Almost two years ago, a couple of months after our beloved Nutty passed on, my husband and I decided to get another dog. The family felt very off-balance, just wrong. I am allergic to dogs, so our breed choices are limited. We searched local shelters, and no non-shedding dogs were found. We decided on another poodle because they are so emotionally balanced, sensitive, and intuitive.
We found a woman about an hour away who farmed and bred poodles. She had a five-month-old standard and a new litter from a different mom just eight weeks old. The puppies were adorable, but I was interested in the older female. She was past the cute puppy stage and looked more like an adult, but I remember the sharp teeth the puppies have and how destructive they are. And it’s easier to potty-train a dog that has a bigger bladder and able to hold it. They brought out the older dog, and she seemed healthy and nice enough, but she had absolutely no interest in us. She chewed on a piece of bone that she found and was in her own world. As an inducement, the breeder offered the older dog at half the price of the puppies.
My husband and I stalled, trying to decide. We liked the older dog, but she just had no interest in us; we didn’t click. I worried that she hadn’t been socialized on this quite rural farm. The breeder said her grandchildren lived on neighboring properties and came over to play with the puppies daily. That sounded good, but I was unconvinced. I finally decided to take an intuitive approach. I closed my eyes and placed my hand on the dog’s head to feel our energies together. My energy swirled up and out in a feeling of expansion and joy. I gave my husband the nod; this was the right one!
Her first night in our home, the pup was understandably confused and a bit anxious. She didn’t know how to walk up and down stairs and seemed a bit mystified by the house. The other dogs accepted her, which was a relief. When I warmed up the homemade dog food, it was clear she couldn’t believe that it was for her. She wolfed it down. At bedtime, I picked her up and put her on the bed to sleep with us. She was stiff and unsure about sleeping without her littermates. By the second night, I didn’t have to tell her twice, she was up on the bed and wagging her tail. She loved the homemade dog food and decided that sleeping with the humans on their bed was a lot better than sleeping in the cold barn. She was beginning to like this new life!
This pup was confused about the concept of a name. The breeder said that they avoided naming the dogs, and our dog seemed to have no idea what a name was. After calling her “River” for two weeks and getting no response, I was ready to give up. I tried “Willow” once or twice, and she would not respond. Once more with “River,” and she responded quickly. She understood and accepted the new name.
My husband complains that no matter what pet we get as a family, it ends up being mine. That’s probably because I usually feed them and spend the most time with them. From the start, River was different. She liked to hang out with my husband, and the deal was sealed when she was old enough to go running with him. She loved the run and adored him for taking her. Just her. Pretty soon, she was prancing around like she and Dad were the long-legged ones of the family, so they were special together. The three short dogs and I rolled our eyes and couldn’t argue. River can’t sleep at night until she gives her Dad a kiss goodnight before settling down to cuddle. My intuition was spot-on, and River has been a wonderful addition to our family.
I think she enjoys the indoor life, camping in our 5th-wheel, and running with my husband. Our initial fear that she wasn’t socialized was unfounded; she is quite affectionate and sweet. My husband takes her with him in his truck, and she loves to put her head out the window when speeds permit. She plays with Jazz, our miniature poodle, keeping him young. She may be devoted to my husband, but she likes me too and isn’t afraid to show it. River has found her purpose in her life, to be a companion and member of our family. Every once in a while, I swear I hear her thinking, “this sure beats the farm!”