November swept in on Halloween night, with high winds and plunging temperatures. When I woke on November 1st and threw back the covers, I could feel the first hint of winter in the chill morning air.
Sipping coffee, I browsed through email and caught up on the news. And then I caught myself doing something I’ve done for several Saturdays these past few weeks: visiting the website of the Atlanta Humane Society and looking at photos of adoptable dogs.
Chelsea, our dog for the last decade or so, passed away in April of this year. The day she died, we held each other and cried. In the moment, it seemed our hearts would never mend. Time has dulled the pain, but we still catch ourselves looking for her when we come home at night, and, lately, I’ve been increasingly aware of a dog-shaped hole in my heart.
Today, I caught myself making a list of little dogs: a year-old Australian shepherd mix, a wiry little rat terrier, and a ginger-haired four-month old with a wide grin and big brown eyes.
We talked a bit about them at breakfast, and on the way home, Clyde passed the turn toward our house and steered the car toward the Humane Society on Howell Mill Road.
The puppy room there is bright and clean, redolent of deodorizer, with a swishing, whooshing white noise maker that mimicked the sound of the windy day outside. We strolled the aisles, peering down at the tiny pups, all on the planet for less than a year.
One, red like a fox, stretched up to greet us. Another, white with black splotches, threw a little tantrum, banging his metal bowl against the wall like an unhappy inmate.
And on the far side of the room, a little ginger-haired pup with bright eyes looked up at us as though she recognized us. She came to Clyde immediately. She loved being held. She snuggled. She leaned into me and sighed.
I admit, too, a little déjà-vu: there was a shape to her face and a feel to her coat that stirred old memories of Chelsea. But we had talked about this, and the need to find a dog we could love for her own special qualities — not just because she reminded us of a loved one long gone. We moved on.
We walked through the room of older dogs. We did a second pass through the puppies. And there we were again, with a little ginger pup in our arms. And again, she seemed to belong there, to know us, to be perfectly relaxed and in no mood at all to be with anyone else, anywhere else.
I turned to Clyde. “What would we name her?”
He looked out at the trees whipping back and forth, at the leaves caught up in fierce spirals, at the people in the parking lot hunched over and shivering. “Windy,” he said. “Because it’ s a windy day.”
An interview and a short drive later, and Windy Day McParks was home. She took immediately to her crate, plopping down inside, completely relaxed. She pounced on Little Red Dog and Mou-Tse-Tung, the only two toys of Chelsea’s we kept, and spent a happy hour joyfully tossing them around the living room.
And on her first walk, she took to the leash like a pro, doing exactly what a puppy should do outdoors and greeting much larger dogs with a calming charm. After a snack, she napped in my lap, and now, she is asleep between us, and we are once again very much in love.
Born July 23rd, 2014, and added to our lives on All Saint’s Day, when the veil between the two worlds is said to be at its thinnest, and the spirits of departed loved ones brush past us in the chilly breeze, Windy Day McParks feels right at home in our little condo … and in a way, for the first time since April, so do I.