On My Shoulder

En route to our new home in MO,  we made a stop in our old stateside desert home.  Specifically, the city of Phoenix, Arizona.  The desert sun was warm and welcoming and soothing for our travel-weary souls. Our desert dwelling friends were the same. As the jet lag settled, we breakfasted one morning with a family we’ve known for years, who’ve been gloriously good to us over all of those years, and pleasantly, it appears we haven’t worn out our welcome with them yet. A veritable feast of  “American” breakfast foods hit the spot in our tummies and the feast of reunion filled the spot in our hearts.

The morning included a first meet, at least for me–not having traveled “home” in nearly 3 years,  of the newest and youngest canine member of our friends’ loving clan. A lovely labrador mix (unknown breed) who was the instantaneous, total, absolute attraction for six-year old Andrew. I had never really seen Andrew respond to a dog the way he fell head over heels for Daphne. The two of them were instant friends and her temperament seemed so suitable to counter his firecracker energy it really caught my attention.

I have long been aware of the idea of companion animals for people with special needs.  In the field of autism research there is a rising awareness of the benefits of bringing an animal, specifically a dog, into the life of a person with autism. In fact, there is a significant rise in the business and marketing of  “companion dogs” for autism.   Several years ago, I witnessed first hand what those benefits can look like as I saw one of my students (on the spectrum) adopt and settle in with a dog as his companion. The changes in his behavior and habits were marked and all of us watched that transition with much fascination. Those were the years before I had an Andrew even. All to say that it wasn’t a foreign concept at all, but  the morning I watched Andrew and Daphne together,  there was a bit of a “lightbulb” moment for me as the notion of  dog as companion for my little man seemed to cast actual light and direct a path.

So, I’ve been looking for a dog.

There are caveats to this search, or a single one at least, because I am an allergy ridden lass.  Though I grew up in a virtual zoo, I haven’t been able to offer my children that same experience without trading me in for a better model mother whose eyes don’t run when a cat is in the room and who doesn’t sniffle after wrestling a dog. It’s been a literal crying shame.    Happily, with the advent of the “doodle” dogs, we’ve been able to entertain  thoughts of having a canine in the house.

My research led me specifically to the poodle and labrador retriever mixes. I just really like the way they look and I love the description of their temperament and personality.  One day, in midst of my google search for local breeders or homes of labradoodles I found a dog who seemed to be just the dog I was looking for. After an initial email exchange, I threw Andrew into the car one Sunday morning and the two of us ventured into parts unknown in rural Illinois to meet the labradoodle who potentially could be ours.

It was love at first sight.

angel and andrew

We had a lovely visit with the dog and with the woman who has loved her for 5 years.  She needs to come to a new home because of some slight health issues which make her no longer eligible to breed.  We agreed upon the adoption without any hesitation and only had to wait until “our” dog was cleared after her spaying surgery and then we could return to pick her up. It may have been the longest 2 weeks of waiting ever recorded.

Yesterday,  I made the long drive to fetch our baby.  She’s home now. All of us are thrilled, almost beyond measure to have her here.   Andrew says it best: “This is  our dog Angel, and she’s gonna live with us a long, long, loooooooooong time!”

Welcome home, girl.



10 thoughts on “On My Shoulder

  1. She beautiful and looks so calm. Congratulations, and may she be a calming influence on Andrew.

  2. Lilacspecs says:

    Oh hooray! I’m totally not a dog person, but I understand why some people love them so much. And they definitely can be therapeutic. Enjoy your new Angel!

  3. res says:

    That is so cool!!! I am so excited for all you of – Angel and Andrew the most of course – but wow!!! Can’t wait to hear more about how the two of them forge a new friendship together!!!


  4. Goofball says:

    Reading this I really got chills down my spine. That’s so great. Glad you’ve found your angel and the picture with Andrew is just moving.

    Enjoy your new Angel, Andrew’s new best friend!

  5. How completely sweet! C was in love with a Golden Doodle who lived across the hall from my mom in NYC. There’s nothing like a boy and a dog. We have the same allergy issues here, too, which is why we have the guinea pigs, but we’ve all agreed that when they’re… sigh… gone, a cockapoo or bichon is coming our way. I love labradoodles and golden doodles, but D is already wary (he’s the allergy guy) and he would prefer a smaller dog.

  6. Loril Paluzzi says:

    Wonderful news and a great story. What a great mom to find a way to make things work for all of you. Nice piece of work all the way around.

  7. alice says:

    beautiful dog! i love the pics! i want to get a dog for my boys, but have yet to convince the feller…

  8. Dawn says:

    I was a reader from your previous blog which I enjoyed very much. I am looking forward to your new topics which are much closer to home to me (southern Illinois) than the Netherlands. I hear Labradoodles are great, good luck.

  9. Beth says:

    This is amazing! You know me, I have always felt that we are all in need of animal companions. The dogs look sweet and loving. I hope you enjoy that sweet thing. I have heard terrific things about labradoodles!

  10. Ambassador says:

    J – congrats! You had me worried that you were going to drive to New Orleans and dog-nap my little girl…

    I makes me so happy that your family found Angel – and that Angel found your family. There’s a kind of need there that works both ways. Here’s to new family members! K

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