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  • Writer's pictureVictoria Wright

The Second Child

Four years ago when our son was about seven it was decided that we would get him a dog. We named her Noepe (Wampanoag word for Martha'sVineyard). He promised us that he would care for her, walk her, do poop patrol, and give her lots of love. Most of that proved to be true. Noepe is a cattle dog part Kelpie, Blue Heeler, and Aussie Shepherd. True to her breed she attached to one person - me. With a hard start to life she was not a "normal" loving puppy. One that always wanted to be cuddled and held. It took three years for her to enjoy and ask for our affection.

We always planned to get Noepe a partner in crime, not only as a playmate but also to help alleviate some of her anxiety. We had reservations about how she would react, but we knew a puppy would give her the opportunity to just be a dog versus solely our protector. Just like when I first saw a photo of Noepe, when I saw Shunka (Lakota word for dog) I heard loud and clear this is the one. She looked like a Noepe mini me, both having those distinctive Kelpie markings. Within 3 days we completed the application, had a home inspection and were headed to Boulder for the family to meet our potential new family member. We knew right away she was the one, but we had to make sure Noepe agreed. They met, social sniffs were exchanged and then the chase was on. They ran and chased each other around the yard for the next half an hour. The deal was sealed and we brought her home that day.

Shunka's start in life was more loving than Noepe's thus she was a cuddle puppy. We hoped Noepe would take on a maternal role, but she chose to be the older sister. Bossy, loving only when needed, and the one who made the rules of the house. If the puppy didn't want to play, Noepe wanted nothing to do with her. She would share toys and bones, but share her bed - that is where she drew the line.

Working dog breeds are known to be very smart, so training contines to come quickly. Noepe has been a great example for Shunka, but as we are learning every day - she is a DIFFERENT dog. They may look the same but these two are exact opposites. Noepe is reserved. Shunka will greet anyone or thing that looks her way with licks and wiggles. Noepe only barks when absolutely necessary. Shunka barks at pinecones and anything else that moves. Noepe will lounge in the sun. Shunka prefers an air-conditioned house. The one thing they both have in common is how much they love their boy.

Managing a second dog on walks, the extra hair, and toys all over the floor I am reminded everyday to: 1) see both dogs for the individuals that they are 2) to not compare, and 3) to enjoy the little quirks of each dog. I envision that these are the same lessons that parents of multiple children are constantly being reminded of. We have had Shunka for a month and a half and can't imagine our lives without her. Shunka was brought into all of our lives for different reasons, but in the end she is here to remind us all to live life to its fullest and to do so with love.

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