Friday afternoon I had the privilege of taking three of my 9 grand girls shopping for birthday girl, Elizabeth who was turning 12. I had thought of lunch, shopping, and a movie, but the girls’ had no movie interest. I secretly worried that I could not entertain them all afternoon with just the mall. Well how completely WRONG I was about that! Claire’s, where you buy earrings and such, took almost an hour by itself! Anyway, weary from the clothes shopping leg of our expedition, I suggested we look at the puppies in the pet store. The girls were delighted.
We were enjoying viewing all the breeds of puppies when the girls spotted a black 6 week old Newfoundland. “Mimi, Look! A Newfoundland!” They were proud of their discovery as they knew I had once had my own precious Newfy. The four of us stood spellbound studying the adorable black fluffball when suddenly the clerk appeared behind the cage and lifted him out!
Is there a chance we could pet that little guy? I thought. I must have voiced some of my excitement because the young couple behind us explained, “He is taking him out for us. We are going to meet the puppy in the visiting room.“ I turned to look at them, my enthusiasm spilled over as I shared with them about my Miss Cornelia Springhaven, a dog I got to adore for ten years. They were hanging on my words.
“Hey come with us! Come into the room with us!”
“Really? You would let me?”
“Come on.” With that encouragement of course I followed along. The girls were off admiring all the other puppies. Secured within the visiting area, the clerk gently placed the Newfy puppy in the young man’s arms. Time seemed to stand still as his wife and I admired the scene in front of us; a great big, tall, twenty-something young man cuddling a little 12 pound puppy.The puppy melted into his arms. We stared as he smiled a serene satisfaction.
After a bit, his wife begged to hold the dog and I offered to take their picture with my phone camera. With that she handed me her phone and I photographed the three of them while we chatted and exchanged names. They seemed hungry for my motherly energy and I felt a bit like we were in the hospital delivery room crooning over a newborn. I learned that they were from Mississippi , currently stationed at nearby Camp Pendelton, California, had been married a year and were not ready for a human baby, even though they shared possible baby names with me! I sang the praises of my Newfoundland experience.
Before long, the shop clerk came back to check in with them. They did not offer much, dazed as they were by the puppy, so I volunteered, “I would like to adopt these humans!” Everyone laughed. Of course I was not really kidding. There was something so open and innocent about these young people. Soon my girls came to collect me as the Sweet Fac tory was the next stop on our list.
I lingered a bit longer. The couple had decided to purchase the puppy. Not a small decision as he cost $2200, no doubt a large sum on a military salary. I smiled my good byes.
That brief encounter has stayed with me. I woke up thinking about them this morning . How precious they are in their youthful attraction to the puppy, their charming southern accents, how brave they are being away from home. I recalled the earnest way the young man, Kincaid, spoke to me. He told me that he would soon ship out again.
“Are you concerned about it?” I had asked.
In his beautiful slow drawl he replied, “It will be the last time. The puppy will keep Kendra company while I am gone. I am not worried.”
“You two know this little guy may grow to 150 pounds, right?”
“We’ve been looking at Huskies. We know.” He smiled at me. I just smiled back.
My thoughts today keep returning to them. They are far from home, the holidays just passed and they did not get to go home. They are alone out here in California, yet their attitude is so positive. He is not concerned about himself, for him it is about wife and country. I watch a lot of news, BBC and World News, and I see a lot about our forces overseas and the wars going on in the world. This couple has brought some clarity to me about the sacrifice it takes to keep our country safe. I am not sure I have seen our military through these eyes before, a boy, a girl and a puppy. I hope we Americans, while we worry about the fiscal cliff and banning assault weapons, truly appreciate what it takes to mount our volunteer military. We are sending our national treasures, our sons and daughters, our beautiful cherished youth, off to do battle; to lose limbs, peace of mind, and sometimes even their lives. This young couple is just the tiniest sampling of the dedicated young people our country has raised. I feel proud and humbled and delighted that the Newfy puppy can do his little part for this family.
It is a blessing when we can appreciate precious moments like this one with the couple who were learning to love Newfoundland style!