In several hours, Blue, Katy, and Ash will be leaving. By Saturday night, Arlo (Neo), and possibly Lani, will have gone to their new homes. This will leave us with Mari and Tali. Mari, who I can now start to train, love, carry, spoil, and have as our own and who can now start to have a chance to start taking her place in the pack. Tali has her surgery, recovery, and therapy ahead of her. Like all the other puppies, they will both still have to be treated very carefully, at least for the next several months. The house will feel oddly empty without the endless chaos, noise, stink, puppy kisses, sound of washers and dryers running constantly, piles of towels, face fights through kennel grates, joy at seeing someone walk for the first time in weeks, wondering if that's pee or water, discovering a new mannerism, and constant comments and complaints from the puppies themselves who always seem to have a lot to say.
Patrice and I have come to know our first (and most likely, last) litter in depth. We've come to know them as little individuals, their quirks, personalities, and who they are. While there is a feeling of great sadness in seeing them leave and knowing we are seeing almost all of them for the last time, there is a greater feeling of joy in knowing that they will start finally living (almost) normal lives, the lives that Belgians need to become the magnificent companions and beings we all know them to be. In several months those lives should be completely normal in every way and they will become the Belgians they were always meant to start becoming. This has been a long, arduous, and tortuous road; some might call it a fiasco. It has been expensive, desperate, frustrating, enraging, debilitating, stressful, sleepless, and panic-ridden. It's been hampered by unprofessional and dispassionate veterinarians, and rescued by competent and passionate ones. It has been both absolute hell and absolute joy. It's been profoundly humbling as well. It has also brought out the best and most generous in our friends; Rylan, who has, with the courage, fortitude, and determination that comes from her genuine love for these puppies, traveled on a red eye flight to arrive here in Maine today, only to leave at 3AM the next morning to begin her long drive back across one coast of the US to the other, carrying her precious cargo of three little furry lives; Crystal, who in the middle of starting a new job, is flying out to meet her partway; Camilla, who has opened her home to one of the pups to foster him; Kimberly, who worked tirelessly to place these puppies; Charlsy and her husband, our new friends and members of the TPO family, who are giving at least one puppy a home dedicated to and centered around him despite his temporary imperfections, and, to all of you, who have been unwavering in your support, love, and kindness. We and the puppies have been rescued in a very real sense by all of you.
Ultimately, not a single puppy was lost. Not a single one. And in the end, that's the only thing that matters. In retrospect, one could call all of these events and discoveries....miracles. Lots and lots of miracles. And I could have not done any of it without Patrice, who I have come to realize has more strength of will and character than I do. She is the living definition of "better half".
Thank you, all, for staying with us throughout the entire ride, and for helping that ride to end happily. My gratitude is such that it cannot be expressed in words, nor is our joy in knowing these little lives will finally start to be truly lived, and life at TPO can slowly resume its way back to normal, with a new addition.
Bless you all, each and every one of you.