Not too long ago, I said to my hubby “Do you realize we are back to having a Lab mix and a Beagle, just like when we had Maggie and Kobi?” He had thought about it, and we both thought how funny life can be, when things can circle around to being similar to where we were many years ago.
We got our first dog, Shelby, a terrier mix, right after we had our home built. Long time readers might know that I have not always been a dog lover…you can read here how I came to be one. Once we had Shelby, I was hooked on dogs. We lost her at a young age to lymphoma and that was when we got our Labrador retriever mix Maggie. Maggie was around a year old when our beagle Kobi joined the family.
We took those dogs camping, boating, and hiking, and those were some of the best times of our lives. We also lost Maggie at a young age, and from there went a little dog crazy and added three more dogs to our family!
That changed things a lot, and we no longer did those activities, but were happy to spend more time at home with our larger family, including the multiple cats we also had at the time. We had neglected our home upkeep, and probably our cats to an extent, when we were always out having fun. That change was a good thing, and camping and all those fun things were just not the same without Maggie anyway.
In addition, taking four dogs anywhere was just too much for me. The two goldens and our beagle Cricket loved to play ball, so staying home mostly and playing ball kept them happy. We took the goldens swimming some, and each dog for solo walks, especially Kobi who had no interest in playing in the yard.
That’s how things were when I started the blog. Over the last few years, we have seen three losses of dogs, the loss of all but one of our cats, and the only addition has been our Lab mix Luke (not counting the farm birds – which we do consider pets!). Our golden Sheba became my more frequent walking partner after losing Kobi, since she was the only one who was not at all reactive, and walks with her could be relaxing.
Still, I hated listening to the barking and howling from Luke and Cricket when we left, but walking the three of them together was still too much. Recently, as I walked Luke and Cricket together, it struck me again how we’ve come full circle. While I still miss Sheba every single day, I am content to have two dogs that I can walk together.
Our new home provides quiet roads and woods trails where I don’t have to worry about their reactivity quite so much. I am a shy introvert and the truth is, walking Sheba and Kobi and stopping to talk to people when we passed our neighbor’s houses was not ideal to me. Now, being mostly alone on our walks is exactly how I want it too.
I worried a bit about Luke and Cricket’s relationship after we lost Sheba. Luke can be jealous, and he went after Sheba more than once when she was getting attention. Sheba had always been low dog on the totem pole, so she did not fight back. Cricket had always been the bossy one, and I feared if Luke went after her she would fight back and it would not be good.
Now that some time has gone by, I feel like they have settled into a good relationship. Luke still shows some jealousy, but since Cricket mostly ignores him, that doesn’t seem to be an issue. I hope that our pack walks are helping that relationship, and I know they sure aren’t hurting. Cricket puts Luke in his place when he’s bugging her (you’ve seen the videos) and Luke respects that. I don’t know that they’ll ever be the best buddies that Maggie and Kobi were, but it somehow feels comfortable to be back to that original pair of breeds, and to be walking two dogs together again. I think they make such a cute pair too.
I put Cricket on my hands-free leash which I still love, so I have an extra hand for wrangling Luke, distributing treats, and this time of year, swatting at bugs!
I am nothing if not a realist, and it bothers me at times knowing that Cricket will be 13 years old in less than a month. 13 scares me a little bit, our beagle Kobi only lived a few months after his 13th birthday, and he was the oldest dog we’ve had. I’m also worried about a cough she’s developed, and we’ll be visiting the vet with her next week.
We don’t plan to add to our family now, other than the farm animals. Luke’s issues keep me busy enough, and I don’t spend as much time on those as I’d like to even now. Samantha is 15 and she will be our last house cat for a while, though we do hope to get some barn cats at some point. Sam is, happily, quite healthy right now (knock wood), we’ll give you the details of her wellness visit to the vet last week soon.
Cricket’s loss, though hopefully far in the future, will bring us back completely full circle: in a fairly new (to us) home, and a one dog family (and hopefully multiple cats even though they’ll be outdoors cats). Who knows what other changes that will bring though? Luke does seem to be settling down a bit lately, so maybe in the future adding another dog to the family won’t create the drama I fear it will. In time we should learn if he can be happy as a solo dog, or if he might want a sibling.
Things are unsettled with our jobs as well, another thing that circled around over the years. My current place of employment was also the first place I worked when I was in high school and we lived just down the road. Many years later, circumstances put me in touch with my old boss when I was unemployed, and over 20 years later I’m still there, though the end of that is near.
Starting the farm has been something new and exciting. I have a feeling that life will find a way to work the rest of it out, as it always does, and whether the changes are different or the same, we’ll find the same contentment and happiness we always manage to even through the tough times and the losses.