Every now and again, an opportunity of a lifetime comes along. Such was the case when I was asked recently to judge a dog show on December 11 in mainland China, a country I have always wanted to visit. I knew the trip would be a long one—two days, including layovers and the journey from the airport to Shenzhen, a very modern city in the southern region of China, west of Hong Kong. Along with judging an all-breed dog show there, I would judge a special obedience competition by the 22-dog police K9 unit from the region. The most difficult part of the trip? Leaving behind my young puppy Bart for the 6 days I would be overseas.
Puppies grow and develop quickly! Every week of Bart’s young life is very important in shaping his attitude and building his skill set toward the day when he will become a full-fledged diabetic alert dog. I am blessed to have a very capable and talented puppy-raising partner in my husband, Sam, who stayed home and cared for Bart, the farm, and all the other dogs and critters. A lot did happen while I was in China—the pup grew by almost 4 pounds!
Sam takes the pups we raise out daily for a car ride. Some days they visit stores or places where they get to meet new people or experience new sights and sounds. One day while I was in China, the pups went to the local feed store and met the resident fat cat, who has seen it all and was not impressed with them. But for the pups, it was an opportunity to learn how to respect this finicky species. They also met rabbits and saw songbirds fluttering in cages, both new experiences that help them build confidence when encountering new things in the world. Bart is getting much more proficient at climbing stairs, walking on a loose leash and waiting at doors. He is a natural ham for attention, so sitting to be petted comes easily for him. Sam also got the pups out for long walks in the fields at our farm—great exercise for growing bones, and a good education in new smells, sights and sounds.
Perhaps the biggest change that occurred while I was gone is that Bart has a new name. We found a family who will welcome this furry bundle of joy into their home after his training is completed. So far this family and I have been communicating remotely, but come January we will journey to visit them in person. In the meantime, they have asked that I change Bart’s name to Charlie. He is responding well to his new name.
I’m thankful pups are so flexible. They remind me that maybe we put too much stock in things that really don’t matter that much. Not a bad thought as we approach the holiday season. In the words of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: “Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.”
Have a safe and happy holiday.