When our family lost our beloved Chihuahua, Odie, this past June, the pain was worse than I ever imagined.
With the house void of his dog dishes, bed and blankets, I vowed to take some time off from having a pet.
I simply couldn't imagine loving another animal like I had loved Odie.
But then, a trip to the Great Dane Rescue changed all that for me.
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Odie had a great life that was 16 years long. His age had become a running joke in our family, but for the past year, I knew his health was taking the final turn for the worse, and I tried to mentally prepare myself and our kids for the inevitable.
I received Odie as a puppy in 1994, and except for the period he lived with my parents while I attended college, he was a loyal companion to me, and even grew on my husband with his feisty personality and tendency to provide us with extra love whenever we were sick or feeling blue.
He grew a little depressed when we brought our daughter home in 2003, but eventually he adapted to life with our children.
A little more than two years ago, he developed glaucoma, which resulted in the loss of one eye. At the time, I couldn't imagine anyone being able to bounce back from the painful procedure and recovery, but he managed to get through it, although he moved a little slower afterward and sometimes bumped into things.
Even in his old age, when his bones were aching and he was sleeping most of the time, he allowed my kids to give him gentle hugs and kisses while he relaxed on his blankets.
My daughter loved sharing stories of her dog with her class, and even now, her illustrations of him are placed throughout the house.
In early August, I visited the Great Dane Rescue Center of the Carolinas in Huntersville and immediately noticed a small black and orange dog in a crate at the registration desk.
Something in his brown eyes reminded me of the pet I had lost, and I inquired about him.
I was told the Chihuahua/terrier mix was named Sonic, and he was a sweet, energetic dog who had lived at the rescue for two years.
Before I knew what I was doing, I called my husband and told him to bring the kids to meet Sonic. We all instantly loved him.
After we filled out the application forms and headed home, I thought again about what we were doing.
Yes, I had said we would need time to grieve the loss of Odie, but I hadn't been prepared for the sadness in my children's eyes that continued weeks after his death, or the emptiness of the house without him.
It was obvious we all needed another pet to love, and rescuing a dog seemed like the right way to do it this time around.
We are adjusting to life with Sonic.
The kids couldn't be happier, and I have to admit having a canine companion once again has helped all of us emotionally.
Sonic is very energetic, and he loves to dig in the sandbox in the backyard, ride in the car and go for long walks.
We've even taught him a few tricks. He's extremely intelligent and picks up on things quickly.
At first, he was a little nervous about the kids, but now he wags his tail whenever they come into the room.
Now, crayon drawings of Sonic are placed next to the ones of Odie.
I think some families are meant to have pets, and our family is obviously one of those.
We are all grateful Sonic came into our lives to help us heal at a time we needed it the most.