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It's been a sad and lonely year since I lost Rocky the Maltese, and more than three years since I lost Ruffy the Westie and best-dog-ever.

I filled my days as best I could without a furbaby of my own. First of all I volunteered to pet-sit for friends and neighbors, and ended up with a fairly busy spring and summer schedule. I ended up with a few months worth of all sizes of dogs staying at my house when their folks went on vacation, several weeks of cat-sitting for a kitty that stayed at her own home while I visited her twice a day, and one week of chicken-sitting. Whew.

Secondly, I made many hopeful visits to the pound, and came away in tears a couple of times for the almost-but-not-right-for-me furbabies. In every case they were adopted within a day or two, but the act of walking away and leaving them there in jail hurt horribly. I spent many hours on as well, but after a couple of inquiries and immediate rejections realized that many shelters simply were not interested in adopting out-of-state to Alaska. I read regional ads as well, and learned that there are quite a few pet advertising scams/predators, especially on places like Craigslist, who are obvious fakes trying to rip off folks willing to pay to have pets shipped to them. (Some of these were outrageous and infuriating - folks who seemed to be using an English-language translator - and assuming that Southeast Alaska is adjacent to Arkansas so they could "ship by truck" if I only send them the funds in advance by wire or money order to Africa.... Do they really think we're that stupid? Do they get takers?)

Last but not least, I told everybody I know, friends, former coworkers, neighbors, vets, dog groomers, and anyone who would listen, about my quest for a little dog.

...and one day at the end of August Ruffy and Rocky's former dog groomer called me about a little Shi Tzu/Toy poodle mix that she grooms whose owner needed to find her a new home. I called the owner that day, visited the next, we hit it off immediately, Lena and I, and I brought her home the first week of September.

Lena is about a 10 pounder, with a bit of pudge. She looks like a Shih Tzu. (Or maybe an Ewok.) The only indication of her half-poodle heritage I can see is in her surprising ability to jump on furniture way over her head, and perhaps in the softness of her fur. She is a total cuddle-puppy whose goal in life is to spend as much time as possible on my lap, although she does like to take walks. She loves people, but has not socialized with other dogs much and we have some work to do there, but in general she's just a wonderful little girl.

I've had a couple of eventful months since then, with a death in my family requiring some travel, and the associated emotional upheaval. Having a sweet cuddle-puppy at home has been such a wonderful gift. So I am giving special thanks this Thanksgiving for the arrival of Lena the love-bug in my life.

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