A letter to Antonio

Dearest Antonio (and all others who are about to be owned by an Irish Wolfhound Puppy),

There are lots of sites on the Internet, lots of books and specialty magazines to read, and lots of experienced fanciers of the breed, all of which will give you advice as to how to care for the lovely new puppy who has already taken over your heart and is about to take over your life. What we at the Hounds of Heaven would like to convey to you is our sense as to how to nurture the relationship between the two of you, especially in the early weeks, as that will be the template for the relationship in the days to follow.

There is such anticipation and excitement and, yes, anxiety, when it becomes time to start your new lives together. There is so much information as to what to do and what not to do. While it is very important to pay attention to the good factual advice as to the care and feeding of your wolfhound puppy, don't get so wrapped up in trying to do all that so absolutely right that you have not time or energy left to establish the mutual relationship between the two of you. The more time the two of you can spend together in the early days, the more you will come to deeply know each other, and to mutually accommodate to one another.

While it is fun to have a new little four-footed creature in our lives, it is also a lot of work and a bit overwhelming at times. The more you learn to do things together, even though it requires re-thinking routines and takes more time, the faster you will learn to adapt to one another. If you wait until the puppy is older, you will miss the time when the puppy is the most malleable and teachable. Each time we have gotten a new wolfhound puppy, we have increasingly given over as much of our lives as we can to establishing the bond between the puppy and all of us, two and four footed. While that is certainly disruptive, remember that this time is finite and the end result is SO positive. Furthermore, these little creatures change so quickly, that if you don't attune to them as much as possible, you will miss the charm of each of the stages they are passing through. How many of us parents of grown two-footed creatures fervently wish that we had only rearranged our priorities so that we could have better attuned to our children as they were developing and therefore would have received much more of the joy and wonder of being in relationship with a growing child?

We have brought home each of our Irish Wolfhound puppies on a weekend. The next Monday (two to three days later), the puppy has come to work with us along with all of our other dogs. All of our dogs sleep in the same room with us (on their own futon mattresses on the floor), and eat in the dining room/kitchen with us. This at first leads to interrupted sleep, chaos during mealtimes, and such oddities as doing psychotherapy while sitting on the floor cuddling with a little one. But only for a very short period of time! Within one week of such intensive togetherness, the puppy is already beginning to adapt to our schedules and routines as we are beginning to adapt to the personality and needs of the puppy. Within two weeks things have begun to settle down remarkably, and by the end of the first month the relationships are running along almost seamlessly. Of course, we all have to adapt and re-adapt and re-adapt as each of the dogs goes through different stages with differing needs, but the pattern has been set right from the beginning that we all can do that as a team with mutual love and respect for each other. While not everyone will be able to take their dogs to work with them as we do, everyone can re-arrange their lives for a while so that they can spend as much time with the puppy as possible.

It is our belief is that these lovely creatures are a very precious gift to human beings, sent to allow us to experience in a profound way what it can be like to give and receive ever-growing amounts of unconditional love. If we are willing, and will take the time to nurture loving, mutual relationships, our Irish Wolfhounds can help us to heal the broken parts of our spirits and blow our hearts wide open to receive much more of the goodness of life. How much, or how little of that happens is in OUR hands, because they arrive in our lives ready to give their hearts to us without reserve.

We share in your joy of beginning your relationship with your hearthound. Our beloved Hounds of Heaven continue to bring us healing and happiness beyond description.


Deborah and Bill and Fionna and Tulia and Keegan and Carina and Becka

Hounds of Heaven