Some of you may have read when I wrote about my beloved standard poodle, Poirot. I haven't talked about losing Poirot in October after three months of illness, which were much more painful for my husband and me than for him. Those three months were excrutiating and the sense of loss was terrible. Even though you know that it hurts to lose a pet and you are sympathetic whenever a friend or family member goes through that loss, when it happens to you, you are gob smacked all over again by how much it actually hurts!
Even my vet, Dr. Cohen, was saddened by the loss of Poirot. She sent me flowers. Then the staff at Friendship Animal Hospital sent me flowers. Finally, the hospital made a contribution to their research program in Poirot's name. I was really touched by their kindness and sympathy for my grief.
My husband and I resolved that we would go without a dog for a few years - well, actually my husband resolved that we would go without a dog for a few years. We would wait until our daughter Lise Courtney graduated from the MBA program at the University of Chicago and we caught up a bit with family and life in general. After all, it is harder to get away when you have a fur baby at home we told ourselves.
Right - well you know how those rationalizations end. At least, they ended for me with intense searches of the poodle rescue websites within a week or two. My breeder had retired and had no puppies to ease the pain of Poirot's loss. I started the search with the closest rescue site - MidAtlantic Poodle Rescue which is located in Baltimore and I branched out to New England, down south and out to the midwest - sure that my poodle was there waiting for me to rescue him or her.
Poirot was named for Hercule Poirot, the dapper and brilliant Belgian detective with a glorious moustache in Agatha Christie's mystery series. The two seemed to be perfectly matched since my Poirot was clearly brilliant as only poodles can be and he had intelligent brown eyes and a bit of a moustache when he needed a trim. We had talked occasionally of what we would call our next poodle - Miss Lemon (Missy for short) for the long suffering secretary to Poirot? Or perhaps Captain Hastings (Hastings for short or maybe Captain?) for Poirot's friend and side kick. We weren't sure. Maybe we would get a female and call her Agatha. Who knew?
Then I found him. Arthur was there waiting for me on the Mid Atlantic Poodle Rescue site. His previous family had given him up because he was diagnosed with Addison's and they chose not to deal with his condition, no doubt for emotional and financial reasons. Addison's is a condition involving insufficient function of the adrenal glands and is common in standard poodles. It is very manageable with a monthly shot of percortin and daily pills of prednisolone. Poirot was diagnosed with Addison's when he was about two years old. When I saw that a family had given up a poodle because he had Addison's I knew this was my dog. I had no problems dealing with an Addisonian poodle. I already have a great vet, who has become a true friend through the years of treating Poirot. I knew that Arthur belonged with us.
Then there was the question of the name. Captain Hastings, Poirot's good friend and cohort, is actually Captain Arthur Hastings. The stars had aligned. This lovely black standard poodle had to be ours.
I called the rescue organization and asked about Arthur. Someone else had already put an application in ahead of me. She was a nurse who lived in Baltimore, close to the woman who runs the rescue group. The nurse would be able to give Arthur his monthly shots. She lived in Baltimore. She was ahead of me in the running! I couldn't believe someone else was going to get my Arthur.
I explained that I had lots of experience with Addisonian dogs. I would get my vet to give Arthur the shots. The woman on the other end of the phone listened patiently. She had to let the nurse have first dibs. The nurse was supposed to get back to her at the end of the weekend. I told the woman that Arthur's name was perfect in our family. She was sympathetic!
After a few more days of waiting, I called again. The nurse had not followed up with getting Arthur - and he was ours!
We picked up Arthur the Monday after Thanksgiving and he has been with us since. Like many rescues, he is very skittish. I think he was abused by his previous owners. He is not everyone's friend like Poirot was - but he is much more affectionate once he gives you his trust. I am excited to watch him relax and become a secure young pup over time. I will keep you posted!