This post is our entry into the BlogPaws Blog Carnival Contest sponsored by BISSELL Homecare, Inc.
They say in life when one door closes, another opens.
Sometimes, though, it doesn’t seem like one door closing but a whole hallway of slamming doors. Boom, boom, boom, they shut.
In our case, the slamming began in the summer of 2007 with the death of Hershey, our lovable Springer Spaniel-Newfoundland mix. At the age of 15, however, her loss was not a shock. That wasn’t the case a few months later on New Year’s Eve when a routine vet visit for our dear Australian Cattle Dog, Alby, became a final journey as she suffered a massive coronary right in the waiting room.
Then the next few months were spent learning more about canine cancer as we helped Yoda, our 14-year-old Schnauzer mix, through treatment. His spirit—never too tired from chemo to greet each treat and walk with a happy wag—remains with us although he is now gone.
Through the years, our three longtime dogs had grown accustomed to our work schedule and lifestyle. As travel writers and Caribbean guidebook authors, we usually made monthly trips, researching the next assignment for three or four days at a time.
But then yet another door slammed—one caught by a gust of economic wind that hit the travel industry with the effect of a recessionary hurricane. After over 20 years of writing nonstop, we—like so many Americans—were finding ourselves in search of work. We knew it was time to expand beyond our travel writing. We decided to use our time at home to mull over our next career move.
With our travel schedule slowed and our once dog-filled domicile empty, we began to search shelters for a new family member. We searched online and found another dog who looked just like our Alby, located in a shelter about two hours away from us. We checked to make sure they adopted out of the area and once we got the go ahead, we jumped in the car and headed down to adopt. We knew she was just the right dog for us.
Until we met her in person.
We finally realized we’d been searching for another dog to replace our Alby and that just wasn’t possible. She might look identical but she wasn’t the same dog, and it wasn’t fair to expect her to be.
We stayed at the shelter for four more hours, looking at all their other dogs. We kept returning to one kennel, to a six-month-old lab and hound mix. Shy but friendly and sweeter than sweet, she just clicked with our personalities. She’d had a rough start in life and had some serious scars that the vet speculated were from dog fights, and she had demodectic mange but, to us, she was perfect. We brought her home that day and named her Irie.
Irie—whose name is a Jamaican patois word that fittingly means “all’s good”—brought so much fun into our home that a few months later we were in search of a companion for her.
This time, we headed to our local shelter. On their website, we’d seen a litter of boxer puppies that were as cute as could be. We headed there and checked out the puppies…but all the while we were being checked out by a furry six-month-old mixed breed dog in the next pen. When we went to pet the boxer puppies, out came a furry white paw to get our attention. The mixed breed dog leaned against the fence, she grinned at us and, well, the rest is history. Tiki came home with us that day.
When taking Tiki for her first vet visit, we brought Irie along—determined she’d never have Alby’s fear of the vet’s office. When we explained to another person in the waiting room about Irie’s accompanying role, she remarked “what a great tip for dog owners.”
Later, on a thrift store visit to buy heavy jeans to make a bed the puppies couldn’t chew, the clerk mentioned what a good idea when we explained why we were buying so many jeans that weren’t our size. And it got us thinking…
What if we could transition our travel writing into dog writing? Two decades ago, before our marriage, Paris had written an article for Reader’s Digest about my childhood pets: a best-friend dachshund and duck combo. Maybe it was time to trade in the luggage for leashes and loving licks. Soon, DogTipper was born.
And, we discovered all over again, the joy of writing about what we love. Now, although we still travel, much of it is dog-related, as we join a community of dedicated dog lovers like ourselves. It’s all thanks to two shelter dogs who have made our house a home.
We learned that, after all those closing doors, a new door can open. And, when you’re really lucky, that door is a dog door.