My “Once in a Lifetime” Dog

Although I have always been a self-described “dog person,” most
of my childhood was spent canine-less.   My family had a golden retriever, Gracie, who died of cancer when I was just three. Gracie had been my parents’ first baby, and it took them a long, long time to get over her. They always talked about how she was a “once in a lifetime” type of dog—that one amazing dog that sticks out among the others. My dad claimed that most dog owners are usually lucky enough to have just one of these
dogs in their lifetime. Therefore, he argued, they are extremely difficult to replace. But twelve years after Gracie’s death, and after years of my brothers and I badgering my parents, they finally said yes to us getting another dog.

My mom contacted a golden retriever breeder who had just two puppies left from her latest litter—a boy and a girl. Having had such a good experience with Gracie, my mom was pretty sure she wanted the female. However, she wanted to go to the breeder and see both before we made the decision. Upon arriving at the breeder, we were shown into the room with
the two puppies. The girl immediately ran over to us, jumping and yapping
excitedly. The boy, on the other hand, calmly scooted his chubby body across the hardwood floor to greet us. At three months old, he had yet to grow into his paws, and he slid around the floor as if he was ice-skating.   We watched with amusement as the two puppies played with each other. There was a small end table with a flat shelf about two inches from the floor that the girl puppy kept easily jumping through. The boy, trying to keep up with his sister, attempted to hop up on the shelf. Unfortunately, his
clumsiness prevented him from making the jump. He ended up sliding off the side of the table, landing back on the floor with a soft thud. I picked him up, and he snuggled into my arms. I was amazed at how calm he was, especially for a puppy. He happily licked my face, his tail wagging. I knew this chubby, clumsy little fur ball had to be mine.

Today, Charlie is my best bud. At six years old, he is still hopelessly uncoordinated, but his sweet and mellow temperate have stuck with
him, too. His constant excitement and unconditional love for my family make up for all those long years we spent without a dog. I finally understand what my dad meant—Charlie is my own “once in a lifetime” dog, and I couldn’t be luckier.

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