7 years.

Wyatt Earp the Boxer

Wyatt Earp the Boxer

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2005 will be a year remembered for caring for Doc Holiday, my boxer of 6 and a half years who in January that year, was diagnosed with Lymphoma. There were countless long drives that year to take Doc to his oncologist for chemotherapy. Doc did improve and go into remission for a couple of months and then right after Thanksgiving, got sick again and passed away on December 3rd. I was devastated.

One night before the holidays that year, Doc’s oncologist called me to ask where to mail me his fleece coat. She had laundered it and wanted to send it back. After giving her the address, she then asked if I had met with any boxer breeders yet. I told her “no”. Then she asked me about doing online research for my graduate degree and I told her that yes, I had done considerable research. Then she suggested I do similar research on Boxer breeders. And so I did that over the sad 2005 holidays and found a sweet little Boxer puppy who was in Lawton, Michigan.

Seven years ago today, I drove to Philadelphia International Airport’s area for picking up freight to pick up my Boxer puppy flying in from Michigan.

A small blue crate was there for me but the tiny puppy just did not want to move from the back of the crate. I tried reaching for him but finally the airline employee at the counter held the back of the crate up while the puppy slid forward towards me.

My eyes welled up when I saw the puppy’s face and I held him closely on my chest. He was so very small and seemed incredibly frightened. After connecting flights to get to Philly, I could imagine the strange smells and sounds he must have experienced.

I left the airport carrying the puppy in one arm while carrying the blue crate in the other. Driving back to my elderly parents’ home, I held the puppy close against my chest while driving with the other hand.

As usual, my parents and especially mom thought I was crazy to get another dog but I let their comments go in ear and out the other.

Wyatt is the fourth Boxer that shares my life since the first one I had when living near San Francisco in 1985. The longest I have ever had one has been right at seven years. So there is some fear I have about loss. But I choose to focus on each moment and each day and work hard to stay in the present.

It’s been a quiet day. I heated some sliced roast turkey pieces with nonfat, low salt broth as the “gravy” Wyatt likes on his special kibble. He is what my grandfather used to call the Boxers I grew up with – a “gentleman dog” who naps on the sofa and sleeps on the bed. At 85 pounds, he is surely no pocketbook dog like I see so many young women walking around with.

But I do understand the intense love a person feels for an animal as well as how it feels to be loved so unconditionally. Wyatt Earp loves his mama and I’m very grateful for that and for him. One day at a time.

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