Lessons from My Lab: More Room in a Broken Heart

Puppy Love

Last month our thirteen year old black lab, Hobie, died; a huge loss made even more difficult since it followed the death of Splash, his mom, two years earlier at the age of fourteen. Dazed, Jack and I rambled around a suddenly empty house listening to the silence or imagining the jingle of a collar. I completely identified with the words of Paul Ferson on grieving a pet:

“Without dogs, our houses are cold receptacles for things. Dogs make a fire warmer with their curled presence. They wake us, greet us, protect us and ultimately carve a place in our hearts and our history. On reflection, our lives are often referenced in parts defined by the all-to-short lives of our dogs.”

Yesterday, we returned home from Columbia Cross Roads, PA with two adorable Endless Mountain Labrador puppies. At nine weeks old, litter mates Schooner (chocolate male) and Katy (black female) are goofy little bundles of energy. It’s been over a decade since we’ve had puppies so their antics enthrall me with joy alternated by intense worry. What if I’m not stern and consistent enough? What if they eat a plant/shoe/dish towel and choke to death? What if someone steals them? How long before I get a good night’s sleep?

Jack and Schooner

Caring for them is offering me the chance to live in the moment: Several (okay, many) times daily I pick them up just to breathe in the smell of sweet puppy breath and stare into their gentle, trusting eyes. Soon they’ll be too big for this so I cherish these daily miracles, even as their razor sharp teeth threaten to pierce my nose.

Splash’s and Hobie’s passing left a huge hole my life. As I piece it back together I’m reminded of a line from a Carly Simon song, “There’s more room in a broken heart.” Even as I mourn, chubby labby legs and fat, furry tummies begin to fill the empty spaces with an unconditional love only our can animals give.

Crate training Katy


7 responses to “Lessons from My Lab: More Room in a Broken Heart

  1. I am sorry to hear of your loss, but I hope the new puppies bring you joy.

  2. Never fear about what you are feeding them, they are LABS! This from Annapolis:
    “Laurie Neomany of Annapolis, Md., noticed last week that Vincent, her Labrador retriever, wasn’t eating. Clearly, this is a total reversal of behavior The culprit for Vincent’s distress: A 7-inch tablespoon had lodged in his stomach .”
    “Vincent, a garbage hound is recovering nicely at home after a $2500.00 surgery.”
    I repeat, don’t worry about what to feed your dogs..oh, congratulations!

  3. What beautiful puppies. Your post brought tears to my eyes.

  4. Pingback: Lessons from the Lab: The Magic of Consistency | Striving to Thrive

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