The Trumpeter in the Woods
Chapter Twelve – A New Teacher Arrives (part one)

By now, it’s been obvious that Caper was leading me to work with animals. Her arthritis brought dog massage awareness to me and introduced a host of influential people to my life. And after she died, it had to be her voice a week later telling me, “It’s a big world, you have to have a voice.” She had done her job in bringing me this far, now it was someone else’s turn to help me.

I was nearing the end of my training to be a certified pet behavior counselor when Caper died in October, 2002. The day after she passed away, I posted a comment in the online forum of one of my classes about her death and how sad I was. A classmate who happened to live in Quakertown, PA, about an hour and a half from where I lived, posted immediately in reply and expressed her condolences, as well as another comment that changed my life.

“Chris, I work at a vet’s office and we run a small rescue here for homeless animals. We have a 4-year-old Golden Retriever named Gizmo who really needs a foster home,” Nancy, the office manager at Mill Pond Veterinary Hospital, posted to me. “Can you foster him? You would be perfect. He needs a home with no children.”

Yes, I would be perfect, no children. But was I ready to bring in another dog just a couple of days after losing Caper? I had to admit that I was enjoying the freedom of not having to rush home to take her out for walks and feed her dinner. The last few years dealing with Caper’s illness and age had been quite stressful and I felt I needed a break. However, I was depressed. I missed my girl and the house was lonely and quiet without a dog. So I posted back to Nancy, “I need to think about it, Nancy. It’s a little too soon after losing Caper to consider this.” And that’s what I did for the next three weeks. Think about it and think about it. My desire to have another dog in my life got the best of me.

“Nancy, do you still need a foster home for Gizmo?” I posted to her in early November.

“He went to a foster home but it didn’t work out. They took him to a friend’s house who had kids. Gizmo was growling at them,” Nancy explained. “So he’s back here at our kennels.”

“Okay, sounds like he needs me. I’ll be there on Saturday.”

Saturday, November 16 arrived and I drove to Quakertown to meet Gizmo and bring him home with me. I arrived around 11:00am and sat in the veterinary hospital’s reception area as they went back to the grooming room to get him. The door flew open and out burst Gizmo, a blur of tan and white fur flashed past me as he spun around the room. He came over to me to say “hi” but before I could pet him, he ran over to the door, then back to me and around the room again like a bronco just let out of the gate.

I sat on the floor and he jumped in my lap, all 85 pounds of him, but he was off again for another spin around the room. I didn’t expect a dog with this much energy! After all, I had been living with a geriatric for the past several years and had forgotten how rambunctious a young dog can act. Even more remarkable than his energy was his resemblance to Caper. Not his face but the coloring of his fur and long, white feathering down his back legs, chest and tail. His tail was so long that it swept the floor. What a beautiful dog!

I was in love within minutes and decided to adopt Gizmo right then and there. It’s a good thing I adopted him because if I had only fostered him, I may not have kept him once his true personality came out.

Content and title copyright Christine Palm Shaughness. No reproduction allowed.