There are very few things in life like there is in choosing to bring home a pet.
Specifically a dog.
Specifically a dog that seems to be crossed with some kind of other creature.
Knowing that, in some way, they were gifted to you from the Universe – even in times they chew your favorite throw pillows or pee in your shoe (true stories).
And understanding, in deeper ways, their timing is often that of The Big Guy himself, although we don’t understand it until much, much later.
June 3rd, 2017, was a bad, bad day. It was the day that our then our little family pup, Sean Luca (aka, “Shark Luca”) passed away.
Sean Luca had been acting a little funny that day; for the six months prior he had been experiencing seizures and bouts of lethargy on account of liver problems, so he slowly became more and more ‘out-of-sorts.’ It was also the day John and I put in an offer on our very first house. After having spent all morning with him, we left for a late lunch picnic at the beach before meeting the realtor to make the offer. In that relatively short amount of time, Sean Luca decided it was time. We were so excited, feeling so close to getting our little unicorn of a new home – only to come back to find him curled up in a cozy little corner, looking so peaceful. He didn’t stir. He didn’t come to greet us. He was gone.
The devastation was exhausting for weeks. I was so upset I didn’t get to say goodbye. I was mad at myself, wondering why I hadn’t noticed the signs and if I had just ‘been there,’ I could’ve gotten him help. I was angry I had literally just told the realtor I couldn’t wait to bring Sean Luca “home” to enjoy the perfect sunny spot on the new porch we knew he’d love. I hated the Universe for not letting him come into this new chapter with us.
A couple of months later on the day when we finally closed on the house, I woke up excited and full of energy for the first time in a while. John and I decided to kick-off that exciting day with an early morning run on the beach. We got there right before sunrise and took off down the shoreline. It was super low-tide and the beach was wide and empty. As we approached our usual turn-around point on that sticky summer morning, we look over to the water’s edge. There was a shark splashing and swimming through the early morning waves, appearing to follow us for another several yards. Just as the sun crested the horizon and we hit our time to turn back, he made one more glorious frolic about the water, swimming back off into the ocean. I had never seen anything quite light it before. And I haven’t since. Somehow, I knew, SL was saying “It’s cool, mom” – no matter where we called “home,” he was always going to be around.
Sean Luca lived a long and well-loved 13 years. His big, bold personality made up for this little chubby Chihuahua body, and he was always curious and never afraid. He loved meeting new people and leisurely outdoor happy hours and weekend lunches with us. He lived with me through some big moments of my life since college and all the transitions it took getting here to Hilton Head. Sean Luca was a regular at my last full-time job in Columbia, SC, hanging out with me during my shift to greet new friends and give his opinion. He LOVED the beach when we moved to HHI and would bark like a maniac when I asked if he was ready to go, his enthusiasm only rivaled to the daily “Wanna go potty?!” dance parties (I secretly still want to get t-shirts with his face on it that say, “Live everyday like you’re about to go ‘outside’.”). He was my cuddle buddy when I fell into moments of anxiety and depression. He was my little furry FitBit who made sure I got up and took a walk every hour or two in my new #soloprenuer life. His favorite treat on the planet was, of all things, watermelon and carrots, although there was no way you were going to throw a yogurt cup away without him properly licking it clean. The only thing louder than his ‘tough guy’ barking was his old-man snoring, and I couldn’t sleep at night without hearing it. He brought joy to people when he took on his Shark persona – this stuff wrote itself, and admittedly, John and I loved planning new adventures for him.
He just fit.
And I was convinced there wasn’t going to be another to take his place.
Then, a few months later, being alone in a new house while I tried to balance my evolving role in the community and shape of my business, I decided to open myself up to maybe adopting another little fuzzy butt. We spent a couple of Saturday mornings going to area shelters and looking at adoption sites. We thought we wanted an adult dog – we didn’t have a yard and we didn’t want a rambunctious puppy sabotaging our new place, so we needed something a little more calm. We met some great dogs who were sweet and lots of fun, but nothing felt like that “fit” with Sean Luca. One rainy Sunday afternoon we went to visit the Hilton Head Humane Association. And there in the front lobby was this squishy little spotted pup, laying in the far corner of the pen on the floor. He seemed pretty out of it, even shy, and wanted nothing to do with the visitors who tried to pet him or get his attention. They called him “Chandler” – and it was fitting because all I could think was, “Could he BE anymore awkward?” The front desk lady encouraged me to get in the pen with him, even though we had watched several people get in there and he was 1000% disinterested. Also, I told her we were already interested in mature, adult dogs. I politely declined.
After striking out, again, with a handful of attempts to connect with a few dogs, we decided to leave and come back another time. The lady encouraged, again, for me to get in the pen with “Chandler.” I not-so-politely declined this time, but John said, “C’mon, why not.” I got in, sat on the opposite end of the pen on the floor and said, “Well, hey little man…” He perked up his sweet little face, puppy scooted low across the floor, and carefully crawled in my lap, burying his teeny little face in the crook of my arm. Then, soft puppy snoring. “S**t,” I whispered to John. “We’re going home with a puppy.“
We brought him home the next day and promptly changed his name to Bogey. John and I both landed on the name independently, for different reasons but weirdly and quickly coming to agreement, and over the next few weeks, this scared, shy, docile pup blossomed into a smiley, happy, super-social little guy. Every day he started to feel more and more like a part of the family. Although, I was still feeling guilt and apprehension over losing Sean Luca only a few months back, wonderful if we made the right decision.
About a month after bringing Bogey home, I took him to the vet for his first check-up and next round of shots. The HH Humane Association had given me a packet of info to take the to vet when we adopted him. I had never really even looked at it until that day. We’re waiting in the check-up room for the vet-tech to see us, and I pull out his current records. Holding this squishy little doe-eyed pup in my lap, I look and see what they estimate to be Bogey’s birthdate: June 3rd, 2017.
It hit me like a bag of bricks, and a swell of tears gathered in my eyes. My arm-hairs stood on end… Sean Luca knew exactly what he was doing. And my friend said it best: “When you’re ready, they send you another one.” Sean Luca sent Bogey to us into this new chapter. His work was done. (And the vet-tech came in seeing me crying and laughing like a crazy person, saying, “Don’t worry, the shots aren’t going to hurt him that bad!” Oh if she only knew…)
I could never really bring myself to write a properly fitting post to say good-bye to Sean Luca, but as Bogey hits his first birthday on the day we still remember how our lives have changed so much in the last year, I suddenly feel at peace knowing his little sassy, brave, comforting presence is still around. Bogey opened up a whole new place in our hearts. They’re insanely different animals but both so perfectly “fit” our current stages of life. And I appreciate them both so much because of the other.
So, I’m not sure what Bogey’s story has in store, but I do know he’s got his tough-guy guardian shark angel keeping an eye on him. And on us.
But seriously, what would our worlds be like without ’em?
I’m grateful I’ll never really have to find out.
Hugs & High Fives,