Welcome to the Next Year of My Life

I only got about three and a half hours of sleep between the late hours of Friday evening and very early Saturday morning. Probably not the way to begin a new journey, with sleep deprivation. On the other hand, I’m pretty sure I’ll be in a deprivation-induced stupor for the next year or so, so in that light, it was an auspicious start.

I did it. I caved. I couldn’t resist any longer.


Some 530 miles and a speeding ticket later, I brought a puppy into my life on Saturday.

Everyone, meet Rhys.

Rhys is a black and white Border Collie. He hails from Oregon. He will be making Washington his home. Specifically, my house will be his home.

Lest ya’ll think this was some sudden knee-jerk reaction or weakness on my part, it was not. Homecoming for Rhys has been in the works for several weeks.

I had been contemplating a new addition for the past year or so. Much as I love teenage dogs or getting dogs as young adults, and much as I have had great experience obtaining dogs from shelters or breed-specific rescues, I could not shake the thought of going for a puppy again.

I’ve always joked that I must’ve done a pretty good job with Youke as he’s perfect. Obviously he isn’t really, but he’s about as perfect as any dog of mine is likely to ever get. I credit his utter perfection to how he was raised as a wee puppy to how I raised him after he became mine after only a few short months in his life.

Youke came into my life sort of by accident. I’d read a message written on a big board at the place I was taking agility lessons about pups that were available. I nervously made an inquiry, figuring it was about time that I really find out if Border Collies were everything I thought they were. I was at that time in my life, in the perfect place mentally and financially to finally raise a puppy. And I had support and help. Or so I thought. Going through a separation and subsequent divorce when your puppy is under a year old is not well advised. Of course, I did not know when I picked him up that my life was about to be broken to bits for a while.

Anyway, I fell in love with Youke when his picture was sent to me via email. It’s a modern love story really. And once I heard the story of how he and his litter-mates came to be, I was beyond smitten. See, I really love nothing more than a really good and engaging story.


Look how good, and good-looking, Youke turned out to be!

So, despite the fog that was pretty much Youke’s first year in life, he turned out pretty well.

I also have a bond with Youke that I don’t have with my other dogs or have had with any other dog. This is not to say that the bonds I have with or have had with, my other dogs are less, just that they are different. What Brady and I have gone through on his journey with me has cemented us for life. Camm designated herself long ago as my therapist and indispensable right hand gal.

But what I have with Youke is those first months of his life and I don’t have that with my other dogs. That stage is crucial for so many things, but especially for early learning, how to learn and impulse control.

I had decided some time ago that my next dog would be a puppy. The question was would it be a puppy from rescue or not.

I figured I had plenty of time to decide and to look around.

About a week or two before Jasmine became ill last November, I had a dream.

Now, I dream a lot and can recall a great many of them shortly after I awaken, but I’ve had a dozen or so dreams in my life that I have never been able to forget. The dream I had in November was one.

In fact, it reminded me of the dream I had several months after I had lost Kip, the first dog in my adult life. In that dream, Kip was frolicking in the big field in front of my mother’s place, when all of a sudden a big black dog appeared and they started playing tag under the old oak tree in that field. In the dream, Kip told me he was okay and it was okay to have this dog and the dream ended with Kip bounding by himself across the field and the unknown black dog running across the stream to come see me.

The dream shook me. I’m not a religious person and I’m ambivalent about the whole rainbow bridge thing; as in “nice concept, but really?” but still very comforting to think about. I’ve had people tell me since the dream was merely my subconscious informing me I was ready for another dog. Perhaps …

My next dog was supposed to have been a six-month old black Labrador Retriever, but he ended up getting parvo at the shelter and died. However, on the same day that I saw the Lab, I saw a skinny, severely malnourished Husky mix that I could not stop thinking about and that I instantaneously named Sylvie in my head that day. She went home with me a week later.

She was not black. But she was somehow still the dog in that dream.

Early last November, Jasmine was still very much alive. Yet I had a dream that she was standing right in front of me, very serious, and looked toward a tri-colored Border Collie and communicated that this was my next dog and that she really liked him/her and approved.

I woke up in the morning, completely baffled and a bit shaken. It was so odd. Plus, I’ve never really been drawn to tri-colored Border Collies. But Jasmine had been so serious in the dream. It was just strange.

When she died only a short time later, the memory of the dream shook me even more.

Still, I had vowed not to get another dog for a while.

Fast forward to January and driving with a friend to see a new litter of Border Collie puppies. I calmly went along to support a friend, firm in my resolve and calm because I knew I wasn’t interested in a puppy and therefore this was not my circus so to speak.

Imagine my disbelief when I saw that this litter had several tri-colored puppies.

Still, they were not for me.

However, when I learned my friend would not be taking one home either (a female will best as her next dog and only males were available), a germ seed began to sprout.

I then proceeded to literally spend many sleepless nights, consumed with “should I or shouldn’t I” thoughts. This whole adding another dog thing is a serious process for me, until the moment it is not.

I sent another friend, who did take a pup from the litter, a message asking if the breeder would even consider me. See, these were out and out serious sheepdog puppies and I don’t sheepdog. Don’t get me wrong, my dogs lead big lives and do a lot with me, the least of which is agility, but while I’ve put Youke on sheep a handful of times, it’s not anything I see myself becoming serious about. Although one should never say never, right?

I was prepared for a “no” answer and would be ready to move on, but in one of those odd twist of fate moments that so often comprise life, one male pup had suddenly become available the evening before my message reached the breeder. Plus, I had met with approval. So I got this picture.


And thus I found myself falling in love again over the internet. This picture only sealed the deal.


Puppy toes. One of the best things in life.

I got about five hours of sleep total last night, after being awakened at 3:15 am by Rhys for a potty break (seriously, we’re off to an excellent start!), and then back to bed after a late evening/early morning snack.

So far, YoBaCa are a bit miffed, puzzled and very, very curious. Youke is soft and gentle, but can only deal with the new baby in small doses. Although Rhys seems to like Youke very much.


Since Youke is perfect, snuggling up with him seems like a good idea.

Brady is, as usual, conflicted. He softly wags his tail and has been very polite and gentle, but there’s no way he wants Rhys near his toys or near his freshly dug dirt holes.

Camm has been the biggest surprise to me. Naturally she lifted her lip when she first met Rhys. And she is insanely jealous of his fresh and new baby toys. But she’s also been the first one to initiate play, and appropriate play at that.

Rhys is a classic black and white boy. He’s not a tri-color. Yet as I drove home with him last night on the last leg of our long car ride, I was suddenly moved because deep down I know he’s the dog in that dream.

There will be a lot of entries in this blog over the next several months that are specific to Rhys. That will be more for my benefit as I want to journal his progress, but feel free to skip over them, or maybe enjoy them with me. Eventually, his name will somehow become incorporated in the blog as well. But time is limited right now.

Rhys just woke up from a nice long nap and I want to get him outside to enjoy the late day’s light in the woods. The first of many, I’m sure.

Footnote: Rhys is a Welsh name and the Anglo pronunciation is “Reese.” No, he’s not named for anyone. His name just came to me when I saw that first picture of him. Yes, the name is a departure from my Boston sports figures tribute theme. And yes, I’m done with that theme now. Lastly, no, I do not deliberately seek to confuse all future gate stewards on the correct pronunciation of his name. Although I cannot say that the confusion surrounding Youke’s name has not been without some degree of humor.

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