Saturday, January 8, 2011

Part 5 - Maggie

Our hearts ached to the point we thought they would break. This dog had been such an intrinsic part of our lives that none of us could imagine a home without her. The kids and I wept almost daily. Thank goodness we had a second dog, and the little black and white cocker served as tear catcher more times than I can count. And though I was the first to say that we could never replace Murphy, it was clear within the first weeks that we needed to fill this gaping hole with another dog.
A week or so later I decided to begin some research. I would have gladly gone back to look for the farmer that sold us Murphy if I had any idea where to look, so I began to Google “Border Collie Missouri.” My plan at this time was to spend a couple months of research to find Murph's breeder or another good breeder, then maybe get a puppy in about 6 months or a year.
I tried my best to locate “John” but I had little to go on, and it is highly unlikely that he was advertising on the internet anyway. And it seemed that no matter what I typed into Google to refine my search, the number one hit was “Missouri Kansas Border Collie Rescue.” I’ll be honest… I never even clicked on it once in the first week or so of searching. I don’t know why, but for some reason I thought there would only be old, mixed breed, or problem dogs there. One day I did a Google image search-since I had been so unsuccessful doing a web search for text-and up popped all these beautiful dogs… some young, some old, rough, smooth coat… a smorgasbord of BCs all tagged by Missouri Kansas Border Collie Rescue. So I picked one and clicked on it.
The link had landed me on the “success” pages of Mo-Kan’s website and the stories that I read of dogs that had been pulled from shelters or found wandering without a home filled me with emotion. And I read the stories of the people that fostered them, renewed their health and their spirits, and the stories of the families that adopted them. Again, I am struck by my own ignorance, I didn’t have a clue about the wonderful work a rescue organization does. Once I had reached the bottom, I took a deep breath and clicked on the “available for adoption” button. And silent tears filled my eyes as one of the little faces filled my monitor.
Her name was Tulla, and she had been born shortly after a good Samaritan caught her mother running loose, just four days after Murphy died. She had five littermates, all of which were cute, but it was Tulla that held my attention. She had a split face, almost exactly the same as Murphy’s except in mirror image. Her eyeliner didn’t curl up as far at the corner, and she didn’t have a blue merle kissy spot. Other than that, they were mirror twins… her paws, her legs, her rough… they all were the same as Murph’s, down to the pattern of black freckles on her front leg… again, as reflected in a mirror. The shock of it was overwhelming. I called my daughter out to look, and she immediately burst into tears. The little pup WAS Murphy for us.
I immediately began filling out the application and struggled with the question “is there a particular dog you are interested in?” Obviously there was only one, but I didn’t want to look like a crazy person, so I put “any of Freckle’s pups, but ideally Tulla.” I don’t know what I would have done if they had said that Tulla had been spoken for. I suppose I would have taken one of the other pups, but in my heart, I knew that I had to have her. Any other pup would have given me the feeling that someone had taken MY dog. Fortunately, though, our application was put in the “pending” stack with Tulla’s name on it.
Obviously, the pups were still too young to go to their new home, and the rescue has the job of checking up on the applicant. I was not worried about them calling the vet… in the last few months we had become regulars there. During the times that Murph was hospitalized, I would go by three or four times a day just to sit next to her. I would even take books and read outloud, so that she could hear my voice. Even my elderly mother would go over and visit, sitting on the hard floor next to her crate, so they knew us as devoted owners. Besides, the treatments and tests for Murph's extended illness had been quite expensive… surely we were one of their best customers. It was the home visit that concerned us most-so we worried and we cleaned-hoping to make a good impression (like someone would say, "I'm sorry, your house is too dusty for our dogs" ). When the volunteer stopped in to interview us, we showed her photos of Murph in the pool with the kids, pictures of family vacations, even pictures of her opening her Christmas presents. We talked about obedience training and Murphy’s brief exposure to agility. And then she asked the question that would surely ruin us. I could feel sweat erupt from my forehead when she said “do you crate your dogs when you are gone?”
I don’t know what I said. I danced around it and then I gave some non-answer like… “we have never needed to.” I think I mentioned the kitchen baby-gate set up, but cleverly left out the oak cabinet chew-a-thon. I didn’t know if she was suggesting that this was a good thing or a bad thing, and I didn’t want to wreck my chances at getting this puppy by guessing wrong. You would have thought I was on “Millionaire” and Regis was saying “is that your final answer?” The volunteer thanked us for our time and left, saying that she did not make the decisions, she only reported what she saw to the board who made the final choice.
The waiting was pure hell. But within a few days I got an email that said we were approved for adoption, and to contact the foster home to work out the transfer … of Tulla.
I know it sounds crazy, but somewhere deep inside, we all felt like Murphy was coming home.

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