My family and I lost our dog of almost nine years last fall, and it’s safe to say we were all devastated and heartbroken. He was really a great dog. We’ve all kind of had this hole in our hearts for a while but we promised we’d wait until a good time to bring a new puppy into the family. It’s a huge commitment for a busy family, and we wanted to give it some time after the passing of our last dog, too.
We said February would be ideal. But my younger sister couldn’t resist searching and ignored the set date for a puppy. She stumbled upon a rescue group that works between the United States and Korea. And when I first heard this story, I was thinking of some image of a designer puppy from Korea and it seemed kind of weird to me. But when I heard the full story, I knew that we had to have one of these puppies.
The rescue group works to save dogs of all ages and breeds, and even some cats, from a South Korean meat market. Usually, they come over alone, but these puppies were an exception. Their mother was impregnated by two dogs, so they were a litter of seven with five puppies being Wheaton terrier and schnauzer mixes and the other two being schnauzer and German Shepherd mixes. They nicknamed them The Peanuts.
We fell in love with the photos we saw online, but they were in high demand and it was a long-shot. Thanks to my mom, we aced our interview and were given the second pick. Each family who applied had to be approved and then interviewed to have a puppy, and then each was given a number that was the order in which they would pick.
When it came time to meet the puppies, we were overwhelmed but eventually had our hearts set on one of the Wheaton terrier mixes, who wasn’t as jumpy but seemed to be the leader of the group. My dad likes to say he wasn’t needy but he wasn’t too timid. And so, we brought our new puppy Duke home.
Having a new puppy is exciting, difficult, and enjoyable for the whole family. But for me, it feels a little bittersweet because I’m only home from college for a few weeks. Despite how sad I’ll be to say goodbye to Duke next week, there is a lot I have learned from him. And I know that sounds incredibly cheesy, but after a difficult first semester, I’m ready to bounce back and make positive steps in my life. With a few lessons I’ve learned from Duke, hopefully, I can.
The first thing I’ve learned from Duke, as he sleeps near me completely stretched out across his puppy bed, is how important it is to take breaks. Giving yourself credit for a hard day, whether it be gnawing on a bone and practicing “sit” or going to class and studying or working, is crucial. It’s also important to know that rest is a key to being successful and productive. Naps are awesome. Duke demonstrates this well.
The second thing would be to be fearless. A new puppy is learning everything for the first time, and a puppy that has entered a new country is having all kinds of new experiences. I watched Duke learn about TV, rain, and his tennis balls. I watched him learn who we were. Sometimes he forgot, and he thought we were strangers when we came home. But he learned quickly. When we learn, work, discover and go about life, we can experience it all the best like a puppy would — with enthusiasm, no fear, and excitement.
I learned next from Duke that having fun is essential. And while I already know this well, it’s a good reminder. When Duke has lots of energy, he runs like crazy around the house, halfway dragging his hind legs behind him in an effort to speed up. He runs into walls and in circles with excitement over a meal or a toy. He has a really good time and reminds me that while life in college is centered around schoolwork and maybe a job, having balance is important.
And finally, I learned from Duke and from puppies in general that life is precious and should be lived to its fullest. You hear all the time that dogs have shorter lives to the extent that seeing their humans come home overwhelms them with joy and their days are long. I know that I need to be more present, more positive, and more focused on love and happiness in my life. Duke’s focus is exactly that. He shows so much love to all of us and only yearns for that in return. He is happy, present, and excited about living. Seems like an ideal way to live. Thank you for teaching me so much in so little time, Duke.