The day Maverick passed away on July 14, 2016, was the saddest day of my life. It truly felt like a piece of my heart was being pulled from my chest. A constant ache in the deepest part of my soul set in that day and took permanent residency.
Soon after, I contacted Maverick’s breeder letting her know the news and inquiring about Maverick’s lineage. In my mind, the idea of my next sheltie being related to Maverick was my surefire ticket to feeling the same connection with another dog.
I found out Maverick’s breeder was no longer in business but her dogs were passed along to another breeder and even more, Maverick’s grand neice was having puppies! A flutter of hope immediately rose in the pit of my stomach that a fluffy new sheltie puppy may help lift the cloud of grief that had been hovering overhead with no hint of relief.
The thing that excited me the most about having another sheltie from the same lineage as Maverick is a greater likelihood of similar temperament. Maverick was so un-sheltie like in many ways. His spunky, outgoing nature appeared to me as one-of-a-kind yet as it turns out, all of the shelties from Maverick’s line were described the same way. It felt like fate.
A litter of three pups were born on July 31, 2016. Since then, the breeder has been fantastic sending photos and keeping me informed of the puppy’s health. Of the three, she is keeping one (a female) and offering the two remaining males to companion homes. One of the boys, is tri-coloured (just like Maverick).
The pictures of the puppies have been too cute for words. I’m talking jaw dropping, heart-melting, ooo-ing and ahh-ing type cute. My excitement to meet them reminded me of how I felt as a kid on Christmas Eve waiting for Santa to arrive.
Yesterday I met the puppies and boy oh boy were they incredible! All of the breeder's shelties were fantastic. Their personalities shone “Maverick” without a shadow of doubt.
Yet something unexpected happened. As much as I loved visiting the puppies, something just didn’t feel quite right. I realized I was going there hoping for a “love at first sight” moment or sign from one of the two fluffy puppies that he was meant to be mine (similar to Maverick humping my leg when I first met him and he wouldn’t leave me alone – lol!). But nothing out of the ordinary happened. It then dawned on me that I was using the notion of a new puppy as a coping strategy to help deal with my continued heartache about Maverick, my Heart Dog.
Both puppies were perfect, but they weren’t Maverick and it was never realistic to expect they would. It would not be fair to the puppy to have a mom who deep down is hoping and waiting for that “Maverick” feeling and unintentionally comparing them. Once this dawned on me, I took a deep breath and let reality sink in that I am not yet ready for a new puppy. Rushing into puppyhood after the recent loss of my Heart Dog would only continue to shadow my grief that clearly has not yet be healed. I need more time to accept he is gone and deal with my emotions before I'm ready to shift gears into the joy of raising a new sheltie puppy.
The most ironic part is that today is my birthday. I’ve had so many wonderful happy birthday’s and nice gifts from my friends and family. Yet, the only thing I truly want is the one thing that I can never have – to see Maverick trot upstairs behind me, push his nose on the bedroom door to pounce his way in, and give me his classic “feed me!” bark.
What I received from Maverick instead is the most important birthday gift of all - the realization that more time is needed to heal from losing him and that I am OK how things are now. Marti & I bond more every day and when the time really is right to welcome a new canine to our pack, I will know it. Today is just not that day.
How did you know when you were ready for your next dog after your Heart Dog passed away?
According to BlogPaws.com, September is Pet Smile Month. It was news to me along with a kick-in-the-butt reminder to give my loveable surviving sheltie, Marti, more frequent teeth brushing.
I remember when I first got Maverick, my Heart Dog, who passed away this summer, I was surprised to learn that dental health for dogs is just as important as it is for us. This is a tad embarrassing to admit because why wouldn’t it? Poor dental health can lead to foul breath, gum disease, and rotting teeth, which unfortunately can lead to your Heart Dog having pain they can’t tell you about and dental extractions may eventually be required. I learned about this the hard way when Maverick was 10 years old and needed the entire bottom row of his front teeth removed. This affected his ability to eat his favourite treats and holding a ball in his mouth while playing fetch - a favourite pastime - became a challenge.
So admittedly, while I have tried to keep Maverick & Marti’s smiles as picture perfect as possible, I could have done much better over the years. I am definitely better now than I was in their early years with regular brushing being part of their dental routine. They actually really enjoy it! Maverick in particular would come trotting along the second he noticed the toothpaste in my hand. He and Marti both enjoy having some extra toothpaste licks after their brushing. I use what is deemed a “natural” paste but come to think of it, I have never looked into exactly how healthy these products are. Now that I consider myself an official dog blogger, I will be making it a mission to learn more about good dental products for my dogs and will be sure to share. This will be especially important if/when I get a new puppy so I can up my measly C- in canine dental care to an A+ over his lifetime.
Side note: The sheltie breeder has sent me some recent pictures of the two available pups at 4-weeks old and let me tell you, they are too cute for words. One in particular reminds me soooo much of Maverick (as a reminder, I wrote a few weeks back about how I am contemplating getting a puppy this Fall from the few remaining dogs in Maverick’s lineage). I will definitely have some updates soon about new sheltie puppy decisions, so keep an eye out!
So what’s the bottom line when it comes to keeping your Heart Dog’s smile as perfect as “paw”sible? First, give yourself an honest rating of how well you care for their teeth and then make a plan of action for improvement. Improvement doesn’t have to mean perfection but every small, consistent step helps to make your furry pack as healthy as can be (just like it does for us!)
How would you rate your doggie dental care? Do you have any tips or words of wisdom for those of us trying to improve our rating?
The question on my mind today is how long before I am ready to get a new dog?
By no means do I think Maverick will ever or can ever be replaced. At the same time, now that he has passed, the void is so profound, part of me feels like I will do anything to cure it. Even though I have read you can experience two or more Heart Dog's in your lifetime, I find it hard to imagine having as strong a connection with another dog as I did with Maverick. So, this lends to the question - will getting another dog actually help the healing process or simply remind me that he’s gone?
During Maverick’s last day, I was so distraught, I even seriously considered retaining samples of his DNA in hopes of cloning him one day (apparently this really is possible and has been done with animals before!). I have since decided against this for several reasons that I will share in a future blog post.
Besides no longer having Maverick or going forward cloning him, I am used to having two dogs. For the first two years of Maverick’s life, it was just the two of us until the itch to “double the love” kicked in and Marti joined the family (she is a sheltie from the same breeder as Maverick). What followed was 11 years having two shelties at my side. So now, two dogs are my normal. They keep each other company when I go to work and offer each other companionship even when I am around but preoccupied with work. For Marti, being the only sheltie on the block is a brand new experience.
As I contemplated all this, I reveled at the thought of my next sheltie coming from Maverick's lineage. It would not be him, but a part of him. Plus, Maverick’s spunky personality was so unique, I figured it’s my best option to ever find another sheltie like him.
For my next step, I contacted Maverick’s breeder. She is no longer breeding shelties but did pass along the name of another breeder who has the dogs which remain of Maverick’s line. Knowing this was my best bet for finding a family connection to Maverick, I called them up and learned that puppies from Maverick’s second niece (the granddaughter of Maverick’s mom) are on the way!
The breeder told me that all the shelties from this lineage have an outgoing and quirky personality. This was music to my ears! I will never expect my next sheltie to be just like Maverick but to have some familiar characteristics, I suspect will feel like going home after a long vacation away.
Ironically, puppies from Maverick’s family will be ready come the beginning of October…just in time for my birthday! Is it a sign? I actually have never had a small puppy before. Both Maverick & Marti were being grown out for show so they were each around the 5-months old when I first brought them home. To have an 8-week old puppy will be a brand new experience I am excited to take on.
The breeder promised to contact me once the puppies were ready for a visit and I am so excited to meet them. I think by doing so, I will get a true sense if I am ready or not for another sheltie family member at this time. The bottom line is that when you are ready for your next dog is different for everyone. I have heard some people get their next dog the same day of their passing while others are never ready for another dog, especially if it was their Heart Dog. There is no right or wrong time and hopefully you will know if and when that time is for you.
How long before you were ready for another dog after your Heart Dog passed away? Please share your insights and experience about this very personal choice.
How can this blog help you?
This website and blog originated from the experience of learning to let go of my beloved Heart Dog, Maverick. By sharing my story and offering the opportunity for you to share yours, I hope we can all truly celebrate their lives. pay tribute, and heal from the loss of our one true canine companion. I hope this website will also raise awareness of the meaning of a Heart Dog because it is a concept that is not largely understood.