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(c) 2011 Sherman Lambert

Here I am at just over a week since the end of the Puppy Fever Tour—Furgus is slowly (quickly?) integrating into our lives. But that’s not all—we’ve also added Sam—or 1st Samuel as he’s known here—since we came home.

Yes, we’re just that crazy for young life around here. While Christiana and I were out springing Furgus from Arizona, Sherman was at home walking and falling in love with Sam, a two-year-old liver and white English Springer Spaniel. He had recently arrived from Cheyenne, WY and was available from English Springer Spaniel Rescue of the Rockies, the group that brought us our much missed Fordham over a decade earlier.

Now, most people would have waited until they were not going to travel anymore before they welcomed another dog into their home. Sherman, however, is so tired of loss that he preferred to have in-your-face proof of life, even if it meant being squished in the 4Runner with two dogs, one puppy, one wife, one daughter, and a few other items on a 6 ½ hour (or more) road trip to take Christiana back to Durango for her summer work job.

(c) 2011 Trina Lambert

Perhaps the need was made even clearer because we rushed home from yet another memorial service—this time of a longtime friend’s mostly healthy and active mother—to receive Sam into our home.

One moment we were saying goodbye, and the next, hello.

First, however, the rescue group wanted to have a behaviorist arrive along with Sam to assess how well the dogs were all going to mesh together. Happily, they all passed the compatibility test and before she left, we were “trained” a bit on both positive and potentially troubling body language signs.

Sam has been a wonderful addition to our family. Furgus can mostly turn his admiration and sharp puppy teeth toward Sam and leave Abel, the elderly dachshund, be. Abel is ecstatic about Sam’s arrival since Furgus was fascinated by his tail (new experience!) and didn’t seem to get that just because he was small didn’t mean he was young.

From the first hours, Furgus was happy to follow behind Sam as he secured our perimeter by marking every fence post, tree, and blade of grass.

Although not ideal, we did make it though our two day back-to-back car trips with few problems, other than discovering Abel has a tendency toward carsickness on long road trips. (Well, we still need to replace Christiana’s not inexpensive headphones that Furgus snagged when all but 1” of cord was tucked securely in her backpack—as responsible puppy owners, it is our duty since she was not being careless.) On the mountain passes, Furgus discovered that not only does he like snow, but he loves it! All in all, the dogs did well despite being bored.

(c) 2011 Trina Lambert

Turns out everyone fared a bit better than I did. After all, I’m the only one who was in the car for a full 2,600 miles last week. Tuesday morning, for no obvious reason other than my week of inactivity, my lower back went out in a way it never has before. The irony of the timing is not lost on me. Surely my hubris and some poor timing plans led me to this place.

Nonetheless, I’m doing what I can to stay home and work on creating our new life together, even if Sam is going to have to wait for those runs I promised him. It has helped that Jackson arrived home for the summer on Monday and brought friends. It was love at first sight for both guys and dogs and helped me greatly since my back is limiting me—the dogs are going to be so disappointed to discover the friends were only temporary guests.

As tough and challenging as it is to integrate a puppy and young dog into our home, I can feel the healing already—even if my back can’t yet.

I am so much happier now, yet watching the dogs wrestle together surprised me with feelings of raw loss. One minute I was holding Abel, soaking in their complete joy and utter physical capabilities and the next I was thinking about how he was watching with pure longing—he was an old man (dog) wishing for younger days.

(c) 2011 Trina Lambert

That’s when I saw them all—Duncan, Chelsea, and Fordham—all my dogs who had crossed over that Rainbow Bridge. That’s when I remembered my first baby’s brokenness near his end when I was steeped in my days with two preschoolers and references from our lives together. As Duncan’s hips refused to work together and sat down without his consent, I used to think of Buzz Lightyear, armless and falling, singing, “Clearly I shall go sailing no more . . .”

As I broke into deep sobs, steeped with my previous losses and Abel’s impending goodbye, Sam stopped his play and bounded to me. With another leap up, he was in my arms, straining to wash the tears from my face.

Goodbye/hello all rolled up together.


(c) 2009 Christiana Lambert

In honor of Fordham “McKook” Lambert (aka Whiskey, Kane, and Frisco) December 23, 1999 – March 6, 2011

I can tell the difference already—the house is cleaner. The floors aren’t all covered in hair, dirt, and pine needles just minutes after having been swept. And it’s quiet here—way too quiet. Turns out I must like chaos after all.

No, chaos wasn’t Fordham’s name, but it very well could have been.

When I met Sherman, I didn’t know anything about English Springer Spaniels—I’d grown up with a Pekingese dog—and, ironically, I still loved dogs!

Yet the first time I came to visit Sherman at his house, I couldn’t take my eyes off his dog, Duncan, who barely took his eyes off Sherman. That dog thought Sherman was God. I can promise you that you receive no such adoration from a Pekingese.

Sherman will tell you I married him for his dog, but that’s not quite true. Still . . . if Duncan thought so highly of him, how could I not? Soon after we got married I convinced Sherman that Duncan was lonely and needed another similar friend.

Youth is rash and soon we came home with Chelsea, an English Springer Spaniel, we had found through a listing on a grocery store bulletin board. She and Duncan were not alike at all. Chelsea came with a lot of baggage from being chained up to her doghouse. She was not properly socialized, that is for sure. Still we trained her and she learned to trust and we to love.

Add a couple babies to the mix and our house became even more chaotic.

(c) 2000 Trina Lambert

The children grew and first Duncan died and then Chelsea four years later. Despite the easier lifestyle without indoor/outdoor dogs, we headed straight back into chaos when we agreed to adopt a seven-month-old English Springer puppy.

What we didn’t know was that he was as big then as our other dogs had been as adults. However, we were aware that he had already worn-out the welcome mat at three homes and had three names, none of which he claimed.

If we thought we had known chaos before, we were sadly mistaken. When we announced his new name to our long-time neighbor, she asked if the name meant, “As in you can’t afford him?” Wasn’t that the truth! Fordham hated to be bored and so we had a variety of textures and types of toys for him. We went to a behaviorist for advice. We kept a crate on each level of the house for sanity’s sake.

When the rescue group said he needed someone in the home during the day, they weren’t kidding. Since I was a writer, I thought we were a perfect match. What I underestimated was the amount of trouble one pup could get into as soon as I slipped into one of those writing reveries where time disappears. Really, it only took him a couple of minutes to go from actively chewing on a toy to ripping the couch ruffle or nibbling on the piano leg.

School started a few weeks after Fordham arrived. Every morning he and I would take the kids to school, but if I even thought about hitting the keyboard for a few minutes before our training walk, the guy would come in and throw a big paw across the keys. Yes, I was starting to understand why the behaviorist told me I shouldn’t do anything for him without making him do something for me first—this dog thought he was born to be the Alpha of our household.

(c) 2009 Christiana Lambert

Refuting that concept would have been easier to do without the actions of our eight-year-old twins—or the “Great Undoers” as we called them. Despite our visit with the behaviorist, they just wanted to play with him and he with them.

To say we were exhausted in those first months is an understatement. I couldn’t believe I had gotten to a calmer parenting point in my life only to take in a much more destructive baby. And yet, there is no way I was going to be one more person who failed him. For several months, if we put him in the car at a non-routine time, he would cringe as if we were taking him away for good—we were his forever family—it was just going to take some time.

Just like your own children, puppies know how to endear themselves to you just when you think you cannot take their behavior any longer. Those first weeks he would cry a little when we sent him to bed in his crate. He’d look at me with those should-have-been-illegal-puppy-dog-eyes and I would sing to him. Lullabies I knew, but also things like “I Can’t Help Falling in Love With You” and “Amazing Grace.” Grace he definitely needed.

I don’t know when it happened, but we all got used to one another—even though we had to maintain constant vigilance to stay ahead of his hijinks. No invisible fencing for him—who cares about a little pain when there’s a squirrel involved? He had clever ways of leaving the yard and we had to devise even more clever ways of keeping him in.

(c) 2009 Christiana Lambert

This guy was a character—one we dubbed as president of the Kooks of America club. The only people who didn’t love him were neat freaks (so what if he was a championship slobber-flinger?) and people who didn’t appreciate a klutzy dog accidentally running into their knees.

Age and joint problems caused him to slow down, but never to lose his personality. When we introduced Abel, an older foster (supposed—he’s still here) dachshund, into our house two years ago, Fordham was somewhat offended. And, until his last days, he did his best to flop down on the guy or push him out of his little doggie bed while leaving his own larger cushion vacant. Abel liked him anyway and, I suspect, he liked Abel back, but just didn’t want to share anyone or anything with him.

(c) 2009 Christiana Lambert

I’ll tell you for selfish reasons I expected to have Fordham around to comfort me after my mom passed. He has always been my confidante—in fact, he was our only dog who seemed to come to me when I was upset and who was willing to remain with me the whole time. He was also our best dog when any of us was sick—he was content to stay with whomever was stuck on the couch or in bed. As much as he took in upkeep, he gave more back.

I’ve learned that no two dogs are alike regardless of the similarities within a breed. Despite the chaos, I couldn’t have afforded not saying “yes” to taking in Fordham.

I couldn’t help falling in love with him . . .

This past Christmas my kids were hired by the next door neighbors to care for their dachshunds, Peaches and Ralph. We’ve always been a big dog family—we are on our third English Springer Spaniel. Fordham is the biggest—and messiest—one we’ve had. Although I grew up with Pekingese, I understood Sherman’s fascination with bigger dogs.

Of course, maybe falling in love with Duncan, his first “baby,” was what changed my mind. Duncan could run and hike with us. He could sleep outside. He only needed to eat once a day and his bladder lasted all night (well, I won’t get into his Springer bladder from his younger years!) He didn’t spend time on the furniture (not if Sherman knew about it anyway!) Soon after we got married, I convinced him Duncan needed a friend. That’s when we got Chelsea, a dog that put the hyper in the Springer image.

Duncan and Chelsea were part of our family until the ends of their lives. When we wanted to adopt another dog, we didn’t even consider another breed. Springers are friendly, happy dogs that love their families—but not the mail carrier, it seems. OK, they are also fond of mud and weeds, can have too much energy at the wrong time, and don’t possess the daintiest eating or drinking habit, but they suit us.

However, Christiana fell for Peaches and Ralph for all their small dog traits. They love to cuddle, no matter the time of the day or night. Fordham, on the other hand, considers 8:00 p.m. his bedtime and is pretty much off duty on the love sponge scene until at least dawn. Christiana considers after 8:00 prime love sponge time, so she was wishing she could steal Peaches and Ralph—but that would not go over too well with Jen and Don!

She was all set to adopt her own dog, until we reminded her that college is a short 18 months away and I don’t think they’re going to take kindly to dachshunds in the dorms! So, we compromised and let her volunteer to foster an older dog.

We picked up Abel Saturday from the Plum Creek Dog Show. He is a very happy guy, especially for someone who is in his elder years and is basically homeless. Fordham, however, is not accessing any feelings of charity—Christian or otherwise—for this usurper of his attention. Abel is also not afraid to check out Fordham’s chew flips (rawhides)—which may matter even more to Fordham than our love does!

If you want to adopt Abel or check out other dachshunds, go to the Colorado Dachshund Rescue site for more information. Unless, you’re still a big dog person, then check out the English Springer Spaniel Rescue of the Rockies.

So now while Christiana is at school, I spend my time keeping the two old boys apart as well as I can.

And, shh, don’t tell Fordham, but Abel is on my lap right now while I write this. That’s just not something you can do with a 65-pound dog. The big dogs may get the porch, but they don’t get the lap!

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