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Senior Correspondent

We were so anxious about bringing him home. Could we love another the way we did his older sister? Would she love him and accept him? What would it be like with two? Were we doing the right thing for our family? My husband and I weren’t anxious about bringing home a second child. That particular worry had taken place 22 years before when our newborn son, Hamilton, met his older sister, Madeline. 

No, these current worries had to do with bringing home a second dog. 

We are empty nesters, and our nest felt lonely and quiet until two years ago, when we decided to bring home Dixie, a Chihuahua mix rescued from a hoarding situation. She was scrawny, dirty, and untrained with a mug only a mother could love. Although she came with a lot of doggie baggage, Dixie wiggled into our hearts, and laps, almost immediately. 

As with many rescue dogs, Dixie yearned to do the right thing for us, and she quickly learned to walk on a leash, sleep in a crate, and master simple commands. Strangers don’t exist in Dixie’s world. She welcomes all with untamable wiggles and tickly lashes from her energetic tail. Dixie has taught us so much about unconditional love and second chances.

Yet something was missing. I felt it more than my husband, but he was open to the possibility of adding to our pack. So I began perusing the website of the same rescue organization that found Dixie. There were so many cute, small dogs, but my eyes kept coming back to Scooter, a 10-year-old Bichon mix who was put into foster care when his owner died. 

Scooter has deep, dark, soulful eyes that could melt a glacier, let alone a heart. He was described as sensitive, loving, housebroken and eager to have a family to love him.

We arranged a “meet and greet,” primarily to determine if Dixie would approve the adoption. If she didn’t like him, we agreed it wouldn’t be a good fit, no matter how cute he was. 

The big day arrived, and we eagerly and anxiously waited in the back of a pet store in Martinsburg WV, looking for any sign of a small, white dog. Sure enough, Scooter and his foster parent came charging down the aisle. 

Scooter’s looks can, at first glance, cause confusion. He is cotton-candy fluffy and teddy-bear cuddly and might appear to be a pushover. But he is a confident alpha male who boldly enters any situation with fearlessness. 

Dixie, who was waiting patiently in my lap, took one look at Scooter and sidled up to him. “Friend? Friend?” she asked, with her heart-melting urgency. Scooter answered with a cold shoulder, more interested in grabbing at the treat I offered. 

We’ve all had to deal with rejection, I thought, and I knew Scooter couldn’t resist Dixie’s affection for too long. We walked both dogs around the store, looking for any sign of aggression in Scooter. After almost 45 minutes of sitting, petting, talking, walking, and hugging both dogs, we decided yes, we would bring this four-legged, senior citizen home.

Dixie is a love bug, but even she can be bitten by the green-eyed monster of jealousy. That first was week was tough. Scooter was mourning his family and the loss of his old life. Dixie was mourning her only-child status and the loss of her old life. I spent that week alternating between dogs, holding first one, then the other, trying to help Scooter adjust to his new home while helping Dixie get over her jealousy.

It took a few weeks for things to completely settle down, but I knew the tide had turned the night that Dixie hopped into Scooter’s crate and wouldn’t budge. We closed the door, turned off the light, and my doggy children have been best buddies ever since.

Now, just as we took delight in our human children and their lovable antics, we laugh at our dogs and their individual quirks. 

Scooter plows through puddles and is nonplussed by rain or cold, while Dixie has to be pulled outside at the slightest sign of actual weather. Mild mannered Dixie graciously waits for each meal, while Scooter barks and jumps and becomes more animated each minute his food bowl is delayed. Dixie loves to be held while we read the newspaper in the morning, while grumpy Scooter, obviously not an early riser, retreats alone to a quiet spot.

We thought Dixie had taught us a lot. But Scooter has upped our learning quotient. Their friendship crosses boundaries of age, breed, size, gender, status and temperament. If only humans could say the same!

Our nest is no longer empty; our little four-legged family is now complete. 

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