Sunday, November 11, 2012

Avery Mae

The story of Avery and her place in our family really begins with a story of another precious lab named Roux that was in Andrew's life way before he knew I existed. She was a true companion - and enjoyed everything from duck hunting to naps and football games. I remember the first time I visited Andrew's house and met Roux and I realized then how special she was to him.

Around the same time that me and Andrew got engaged we realized that Roux was sick. I was at home in Mississippi finishing up my last clinical rotation and five hours away. We had been noticing a terrible odor coming from her mouth so Andrew took her to get her teeth cleaned at our vet's office. They discovered that the odor was a result of kidney failure and that her body was collecting toxins that her kidneys were unable to filter. Apparently she had been born with bad kidneys and we had never known. Our hearts broke for this precious pet who had become our friend. We prayed for God to heal her body and comforted her as much as we could. She had become so weak that she was no longer as energetic or playful as she had once been. I did my best to comfort Andrew over the phone and visited on the weekends when I could. They told Andrew that she would steadily grow worse and it would be really rough on her. He had to make a decision that no one wants to make. My heart ached for him and for Roux who tried so hard to act herself. We spent as much time with her as we could and loved on her more than most dogs know in a lifetime. Andrew made the decision to let her rest peacefully instead of suffer through her last days. We each grieved her loss in different ways as she had been so special to us all.

When I visited Andrew his house had never been so quiet or felt so empty. I knew how deep his love ran for animals and wondered if he would think about getting another dog. I never asked because I wanted to allow him his time to grieve Roux and knew that eventually he would bring it up. Andrew has a blanket that Roux loved to sleep on and I never really looked at the picture that was on the blanket - it was a fleece and I never thought much of it. One night at his house he unfolded the blanket for me to show me the design. It was a picture of an older black lab and a smaller chocolate lab looking up to her. He told me that he felt like we should get a chocolate lab next and completely surprised me by saying that he had already been looking into breeders. It only took him a few weeks to find a breeder in South Mississippi that had some puppies but we had to wait three or four weeks to get them.

I'll admit that I was unsure of getting a chocolate lab - neither I nor Andrew had ever had chocolates, we had each had only black labs before. I don't know what I thought would be different about them but all those uncertainties were gone the first time I saw little Miss Avery Mae. We dwelt over her name in those weeks waiting to get her and it took us the whole four weeks to finally figure it out. We had two other names in mind that we were trying to choose between when I saw the brand name "Avery" on something and immediately knew that was it. I told Andrew and he immediately knew as well. Andrew had already told me he wanted her name to be something related to hunting and I wanted her name to be something that wasn't overused. The name "Mae" just so easily fit and we got her in the month of May so it made sense. The weekend we were supposed to pick her up happened to be Mother's Day as well and since I was about to move to Louisiana, I felt that I should spend the weekend at home with my mom. Andrew begged me to go to South Mississippi with him to pick up Avery, but in the end I chose to spend the weekend with my mom. He snapped a picture of her when he first put her in the truck to send to me and this is the first picture I saw of her -

That sweet face! I was instantly in love! And I had to wait several days to see her! Andrew kept torturing me with several other pictures...

And here we are the first time I saw her! I thought she was the most precious thing I'd ever seen.

She is now almost eight months old and she has been through so much with us.

She has helped me study for boards...

Taken road trips to visit her family in Mississippi..

 Spent time with us at Smith Lake..

She even got to visit with us for a little while during our wedding reception! Hopefully I will have some of those pictures from our photographer later. But she has brought so much joy to our house - I have never lived with an inside dog before and was a little hesitant at first, although I would never have been able to change Andrew's mind anyway. She is definitely the most spoiled dog I have ever known. Her favorite thing is going to Andrew's parents house and chasing their chickens around inside their pen. She has literally worn a trail around the outside of the pen from running laps.

Andrew is training her to be his duck hunting partner and so far she has caught on really well. We will see how things go when he takes her next weekend. She can sit, heel, give kiss, fetch & shake hands. She just learned "shake" and is so proud of herself that she is constantly wanting to shake hands.

She just wants to be everywhere we are. She is even sitting here with me as I write this. She loves everybody - and has made good friends with the mailman at Andrew's office. Oh yeah, Andrew is able to take her to work with him everyday. Can you say rotten? 

She loves sitting at our window and watching the squirrels run up and down the big oak tree in the front yard. 

If you don't have a pet to love you are definitely missing one of the most loyal types of love you will ever experience. 

We love our Avery Mae. And we have been so blessed by all the love and laughter she brings. Although my shoe collection has suffered a few losses due to her intense love for chewing, it is so worth it. She just loves no matter what, no matter what kind of mood I'm in, no matter how terrible I look when I wake up in the morning - she is there to shower me with kisses. She teaches me everyday about unconditional love and what it means to be a true & loyal friend. And I'm a better person for all the lessons she teaches me.

How has your life been blessed by a pet? We would love to hear your story.


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