New puppy a gift from above

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“Dogs have a way of finding the people who need them.”

— Thom Jones

Anxiously pacing away a couple of days while awaiting word that our traveling puppy was nearing Ohio, put me in mind of a nervous expectant dad in old movies.

When my daughter’s lifelong friend, Lindsey, let me know we could start our trip to meet up with our puppies in northern Ohio, it was late on a chilly June evening. I ran upstairs to grab a sweatshirt, put some treats in my pockets and Lindsey took the wheel.

SearchJudith Sutherland's puppy Kip

The search for a farm dog with lineage to help keep the black and tan English shepherd strong was one I had postponed because the hurt of losing our majestic Billy was too much. Lindsey had found a pup in Oklahoma she wanted, and through those connections, learned of this southern-born male. Uncertainty slowly gave way to excitement.

I had chosen a name but waited to lay eyes on the 6-month-old male to be sure. When this sweet pup leaned into me, tail wagging, every single thing felt right.

Kip Calhoun of Brigadoon is a sensible pup, eager to please. He doesn’t look past me to see what’s going on in the world. He looks to me, his eyes meeting mine, waiting for me to let him know what’s going on in my world. Shades of the amazing Billy, already wise beyond words.

A picture was snapped just moments after Kip stepped out of the van and into my arms. The joy that shines through in the picture is genuine, with the pup leaning against me as if he had just found home.

“Having a dog will bless you with many of the happiest days of your life, and one of the worst,” I read not long ago, and it spoke volumes.

When I realized Kip was born on a farm in Texas just as the frantic search for our missing Billy began, it about knocked the wind out of me. As we laid Billy to rest in our chestnut pasture, newly born Kip was just getting his eyes opened. How this pup found his way to us took many small connections made by others, each little unforeseen step bringing this pup inching toward us from so very far away.

Watching Kip explore, it is great to see him gaining a bit more confidence each day, but always quick to check back into one of us. He is gangly, in his ugly duckling stage, just as Billy was when he first landed here. The pup shows a healthy, reasonable interest in our sheep. When they gather and bolt across the pasture in a tight flock, he picks up on my calm demeanor and lies down at my feet. No worries.

Good dog

Working with Kip the first day, I walked him to the sidewalk while I intentionally and unnecessarily moved a vehicle just the slightest bit, watching him closely. He stayed in his spot, curious but obedient. I went back, praised him, then repeated this. The third time, I walked from the house and simply started the truck. Kip ran to the sidewalk and sat.

Praising this sweet pup moved me to those happy tears that come from pure joy. How did I ever get this lucky? There were angels working overtime, that’s how.

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Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, in college.

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