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Dutch - The Amish Wonderdog

Friday, September 12, 2014

When I was six months pregnant with my first baby, Ben and I drove to an Amish farm in Southern Pennsylvania to pick up a goldendoodle that would melt my (not so crazy about dogs) heart. It was dark when we arrived. A man dressed in traditional Amish attire met us in the driveway with a kerosene lantern. We followed him to a barn where we found a litter of puppies climbing on stacks of hay. We picked the friendliest pup in the litter and brought her home in a cardboard box.

We named her "Dutch" (because of her Pennsylvania Dutch heritage). I could tell right off, that she had a kind and gentle spirit... but over the next seven years our growing family tested her patience in ways that I couldn't have imagined. The "affection" that my four kids lavished on Dutch refined her character and made her even more lovable in my eyes. She was an endless source of joy and entertainment in our busy home. In many ways, I feel as though she helped me raise my children.

Last year, when our family made the difficult decision to move to New Zealand we found comfort knowing that Dutch would have a home with her "cousin" in the wilderness of Northern California. My sister lives in "dog paradise" with her two year old daughter, firefighting husband and a chocolate brown labradoodle named "Nuka." Dutch quickly became a beloved addition to their family.

She parted with her suburban ways and embraced a more "rugged" lifestyle exploring creek beds, traversing hillsides, and mingling with neighboring farm animals. The babbling brooks, and mountain terrain "fed her soul" and made her feel free.

Last week when she was out gallivanting in the woods (enjoying her retirement) she broke her leg. It was a very bad break that would have healed with arthritis. Taking into account her preexisting hip problems and her voracious zeal for a life - we took the advise of the Etna family vet and made the difficult decision to put her down.

My dad loves dogs and had a special affection for Dutch. Almost as soon as he was out of recovery (after his biopsy) he started making hypothetical plans to have Dutch come to South Carolina as a "therapy dog".

I understand the theological complications of presuming that dogs go to heaven. But my mother-in-law reminded me that C.S. Lewis gives animal lovers reason to hope, in chapter nine of his book The Problem of Pain. It warms my heart to think she may be waiting at the pearly gates for all of us when we arrive. She was a very good dog and will be missed dearly. 

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