Mornings in Ojai are the most beautiful to me. The early light settles gently on the day, the air does not yet carry a fullness but is, instead, still new. It is quiet as I walk. Nava, my dog walks ahead many paces down the path. Sometimes my husband is next to me, my arm through his, other times I am alone, just my puppy and me. Though I am not a morning person and would prefer to sleep in, once I am out in this morning light it is good and right and I am happy to be here.
And as I walk today, taking in the deep hanging fog that nestles into the mountains and cast a bluish glow that surrounds me, my mind goes to my sweet, smart and always beautiful dog, again many paces in front of me. It is now a year that she is here with me. Not a year that she is mine. That happened soon after she was born. But a year since I brought her home to this place of orange blossoms and full, round fruit, silent paths and today's settled fog.
Nava has a mark on her chest, a bit of white hair that is a throwback to the English greyhound lineage that is part of the Doberman breed and that reminds me of the mark on another dog of mine, Tank. Tank was a half Doberman, half Cattle Dog and was special in just that way where a dog settles in your heart, deep and mindful and a little bit different than all the other dogs that I love so dearly. Tank was truly my dog. So like me in personality, quick to react and deeply able to love, she was loyal and honest and I miss her every day. And so, when I first met Miss Pink - so called because of the pink ribbon tied round her neck to differentiate her from her litter-mates - who was to become Nava and saw that small white mark on her chest I took it as a sign that this was my dog. I had already picked her out on video when I watched the dropcam that my breeder had set up so we could see the puppies grow and thrive and do what puppies do as they got bigger and bigger until they were ready to come home to us. And Miss Pink was so my puppy. I saw her from the start. She was bright and she had energy and she was assertive. Quick to nurse and quick to play and quick to sleep and independent and she felt like me and I loved her even before I met her.
I got to spend a lot of time with my sweet dog for many weeks before I was able to bring her home. She, along with her brothers and sisters, lived only a bit over an hour from me and from only a few weeks old I was with them all. Quite a lot. I got to sit in their puppy place with them. Feel their sweet bodies settle on my legs as they slept. Kiss their small faces and rub their soft fur. And so I got to know all of them in that intimate way where, even though on first glance they looked so similar, they were each truly their own dog.
And so I loved them all. Still, Nava was mine.
But when I met her - along with her brothers and sisters - another sweet pup crept gently into my heart. Navs's red-haired brother settled under my skin as he nestled against my skin. I held him often. He needed me for he was small.
As the weeks went by, the puppies growing older and rounded, their personalities becoming more apparent as their faces, too, changed and became more unique, one from the other, so too did this small, red-haired boy soon grow strong. His belly now full and round like his brothers and sisters, he held onto his sweet and kind ways and always nestled in when I was near. I fell in love with him so completely. He too was my dog and I struggled with my decision when it came time to pick the dog that I was to take home.
And so, on one day when the puppies were sleeping, their belly's full from nursing, their bodies tired from the puppy play that filled their day, I sat on the back porch of the breeder's home and cried. For how do you choose one deeply loved puppy over another, each so different from the other.
Nava was independent she would sleep away from the other dogs against the side of the fencing that went around the room - protecting the puppies from the outside walls - so that there was no way that they could stick their little paws into electrical outlets or eat plastic bags or pull down boxes and bags onto their still small bodies. I loved this about her, her strength and confidence. She would nestle against the metal bar even while I sat in the room, all the other puppies nestled against me. My small, red boy - now named Gideon, a warrior - in my arms as always.
Choices bear gifts. Often unexpected lessons that we learn or insights that we glean from the experiences we have because of the decisions that me make. And so it is with having Nava as my puppy. But back then I did not know of all these blessings. I just knew I had to choose.
I wanted both, but could only choose one. And so, as it is with all decisions that are hard because they are important, I sat in the discomfort of having to choose and in the end, went with the choice I had made first. For I could not imagine anyone else taking her home. My sweet Miss Pink now named Nava. I could not imagine her not being with me. But I could see this sweet, red boy having a life somewhere else. I probably knew this deep inside before I became aware that I knew this. The decision was made even before I was aware that there was a decision to be made. And so my sweet puppy, who I saw from the start and who is marked on her chest as a sign that she is mine, is mine still. And my other sweet puppy lives a full and loving life with the exact family that he was supposed to be with from the start.
And I miss him, still. Because I love him. Still.
Mother, Wife, Friend, Sister, Daughter, Dancer, Dog and Cat lover.