During my grief after losing Major,  I started searching for Golden Retriever breeders online. On the quiet drive home after saying goodbye to Major the first words I spoke to the boys were, “We’ll get another Golden someday.”

Through Major’s illness, I learned a lot about the health of Golden Retrievers and what you wanted to look for when looking for breeders. My thought was that maybe I could find a breeder that was expecting a litter later in the summer. Maybe by then we’d be over our grieving and ready to welcome a new guy into our home.

After hours and hours spent looking, I found a breeder who checked off all of the boxes for all of the things we were looking for. She had an online questionnaire to complete for those interested in a puppy. I quickly filled it out, including the story of everything we had just gone through with Major. Yes, that’s right. I was using the heart-wrenching story of our dead dog to try to get a puppy.

Before I knew it, there was an email response from the breeder. She had read our application and was touched by our story. They actually just had a litter and had one male puppy left. She was going to keep him for herself, but after hearing our story knew that we would give him the loving home he deserved. He would be turning 8 weeks old the following week and after his next vet visit would be ready to come home with us. Then she attached this picture…

As if I’m going to open this picture and say, “Yeah, no thanks. I think we’ll pass.”

We took it as a sign. Of course, I immediately felt guilty. Like I was being disloyal to Major. But I also knew that this little guy would help us in our grieving process. Okay…he would help me in my grieving process. Truth is, I had woken up several nights in the middle of the night only to start crying a deep, ugly, it’s dark and no one’s looking, cry when I realized that Major wasn’t in the room with us. Forget about the kids. I was the one who needed this little guy.

We made arrangements to pick him up on a Friday. We didn’t tell the boys. We had surprised them with Major on Christmas, so we decided to continue the tradition minus the Christmas part. Driving down to Long Beach, I had butterflies in my stomach. It might have been March, but it felt like Christmas morning to me.

Our new puppy was ready and waiting for us, sitting on his blue blanket from the picture. We met the puppy’s Mom and the Dad who weren’t sure why we were holding their baby boy. He smelled like puppy shampoo, having just had a bath to meet his new parents. He whined as his mama strained to sniff him and I felt bad for them both. It suddenly seemed terrible that I was taking her baby away from her. She didn’t know what a fantastic life this little boy was about to have.

With our puppy care package and new puppy wrapped up in his blue blanket, we pulled away to head home. He sat in my lap and snuggled me the whole way. I cherished the moment, knowing this puppy’s time in my lap would be short-lived. He looked just like his dad and his dad that weighed 90 pounds. The whole drive we talked about names. We were struggling. We wanted to honor Major in some way, but nothing was sounding right. We wanted to have some choices to give the boys, so they could feel like they were naming him. And also so we didn’t end up with a horrible name like Vader or Lego.

By the time we got home, it was time to pick the boys up from school. Derek went to pick them up while I played with the new puppy in the backyard. When they got home, Derek would tell them to head to the backyard.

After the excitement died down and after vetoing the name Oswald (yes, that was one of the suggested names) we quickly decided to name him Bleu. Bleu the Golden. Very UCLA of us, blue and gold being UCLA’s colors. But spelling it B-L-U-E was much too traditional for us. The boys thought the spelling B-L-E-U was much cooler. So it was settled. Bleu it was.

Bleu has been everything we needed to help us get over our loss. He is 8 months old now and is not so little anymore. It was hard at first not to compare him to Major, but he has his own special personality. He loves swimming in our pool and often comes to the back door sopping wet. He sneaks up on our bed in the middle of the night and slowly snuggles up to us like a furry toddler. He loves to eat ice just like Major did, but doesn’t carry around stuffed animals in his mouth like his big brother which actually makes me sad. Other than ripping out a patch of wool from my living room rug and eventually ripping holes in Purple Dinosaur, he has been a very good boy.

This puppy’s love has healed our hearts. We hope and pray he gets to live the long, healthy life that Major missed out on.

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