I adopted my third dog to get over the pain of losing Nicodemus.
I heard it’s common to compare one pet to another. A love like my first dog was a once in a lifetime. Nicodemus was like a child to me. I may never find another love like the love I had for him. But, I was sure as heck going to try.
I had never been a multi-dog household. The logic is this: the more dogs we love at once, the better chance we have to distribute our devotion. It kinda saves us from pouring our heart out for only one animal. Self preservation for the inevitable, I suppose.
The photo of ‘Elvis’ caught my eye. The description of this rescue puppy is what intrigued me most. The name “Elvis” was Nicodemus’s adopted name. I about fell over. As luck would have it, Elvis was listed as a Border Collie/Australian Shepherd mix. Even more curious and exciting, Nicodemus was a Border Collie/Australian Shepherd mix! Life would be perfect again. A puppy—just like my Nicodemus.
At least that’s what I thought.
I called him Enzo because the name means ‘Ruler of Household.’ As it turns out, there was a reason why he was rough around the edges.
He and his siblings had been thrown out with the cows by a ten kid Amish family. The family wanted the mother dog, but decided they didn’t want her 5 puppies. Animal Control contacted North Star Border Collie Rescue. Sadly, when they arrived on the scene, there were only three puppies. In a heavily wooded Michigan area, filled with coyotes, the pups had no mother, nor any neonatal socialization. They had no choice but to fend for themselves during critical weeks of their new life. As the story goes, Enzo witnessed his missing litter mates being eaten by a coyote. Without proper nurturing, this farm dog came to me with his share of insecurities.
Enzo was going to be a tough one.
As I watched Enzo wrestle with his blue fleece blanket, I must have been delusional to think he wasn’t worthy of a story all his own.
I missed the way Nicodemus would crank his head when he listened. Left. Then right. Then left again. When I talked to Enzo, I longed for his head to lean in like Nicodemus’s once did. But instead of a tilt, I was met with unreliable glances, and a furrowed brow—two brown dots above Enzo’s eyes.
I guess in the right light, you could see a resemblance of the two dogs. Nicodemus was all black, with one white leg. Enzo is all black, with one big attitude. Well, Enzo is sort of black. Brownish-black really. Actually, Enzo is more brown than black. No white leg—just one itty-bitty white hair poking out of his behind. I hoped that Enzo would grow into the same happy, Nicodemus tail—a 360 degree, playful curl. Enzo doesn’t have a circle tail, just an unkept flag that sweeps back and forth as he scampers away.
This new dog was not silly sensitive like Nicodemus either. Nicodemus would kiss away my tears and make friends. Enzo is feisty and quite selective with his friends. Nicodemus was sassy, but nothing like this little guy. Enzo seeks out trouble.
And another thing, blankets. Those darn blankets are always all over the floor.
One could make a full time job of picking up after Enzo. Every time I fold up a blanket, another one is dragging across the floor right behind it. Nicodemus never dragged blankets. Enzo pulls blankets out of his toy bucket like a magician pulls rabbits out of a hat. What’s the matter with this dog anyway?
Then it occurred to me, there is nothing the matter with Enzo.
Enzo wasn’t like Nicodemus at all—he doesn’t even look like him. The two brown dots above Enzo’s eyes were made especially for Enzo—not Nicodemus. Enzo will never be Nicodemus because he is too busy being Enzo.
Tears of joy filled my eyes. “Enzo, I just can’t love you like I loved Nicodemus.” The room fell silent. Enzo’s piercing stare suddenly softened. “I love you because you’re Enzo.”
And then I smiled as he kissed away an unexpected tear. (Sigh) All at once, laughter filled the room. “Enzo, now go drop your blanket in the bucket!”
*Note From The Author: Nicodemus, I will always be yours. For today, I am Enzo’s mom.
Christina Bournias resides in Michigan with her 3-pack; three new beautiful adopted miracles. As her “Angelwriter”, Nicodemus (1997-2010) is the wisdom behind the stories she shares. Christina champions the magnitude of building the bond between a dog and their person(s) by means of respectful communication and enduring admiration.
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January, 2014: American Pet Magazine | V3 Issue1, Page 18,19