I wrestled with the idea of getting another dog right after Ares. Was I ready for it? Was I ready to commit the time and energy for a dog that wasn't Ares? I still don't know. But I know that I hate the silence in the house; not just the audible silence but the silent space that is now void that he used to fill.
I've lost a few people very important to me when I was younger so I suspect I didn't have the emotional capacity to really feel the pain then. The loss of Ares was so deep; I still feel my stomach tense up knowing he's not here. I haven't really felt that before if I am being honest. So to imagine bringing another dog into my life that might result in that pain again is also a very hard idea to face.
Initially I went back and forth with the idea of rescuing an older dog, a dog that was 5 years or so old. I felt more ready for that. But, as I discovered there aren't many rescues that will adopt out older shepherds to families with young children. My husband was also not really comfortable with bringing in an older dog whose prior experiences we may never know - that is 100% due to having a small child as well. When you raise a dog you really know them to their core. At least we knew Ares that way. He loved our son immediately and knew how to be gentle with him. I don't know how. But he did. He was very much in sync with us.
It had to be a puppy. What an undertaking a puppy would be! I have the most fond memories of Ares as a puppy but I also remember how much work it is. We were set on a shepherd and shepherd puppies go from 10 pounds to 40 pounds in the blink of an eye. They go from cute little fluffs to strong, energy-filled land sharks who require mental and physical stimulation. A lot of people don't realize that when they go to bring one home, we didn't know it ourselves when we got Ares but we are active and smart so we did our research and got Ares some training.
That was not the case for Shea. At just four months old, Shea was posted to Craigslist. I had been browsing shepherds on a Friday night when I saw her listed there. I was instantly concerned for her, big dogs like her can end up in the wrong hands. I showed my husband her picture and contacted the poster about her.
Her owner wanted more for her than we wanted to pay (since we didn't know how much of an investment we'd have to make for shots and such). So we went to bed that night without any real plans to adopt her. The next morning I was sitting on the couch when I hear my son saying something I couldn't quite make out. He comes to me from the other room and shows me a pink tennis ball, "Ares ball," he said repeatedly. I am always amazed he remembers Ares since he couldn't say his name when he was alive. I also have no clue where he found the tennis ball. About an hour later I hear from Shea's owner who asks if I am still interested.
Long story short, Shea was in the back of our Jeep with my husband on the way to our
house. My husband texted me when he went to pick her up "Holy sh*t, are you kidding me?" I didn't know what he was referring to at the time (and since it was a Craigslist transaction, I was worried) but once she was in the car he called me - his reaction was to her looks. She looks a lot like Ares. This I did not realize from the photos of her in the post - I saw that she had the bicolor coat pattern but the almond-shaped eyes, lankiness and satellite ears weren't obvious in the photos.
Shea has only been with us 6 days and she is certainly reminding us of the work required for a shepherd puppy. She does jump and mouth our toddler but we are working on that. She's a skinny thing and a picky eater but she's one of us now.
I am doing my best to not compare her to Ares and to not expect the same from her. So far, she has surprised me though. She is smart, she certainly has a great demeanor and she's quirky too. She always finds an air conditioning vent to lay on - she likes to be cold which fits right in with my husband and son. She hasn't been trained but quickly picked up on sit, down, come and stay. Like Ares, potty training has been pretty easy (fingers crossed).
I think, in some way, Ares picked Shea for us. So, I can't say I know the right time to move on, but for us I think he sent us a sign that morning when my son came in with his ball. And now Shea is our newest family member.