If you haven’t read the first part of Al’s story, please see Part One here.
So the plan was this: Since I didn’t have experience talking with animals in spirit at that time, Al would have to ask a potential puppy if he would agree to exchange spirits with Zeke. Then Al would relay the information to me. Awkward? Just a little. Because this meant that we’d have to take Al along on our search for the puppy. Then the 120 pound Shepherd would have to be introduced to the candidate. This wasn’t going to be so easy.
We called the local shelters, but no one had puppies. We drove the back roads of our county to the north, but no signs indicating young dogs. Nothing.
One day we decided to head south. I’m not very familiar with the towns or the rural area south of us, but Sandy, (Al’s mom) had lived there before moving to our town. She knew the back roads, little stores, and post offices. Places we thought we might find a sign. A literal sign announcing puppies.
I asked if there was a feed store in the area. I am not someone who uses a feed store, wasn’t sure what they sold there, only it had come to me that this was the place to look. And Sandy knew of one close by. I walked into the store and there on the bulletin board was the sign we’d been looking for. “Puppies – 8 weeks old – 7 males, 1 female”. I knew we’d found our place.
That night Mark, (dad of Al) called the Puppy People. Not only did they have all the males left, but one was two colored. He was black and red.
When Mark called to tell me, I remember getting a tingle on the back of my neck. I said “That’s got to be him. That’s my ‘cosmic hint’ since Zeke was an Irish Setter in his last lifetime!” So the next day, Sandy, Al and I went to meet the puppies. I was excited and nervous. What if this wasn’t him?
We drove deep into the beautiful valley. We had Al in the back so he could choose his puppy. But the serene scene we enjoyed while driving was about to change drastically. We arrived at a small one bedroom home. Inside a family that included 7 children. Outside were 4-5 adult dogs, and the milieu of puppies. There were half a dozen chickens and to call the scene “chaotic” would be an understatement. We pulled Al out of the back of the car to meet the puppies. I began to feel overwhelmed. The kids, their mom, the animals, it was all too much and I was sure I couldn’t choose correctly in the mayhem. Apparently Al felt the same way because after he had introduced himself to the group, he dragged me off down the road away from the house. I said “Al you have to tell me which one has agreed to switch with Zeke.” And he replied “They’ve all agreed. Just pick one and get me outa here.”
I got him calmed down and back in the car. Now it was up to me. But the minute I saw him, I knew which one was Zeke. We offered to pay for him, but the lady refused and the next thing I knew, I was holding a puppy, riding in the quiet car, with Al looking nervously over my shoulder.
By the time we returned to Sandy and Mark’s home, I had fallen in love. But there was still one last thing to do. I called my mentor Annette Betcher and asked if we had gotten the right puppy. She assured me we had, but that it would take up to six months for Zeke to completely take over his new body. This photo is from the afternoon we brought him home. You can clearly see the red in him. You can also see his soulful eyes. But Al strangely enough, would have little to do with him. He’d come to where we sat quietly with Zeke, sniff him, yip a little, and then he’d run to the back of the yard. We knew something wasn’t right, but we couldn’t figure what. Had we picked the wrong pup? Worse yet – had I made all this all up?
In a pack of dogs (and two are a pack) there is an alpha that is chosen between the dogs. Humans can try and designate an alpha, but ultimately the dogs will decide for themselves. But in the pack, there are also humans who trump the dogs. Al deeply loves and cares about Mark, and he is the alpha of the whole pack. Mark hadn’t met Zeke yet. And when Mark drove up, it suddenly became clear to me.
Al’s loving ways have had me shed tears a few times and this was one of them. He greeted Mark nervously and followed him as he and son Logan came over to meet the puppy. Mark looked at Al tenderly after meeting Zeke and said quietly “You did good Al. He’s a great puppy.” From that moment on, things got interesting. Al had dad’s approval and set about training his puppy.
He did not behave as a male dog typically does with a puppy. He paid lots of attention to Zeke more like a mother dog would. He groomed him (still does on occasion) and took him around their large property on little “tours”. He showed him his food bowl and made sure he knew where it was – rather than eat it himself. He had rules too. As Zeke grew I’d take them to the beach often. One time I got Zeke a toy so that he wouldn’t bother Al so much with his jumping, ramming, or biting Al’s tail. I threw the toy and Al immediately snagged it and buried in the dirt up off the beach. “Unapproved” was the message I got.
Today, some eight years later, one can tell these two are brothers. They don’t “adventure” much anymore since Al is getting elderly. And they don’t growl at each other (like brothers do) like they used to. But I’ve never seen two dogs that are closer than these two.
And there’s the way Zeke has impacted my life. But that’s a story for another day.