"Oh no she didn't!" Yes, I did. But it wasn't part of the plan...
It's normal to get discouraged, but it's not OK to quit. It hurts like Hell to get so attached, then to lose them. Isn't that the point? To love them with every fiber because they can't be here but a brief time. I can't imagine I'll ever say "that hurt too much, I'll never have another dog again". If anything, the love was so profound that I must build it again.
Plus, I have to do something to help Pete get through his grieving.
This old dog who was content to survey his fiefdom from the couches in the living room and the office has turned into my shadow. I was catering on Sunday and needed to move the doggie bed into the kitchen to keep him from being dangerously underfoot.
Look at those sad eyes. Something had to be done.
No amount of loving could jolly him up.
Garrett, who'd been in hiding, hadn't fared any better.
He still keeps watch for him.
Enter the generosity of Cole's breeders. They called to offer us Cole's full brother, Luke.
Road trip Monday night!!!
Pete, everybody's buddy, was taken out first. He couldn't believe his eyes! After putting Cole's harness on Luke, it was all over for Pete.
Maybe his eagerness to be friends was a put off for Luke because he was more than just a little standoffish. We probably could've worked the kinks out, but with Garrett's prickly personality, we only let him admire Luke through the window.
In the end, we left the McAlister's without a third dog, but with fuller hearts. Luke was our therapy. Thank you, David and Susan.
When we got home at 10, Pete ate his supper, something he'd been avoiding for two days.
No comments on how the little pot belly pig could stand to skip a meal, thank you very much. Now is the time to grieve, not diet.
I expanded my search to see if Cole's father was still alive and perhaps in need of a retirement home. I discovered the original breeder to that sire and called him up. He happens to be none other than Greg Keiser, field trial champion trainer, 40 year championship bloodline breeder and kennel master at the prestigious Five Star Plantation north of Alexander City, Alabama.
Cole's dad was deceased. Five Star had some other males that might retire from hunting this year, but he had two puppies available from Cole's lineage. You see where this is going don't you? Downhill fast.
Before you think I went off half cocked on this. Let me assure you I poured over my finances beforehand: analyzing how much Cole had cost me in his lifetime (yes, I can dredge all that up from my Quicken program because I tabulate everything down to $2 convenience store purchases), agonized about the +$3000 I now owe on my own recent ultrasound and CT scan, fretted about my retirement fund, plotted out the first year of owning a puppy, plus the purchase cost (they don't give out championship bloodlines). I worried all night long, only finally getting to sleep at 5:30 AM when I took two minutes to realize how rich my life had been with Cole. Decision made: I want to be that kind of wealthy again.
To decide between two adorable lumps...
I chose the one who chose me.
The other fuzzball will remain at the plantation and be trained for quail and pheasant hunting.
The kennels, their original portion being built in the 1880's, now hold 100 dogs. This is only one wing of the German Shorthaired Pointer Ritz Carlton.
Mr. Keiser was kind enough to give me the entire grand tour of the members only 5,000 acre retreat. They've modernized the sole remaining slave quarters, retaining all its original character. The continental pheasant shooting course surrounds it.
So many other skeet and trap courses are scattered all over the property, it was dizzying to keep track of where I was.
The main lodge holds guest quarters, dining room, bar, gift shop (in case you needed a last minute $5000 shotgun), great room and conference room (handy for tax deducting that play weekend).
Sensory overload... I didn't get pictures of the 120 acre fishing lake, or 12 stall barn. All of it and the 30 full time staffers cater to 87 permanent members. Regardless of the 125k membership fee, there's a waiting list to get in. And I was given the gate code to drive right in and received the red carpet tour. It's all in who you know: technically, this was a family visit since Mr. Keiser is Cole's grandfather and Carlson's dad.
We'll be back.
On the journey home, I realized that although I'd remembered to express order puppy food from Chewy.com, I didn't have my secret weapon for growing strong puppies: organic goat milk. Crap. You can't leave even a cactus in a parked car in July in Alabama.
No choice but to pack the puppy into Kroger Grocery.
No small feat trying to go undetected in a crowded store with a whimpering wiggler in your bag.
Goat's milk in the water and used to make a porridge with the puppy kibbles is a quite scrumptious.
Mandatory nudie baby picture.
Ready to get to work.
Welcome home, Carlson.
Cole, watch over your great great great nephew.
There's now a Carlson, but there will always, always be The Cole forever and ever.