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The Yankee Express

Living ON With Lincoln A March Puppy

Lincoln reminds me - everything will be okay.

By Amy LeClaire
New England winters are far too long. By late February we’re craving sunshine, inspiration and sandals. We need something to look forward to, something more fun—something that smells like a puppy.  
I couldn’t be happier with news that fell on my lap last Thursday night (on February 24). We were number 11 on Cloverdale’s list for a 2022 puppy, a confirmation made last June with Lincoln’s nod of approval. The dogs were part of his ancestry. So, when Cloverdale’s beautiful Molly gave birth to a litter of eight puppies during a January 31 blizzard (requiring immediate attention from owner Jane Zimmerman, who prepared for the safety and care of her dame’s scheduled caesarean section), puppy parents sighed in relief. Meanwhile, my husband and I counted our blessings. We would receive a puppy from the next litter, having moved up to spot #3; and though no birthing timelines are ever exact, we estimated a late spring litter. 
In the meantime, we would enjoy a clean home, perhaps a few spontaneous vacations, and a few more lazy mornings. Everything was falling into place. Yet something was amiss. Our Empty Nested home was beginning to feel like a blank piece of paper with a checklist. Floors, done. Grocery shopping, done. Work projects, done. Tasks were stitched together in one suspicious line. As a creative (dogless) person, I felt a bit frayed at the seams. I missed the mayhem and mess of a dog. I missed coloring outside of the lines. Nothing is more motivational to a story deadline than the heated stare of a ninety-pound Golden, a ball wedged at the side of his mouth, muddy paws. “Can you wait a few minutes, Lincoln?” His head tilted to the word wait. Then he’d lay to rest, head over paws, and that expression alone (what about Lincoln?) forced me to be more productive. There’s time for work. There’s time for play. 
Amid both, have you ever noticed how dogs lighten our loads, and make what’s, perhaps, too-perfect, a bit more precarious? Take the dog involved in a serious training session; but he’s more interested in the scent of ketchup on the expert’s sleeve. Or (in Lincoln’s case) the one who finds the small, obscure spot of exposed leather in the backseat of a new car that’s been covered with a mat. A dog lives with innocence and irony and, in the process, they pull us away from the noise of life. “Look at that person going for a walk!” His big blonde head would bloom to the sight of a new person, head out window. “We’ll go for a walk later, Lincoln.” He’d freeze to my words, connecting fully with my promise. “Sounds good.” Then he’d move back to the window, a new moment upon him. 
“Would you like a puppy from this litter, Amy?” The text message fell over me like confetti. I grabbed my phone, paced, and checked for punctuation, for meaning. “Is this really happening?” A peppery heart beat and follow-up phone call led to a blessed truth. Cancellations happen. We had moved up on the list and were able to take home a puppy from the litter of Molly and Mister Big, a Martha’s Vineyard stud. I used a foolishly large Sharpie (the first writing utensil available) to etch down doodles of puppy notes on a calendar, then hung up. “We’re getting a puppy!! And it’s happening in one month!” I spat the news to my husband, then allowed it to sail off with me to Impact Fitness, where I was scheduled to teach a 6:30 Zumba class. I parked and collected my thoughts. I agreed to get back to Jane in one day with a firm decision. There was no pressure. That puppy would be scooped up in seconds should I decline. But my heart knew. I found myself typing. “We’d love to take home a puppy from your current litter and, additionally, keep our spot for the fall litter!” Who needs an entire day to think? Fate had just lined up two puppies in the time frame we had hoped for—six months apart in age. The next litter was going to be available in the fall (at the earliest).
“I can feel your puppy. I can even smell him.” Margaret, one of my Zumba members, sensed my good news as I breezed into class. I couldn’t hold back my love for my March puppy. He was already with me. 
Luke was about to be blessed with love.
“Thank you for including me in his name, Mom.” The pup’s name had emerged easily. A biblical name meaning Healer, it came with hope in the wake of global illness, political unrest, and mental instability. It came with good news and presence. Dogs do this for us. They remind us that we will all be okay. Along with that, it came with connection to Lincoln. “Both your names begin with the letter L and have the hard C sound, Lincoln.”
“But mine has two syllables. Luke only has one.”
“No one will ever compare to you Lincoln.”
I see him smiling up at me, a touch of humor in his eyes. “I guess he can have my light blue ball.” 
Stay tuned for more puppy news as, together, we celebrate more dog adventures in Living with Luke. 
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