Heeler : Healer

This time last year…..

We were staring down another lonely holiday for fear of infecting loved ones with a deadly disease.

There was a vaccine, a miracle really, but not readily available quite yet to us normal folk.

We were terrified and tired.  And, frankly, tired of being terrified.

And then….

We welcomed into our home a new creature, a puppy.  This was no flight-of-fancy pandemic puppy, as we had done a lot of research and were biding our time hoping for a blue heeler, or perhaps a dog with heeler in the mix.  After the mass exodus of our two beloved big dogs, River, then Iris and our cat Ian, in late 2019, early 2020, the house had been feeling a bit empty and quiet with only Charlie left to snuggle.  We took nearly a year to think about it all, and to adjust to life in a long term pandemical era.

Eventually we got word that there were some puppies in northeast Ohio on a farm, a litter from a couple of working dogs and would we like one.  We took the plunge.  And into our lives came wee Philomena.

Her litter mate had gotten car sick on their drive to Columbus where we met up for puppy hand-off and so she smelled like puppy kibble and puppy breath combined.  We took her to our daughter’s apartment for a quick bath and then we drove back home, wondering what we had gotten ourselves into.

Those first weeks are a blur of setting Phil up for a life of routine and structure and of course love and play and learning.  She is intensely smart and took to all of it with little trouble.

We were fortunate that Charlie opted to stay healthy and well for a bit longer with us as she taught Philomena what it means to be gentle and respectful of the boundaries of other dogs.  For this I’ll be forever grateful to old Charlie, whom we lost this year.

Philomena is a wise little thing.  She carries in her a depth of personality and an old knowing, often found in smart dogs.  We simply adore her company.

She still carries in her some of the silliness of her puppy personality.  Once cold weather came back around this year, she once again began burrowing under her bed, something she did when she was very small.

Of course now she’s a bit  bigger.

I’ve spent much time observing and sketching this beautiful dog.

This gets more and more difficult, the older and more active she is.

Now just over a year old, we are riding out the adolescent times with Phil, teaching her patience and impulse control.  She is still very much a puppy in terms of energy and excitement.  But she is a friend to all who know her.  She has opted for a career in the field of fetching a tennis ball after some inquiries into other jobs like squirrel chasement, herding ball nipping and dead-animal seeking.  Chasing a tennis ball seems like a safe bet for a long lasting career.

She’s very good at her job and takes it all very seriously.

Happy gotcha day Philly.  We love you to the moon and back.