We weren't pet people until we finally gave in to our 9-year-old daughter's long-standing campaign to get a dog. Once 8-week-old Skippy, a miniature schnauzer, came home with us, it was as though he was always meant to be a part of our family. Over the next 12 years, he joined us everywhere we could bring him, and when he couldn't come along, he'd welcome us home with what became known as the Skippy Dance: hopping on his two hind paws in a circle, barking elatedly as he jumped. So when cancer took one of his legs and then his life, we fell into a deep mourning period.
My older daughter wasn't sure this sadness was worth all the prior happiness. I disagreed, and a year after Skippy passed away, we contacted rescue organizations to see if any miniature schnauzers needed a home.
We loved the breed so much, but no dog could replace Skippy. So we opted to adopt Colby, a 3-year-old that was as docile as Skippy was rambunctious and looked as dissimilar as two dogs of this same breed could--Colby's fur was brown and curly whereas Skippy's was gray and straight.
Colby instantly reminded us how to make an animal part of the family again and helped us heal following the tremendous loss. Still, I missed Skippy dearly.
We took Colby to get groomed, not knowing we'd be in for the surprise of our lives when he was done. After a good washing and hair trimming, we learned Colby's fur was actually gray and straight, exactly like Skippy's. He just had been so dirty from his time at the shelter. And somehow, his expression changed, too, to be more Skippy-like. When people we hadn't seen in a while met Colby, they thought he WAS Skippy. One even asked how his leg grew back!
Skippy, left; Colby, right
While their personalities are still very different--8-year-old Colby, blessedly, is quite calm around our toddler grandson whereas high-strung Skippy wouldn't have been--I took their uncanny resemblance as a sign: Skippy would always be a part of the family.
--Marion Bodgas, Staten Island, NY