A New Year, A New Puppy

It was a year ago this week that our beloved Labrador retriever, Gracie — the sweet girl we brought home in 2004 after the death of Marley — died unexpectedly due to a rare auto-immune reaction to Lymes disease. She was just 6, and should have had many years ahead of her. We were heartbroken, of course, as all pet owners understand too well. Part of the sadness was seeing the effect the loss of Gracie had on our other Lab, Woodson.

Woodson, as regular readers of this blog know, was one of the puppy stars of the Marley & Me movie. At the end of filming, the producer and director presented him to my family as a present. We were instantly smitten, and he seemed to be, too. Gracie was his running partner, and together they would lope from one end of the property to the other, nearly nonstop. They played constantly, nipping at each others necks, tumbling, wrestling. After her death, he moped around alone for weeks. Some nights I would catch him going from room to room on all three floors of our house, and I knew he was looking for her. Eventually, he seemed to move past it, but his happy-go-lucky joy seemed to be extinguished. Without his playmate, he mostly just sniffed quietly around the yard alone. The days of running and nipping and tumbling were behind him.

Enter, the latest addition to our canine family: Wallace. If he looks a lot like a miniature version of Woodson, it might be because they are cousins. We got Wallace from the same breeder who provided Woodson to the movie studio. Diane and Joe Citro are a wonderful couple from eastern Ohio who take a lot of pride in their calm, gentle line of English-style Labradors. Woodson’s father is Wallace’s grandfather. We now have two generations of this beautiful line. (Thanks, Diane and Joe!) And Woodson again has a playmate. The puppy keeps him running and is constantly tiring him out. It’s hilarious to watch.

Wallace is 12 weeks old, and we have had him for the last four. We can already tell he’s going to be a calm dog with a great disposition. He’s making great strides on the housebreaking front, and somehow he taught himself to sit on command without us showing him. I think big cousin Woodson, who automatically sits and puts up a front paw whenever food is in sight, showed him the ropes. Life with a puppy is a little like life with an infant, and the first week or two Jenny and I were walking around the house like two zombies. The puppy was getting us up three to four times a night to go out. And sometimes — most often at about 3 a.m. — he simply wanted to lie in the grass and chew a stick. Now he is consistently sleeping through the night, which is welcome.

At any rate, a puppy photo is worth about 6 million words. So here are a few more shots of the little man.

Wallace (left) with his twin brother at about four weeks before we brought him home.

Woodson and Wallace getting acquainted on the puppy’s first night home.

I realize this probably constitutes puppy porn, but we could not resist dressing him up for the holidays.

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