like him. But, she did. Or at least, she didn’t immediately NOT like him. She barely even acknowledged him, really, which for her is a win. So the next day we all piled into the minivan and came back to Minnesota together.
He’s been a delight. He’s an amazing joring dog and we’ve been doing a lot of bikejoring both alone and with Squash or Maisy, although I haven’t been brave enough to try all three together yet. He and Maisy run beautifully together, and he has the size and strength to force a work ethic on Squash. He’s sweet as can be and fitting in great with the other dogs. I’m pretty sure he and Squash share a brain. He’s still overexcited about the cats and learning to tone himself down with them, but he’s not dangerous or predatory towards them. He’s a good fit for me, I really like him and I’m very happy that he’s come to be part of our little family.
Still, I can feel myself holding back a little bit emotionally. I know part of it is losing Pip and gaining Aspen so close to one another. It’s just a lot to process and it’s been hard to let myself be fully happy about the latter on the heels of the former. But if I’m honest I think part of it that I’m afraid to let myself get too attached. I haven’t been fully confident in my ability to successfully integrate a new dog into my existing household; that part of me took a pretty big hit after Toast left (who is doing great in his new home btw). Some days it seems easy, and some days it seems like a lot. Like so much. Like something I’m going to fail at again.
So here I’ve been sitting in the in-between space with change and uncertainty, the twins at the boundaries. Love them or hate them, they’re going to usher you across that threshold from what things were like before to what things can and will be from now on… if you let them. I’m going with a few butterflies in my stomach, but I’m trying real hard to trust that we’ll all make it into the next space together.