New dog helps owner heal from loss of friend

Emily Brown, Opinion Editor

Editor’s Note: This is a continuation of the column “Forever Friends” in the August issue of the Tiger Print
A week after my best friend died, our vet, Cheri, called us.
She had a male puppy named Winchester who needed a home.
Winchester had been living at the animal hospital with his brother, Remington, for pretty much his entire life. Though he spent most of his time in a kennel, it was OK because his brother was there with him.
But a nice couple came by and decided to adopt Remington, leaving Winchester without his best friend.
Cheri sent us a few photos and our entire family was smitten. We had to check him out. We needed something to distract us from the emptiness. Sophie’s empty Budweiser pitcher. The empty treat drawer. All of her favorite spots, empty.
It might sound insensitive. But I needed a new dog to replace the lingering sadness of her death with the joy of a new beginning.
I fell in love with him the moment he jumped out of the our vet’s minivan and into my arms.
He was the cutest darn thing I’d ever seen.
The five-month-old puppy is an English Setter mix. He has a white body, a black face and pink paws.
He also likes to bite my nose.
Within five minutes of his arrival, he had tackled me to the floor, nipping and licking my face with gusto.
Cheri shook her head with a smile. “Well, now he knows who his playmate is.”
And that is how it went. My dad became the disciplinarian, my mom became the walker/feeder and I became his playmate.
The emptiness drifted away, being replaced by frustrated happiness.
Potty training sucks. So does standing out in my backyard at midnight so he will go pee. Apparently, he is scared of the dark.
But having him greet me when I wake up rocks.
Seeing his tail wag when he sees me is the best feeling in the world.
I will never forget Sophie. I’m just making room in my heart for another best friend.