For most of my life, I considered myself a Cat person. Dogs require so much more energy and attention, they chew things to bits, and you can't leave them alone for a few days with a big bowl of food and a supply of water, while cats are mostly self-sufficient. Dogs need extensive and consistent training to be able to function well with humans, cats only need to know how to use the litter box and hide under the bed when strange characters come around. For a person like me who is by nature a wee bit on the undisciplined (lazy) side, cats are a much better fit.
But then we got Muirne. And while I know that not every dog we have will be as great as she was--maybe none will--she gave me hope that there were dogs out there worth putting forth all of the effort for. I also came to realize that dogs are great for kids, and kids are great for dogs. And that I feel safer at night with a dog in the house if Abe is gone. And that a dog is a great companion to take on a walk with you. And they're ever so much more fun to play with than cats: Muirne would spend hours fetching sticks in water, Radley will claw your face off if you try to give her a bath.
So when we lost Muirne, I knew we'd get another dog. In James Herriot's books (All Things Bright and Beautiful, All Creatures Great and Small, All Things Wise and Wonderful, etc.), he always counsels his veterinary clients who have lost a dog that they should get another soon, and I figured this was wise advice. I started scouring Craigslist and the classifieds for a suitable dog for us. Most of what I found were purebreds, and we are really mutt kind of people. So when I saw this listing for a littler of "Lab mix" puppies, I knew I wanted to call. Turned out the mother was a Lab/border Collie mix, and the father was unknown. Still, both of those breeds are highly intelligent and good family dogs, and the price was fair, so after twisting Abe's arm (just a little bit), we drove up and picked ourselves out a good one.
She was without a name for a while. We have almost impossible (and oddly indefinable) standards for names, and we knew that any "typical" kind of dog name was out. I made several lists with names from movies we enjoy, literature, and various mythologies, almost all of which got tossed out. Even when it came down to the final list of 6 (Ailis, Harper, Teagan, Tierney, Zora, and Hazel), Hazel didn't stand out to me at first. But then I had the kids vote for their favorite, and had Abe vote, and Hazel was the clear winner; it's different, it's cool, it's old-timey, we know no dogs with that name. I do think the kids believe her name is really Basil, which would be fine, too.
We've only had her for three days, so it's impossible to tell where she will fall on the list of Great Dogs We Have Known. But so far, so good!
She's Hazel, and we love her!
Note that she's wearing a red collar and using Muirne's red leash. It's our way of nodding to our dear girl. I still think about you all the time, friend.