From almost the moment we all left Petsmart with our new additions, looking equally elated and shell-shocked by what we had just taken on, I had wondered about Archie and Daisy’s eight siblings. What did they look like? How big were they? Did they eat tissue like Archie, steal socks like Daisy, and cock their heads inquisitively at unfamiliar sounds?
Most of all, did they miss their brothers and sisters who had shared their foster homes and would they recognize each other if they ever happened to see each other again?
Several months before the puppies’ first birthday, I had my first opportunity to get answers to some of these questions. While manning a booth at a pet event, miles from where we live, a woman came up to my table. After telling her about the nonprofit I was volunteering for, she mentioned that she and her daughter were volunteering at the event too. The organization they were supporting was MOMS VA, an animal rescue organization.
“That’s so cool! My husband and I adopted two puppies from MOMS VA in December,” I said.
The woman’s eyes widened. “Did you adopt Archie and Larissa?” she asked excitedly.
“Larissa” was Daisy’s name before we adopted her.
“Yes!” I replied. “How did you know?”
She knew because Karen had also adopted her puppy, Apollo, from that same litter. Weeks later, again purely by chance, another of the puppy owners just happened to recognize Archie and Daisy at our nearby dog park. Donna had adopted Rhea, renamed Piper, who had shared the same foster home as Daisy.
Those two meetings couldn’t be a pure coincidence. Maybe they were the nudge I needed to plan a puppy reunion. How hard could it be?!
As it turns out, pretty hard! I started by gathering everyone’s email addresses from MOMS VA, while Karen started a Puppy Pack Facebook page to share pictures and puppy information. Slowly, but surely, we got in touch with everyone, and all the families seemed equally excited to reunite our pack of shaggy dogs.
We were approaching the puppies’ first birthday in August, so we decided to schedule the reunion to celebrate that milestone. Because we live in a townhouse and weren’t about to multiply the mayhem by five, Donna graciously agreed to host the party in her yard.
That first attempt was unfortunately thwarted by Hurricane Florence. But after months of planning, we were all bound and determined to see this reunion through and rescheduled the party for several weeks later at Charley Boy’s house.
At long last, the day of the reunion dawned. I felt exactly like a kid on Christmas Day. Although the previous full day of rain had left the ground sodden and our blonde dogs were destined to get muddy, I gave Archie and Daisy a bath (it’s not every day you meet your long-lost siblings), put on their Halloween costumes–Daisy Mae and Archie Andrews–and piled in the car.
When we arrived, there was already a handful of pups there to greet us. Archie and Daisy eagerly tugged at their leashes to join the pack, so much so that Daisy busted (pun intended) out of her flower-studded, polka-dot Daisy Mae blouse. So much for my seamstress skills!
Once inside, we joined the whirling dervish of white fur and wagging, curly tails greeting one another. It was immediately apparent that despite their DNA, all of the dogs had different personalities. Some romped around like they owned the place, some skittered away when you tried to pet them but chased each other, and others retreated to the safety of their owners’ legs (Daisy among them).
Don and I quickly discovered Daisy’s litter twin, a petite, curly mophead named Bailey. In fact, I mistook her for Daisy on several occasions. Archie, however, was the odd dog out, with his brown ears and body, the ruff of wild hair around his neck, and his curly leg hair (we call them “curly boots”). Everyone was commenting on how different from the rest of that he looked (his siblings were all white with primarily soft, fluffy coats, some long and some clipped shorter) … and I was feeling maternally empathetic! Then someone showed me a photo of the puppies’ mom, Tara, and I stopped thinking that maybe he had just wandered into that MOMS VA pet stand. He looked almost identical to his mama!
The whole litter–Apollo, Archie, Bailey, Charley, Daisy, Fiona, Pearl, Piper and Teddy–was accounted for, except one: Biscuit. He and mom, Katie, were coming from the furthest distance away, and when they finally arrived, we suddenly found Archie’s litter twin! Although whiter and a little smaller, Biscuit had the same adorable unruly coat and puckish personality as our Archie. Before Biscuit’s arrival, Archie had snuck into the house behind Charley, who lived there, tried to eat someone’s birthday cake, and escaped through the gate before being apprehended by one of the moms. Biscuit made his presence known, barking at the rest of the crew, and quickly made up for lost time sniffing and checking everyone out.
After a couple of hours, the wine bottles were empty, the Shaggy Dog cake devoured, our pants covered with muddy paw prints, and the dogs ready for naps. Humans and hounds, alike, had had a blast and we promised to come back together in the spring.
Despite their differences, I learned that the pups also have many similarities, chiefly their pleasure in destroying books, paper towels, eyeglasses and mouth guards. They’re also power chewers and need the toughest bones to keep them entertained. Most of the girls have a shrill, ear drum-piercing bark and most of the boys are rough and tumble. Some are picky eaters; others get car sick. But most importantly, I learned that they all have made their humans’ lives so much more interesting and immeasurably sweeter!