|Isabella Bird on her fourth birthday|
This is a short story about how Isabella became part of our lives ... and the namesake for my blog...
Let me tell you a little story. It all started on an especially chilly December day, almost four years ago. Two months earlier, we had lost our old, chocolate girl. She had been troubled with bad hips and as time passed, developed arthritis making movement a difficult and painful process. At last, it was Awbrey’s time to leave this life, having tracked all over our hearts.
Quiet rainy days of October and November set in, echoing the sentiment of our hearts, empty. Oh, we knew we would find a new Labby that would thrill and delight us, but we were coming into the Holidays…not the ideal time to get a new puppy. Logic and reason spoke “wait until after Christmas when the whirl settles down.” Still, we watched the paper, assorted internet sites and even visited a few kennels to merely "look" at puppies. But, none of them grabbed our attention or tugged at our emotions.
Thanksgiving came and went in a blur of food and family and shopping. Work took the limelight, as expected when you are in the retail industry. Of course, there were parties and plays; decorating and baking to be done at home. The flurry of activities left no time to think about muddy paws and soft-tongue kisses.
December arrived ushering in an exceptionally cold front from the North. A blanket of snow and ice encapsulated the Willamette Valley with a lovely winter wonderland affect. If one could orchestrate how the Christmas season should look, this would be it...timelessly iconic and picturesque. Being hopelessly idealistic and loving the whole Christmas season, this was just what my soul needed. Besides, after Christmas we'd choose a new canine companion to romp into our lives. I was still casually searching the classifieds, especially ones with pictures and details about the puppies’ personalities. January's slower pace would arrive, a better time to search.
As things happen, and of course quite unplanned, one particular post caught my attention. A breeder in Corvallis had two chocolate labs left; one male and one female. Their lineage was strong and they lived on a farm, not a lot to go on...interesting. It was Tuesday, the eighth day of December. The air was a crisp10 degrees, but the sun was shining bright reflecting the ice crystals that covered the trees and grasses. I had the day off with nothing really planned. I picked up the phone and dialed the number listed on the notice.
I bundled up with my grey wool hat, black leather gloves and my boots. I piled a sage green quilt in the back of my car and made sure to grab my check book as I went out the door, just in case. It would take about a half an hour to reach the address I had been given. A shiver of excitement went through my body, or was it the outside temps?
Pulling into the drive, I was greeted by a big yellow lab, wagging her tail and smiling as only dogs do. Close on her heels was her owner, extending his hand and instructing the welcoming committee to kennel up. He suggested that I wait in the sunny area and he would retrieve the little female from the barn. And then it happened! Leaping and bouncing with gangly legs, the invasion began. I knelt down to the ground and called her. The response was immediate; dashing straight towards me, this little brown bundle planted a warm, wet kiss on my face. She smelled all puppy-like. This chocolate parcel of liveliness overran my heart with that unrestrained show of affection. Our eyes met, kindred and we both knew she would be snuggled into the blanket in the back of my car...and her name would be Isabella Bird.
Labrador Retrievers, as a species are very people-oriented, loving, extremely affectionate and even-tempered, making them great family dogs. We've had several Labs and all have been fairly mellow and quiet. Not Isabella Bird! She makes her presence known, continuing to give warm, soft kisses and bear hugs. Belle's enthusiasm is infectious and invading, filling that empty space. She is also very quirky. One minute she is racing around the yard with a giant stick in her mouth, while the next she might be cowering in fear because Oliver, the cat is stalking her.
Isabelle will curl up at my feet, lick my husband incessantly and jump over a down tree like it was nothing. She loves carrots, following me around, her ball which is her prized possession ... and going. She is my sweet, demonstrative girl and …once again, we are having tracks made on our hearts.
Let life and dogs track all over your hearts ~ Missy