It was a hot September, Saturday afternoon when I went with my Dad to pick up the Amish farrier. When we arrived, he was in the shed finishing up a previous client, a blue speckled gray mule, so we would have to wait a bit. His five children were shed where he worked with new books that had just arrived from Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. I was asking about the books, but soon the three little girls were more interested in all of my beaded bracelets and my painted toes! They were suddenly very interested in counting individual beads on the bracelets and touching my toes as they counted.
The oldest girl ran inside to get a box of her prized possessions, some beads on a strings, small toys and a water whistle. In wanting to show off her treasures, she blew the whistle which sent the mule straight up in the air. Her father quickly ejected her from the shed. I went out with her. We decided we needed more water for the whistle. As we walked toward the pump, a small head peeked around a water trough. It looked like a little wolf with a gray and black face and ears as big as its entire head. The canine was looking directly into my eyes. The girl ran over and pulled the puppy from behind the trough.
Three weeks earlier, I had lost my three-and-a-half-year-old Heeler/Rottweiler mix, Riva. She was at the vet getting a puncture wound in the roof of her mouth cleaned. The dog died coming out of sedation. An autopsy showed the dog had lung cancer. The lungs had become a tumor, the tumor had punched through the heart wall. The blessing was that she was sedated and with the vet when the tumor ruptured. I was devastated as this pup had replaced 12-year-old Atty. Atty was the best dog I had ever had. I had lost Atty and Riva both to lung cancer in less than four years. I was not ready for a new dog as training Riva had been a full-time job. Looking back, I see her ill behavior was probably her trying to tell me that she was in pain. I needed a puppy break and I still had my elderly Beagle, Stella.
The girl sat on the ground holding the tiny puppy in her arms while telling me, “I love this puppy. I come out first thing every morning, pick her and love on her.” I had mixed emotions watching the beautiful sight of a girl and her puppy: heartbreak, sadness, gratitude, joy, love and awe for the beauty of life and love of animals.
Looking into the girl’s big, blue eyes I replied, “You have a beautiful puppy.” She looked me in the eye and said, “Do you want this puppy?” Without any thought, I put out my arms, took the puppy and said, “YES!”
I was not ready for a puppy, whatever that means, but in the moment I knew that was my dog. Jolene picked me on September 7, 2019. We have not looked back. She has been easy to train and she goes everywhere she can with me. She is always happy and she loves nothing more than being with Stella and I and making us happy.
Jolene seemed to be a fitting name as the kids had new books from Dolly, I live in Nashville and Jolene is a favorite song. She is a pure Australian Cattle Dog, aka Blue Heeler. She is the furry love of my life.