This story begins nine years ago - February 2003 to be exact. My beautiful daughter and firstborn had just been accepted to the University of South Carolina, which is wonderful, right?
Except I live in Alexandria, Virginia.
Almost 7 hours away from Columbia, South Carolina.
So what is a proud, but sad, panicky mother to do?
Plan for a new baby, of course.
I told my husband we were going to have a new addition and immediately started my research.
It would have to be a girl. Yes, another girl.
And she would need to be small. And she couldn't shed because my husband suffers from at-times debilitating allergies.
After crossing out multiple candidates, I decided on a miniature schnauzer. I answered an ad in the Washington Post.
"We don't have any puppies now, but we're expecting some around the middle of June," the lady from the kennel informed me.
Sure enough, June 11th the call came. A litter had been born about 3:00 that morning but there was a problem.
"They're white," she said, as if that meant something to me.
"It's a genetic defect," the lady explained to this amateur. "You can register them through the American Kennel Club, but you'll never be able to show her."
I didn't care. When could I see her?
Three weeks later I begged Jay to take me to Hollywood, Maryland to see the litter and pick out the one I wanted.
Naturally, with all that planning and the months and weeks of anticipation, I was as giddy as any new mom would be.
I had even decided on a name.
When we got there I saw 6 of the tiniest, most darling little white puff balls I'd ever seen in my life!
"There were only 2 girls." the breeder - a young blonde woman who was much prettier than what her gruff phone voice had lead me to imagine - gently put one of the little girls in the palm of Jay's hand and the other in mine.
I held mine close to my heart as it continued to sleep. I softly rubbed the wiggly little pup that Jay was holding. Quicker than a wink her little mouth grabbed onto my thumb and instinctively began to suck.
I started to cry - this was my girl.
This sweet baby would be Rachael's replacement.
Three weeks later we came back to pick her up - on my birthday, July 30th, to be exact.
Three weeks later I held her tight as we drove that lonely stretch of highway that lead from South Carolina back home to Virginia.
That car seemed so empty and my heart was heavy but I didn't shed one tear.
Yes, I'd just left my 18 year old daughter to the wolves, but I knew she'd be okay.
Violet needed me - and she would never, ever leave me to go to college or get married.
Jump start to the same time next year.
Instead of a party and presents, Violet had her first trip to the hospital. Pancreatitis. A characteristic of her breed, unfortunately
Every three years like clockwork, she would spend about 3 nights in the hospital, and we would spend several hundred in vet bills. No birthday presents for me - but she's worth it!
In about 5 weeks I'll be 50.
I'm so looking forward to it!
I was JUST getting up my nerve to ask for THIS:
I WANT THIS BAG!!!!
I have wanted it for YEARS and I thought for sure I'd get one since this is SUCH a milestone birthday.
A few days ago Miss Priss got sick. So sick that she lost 5 pounds overnight. Five pounds that a dog her size can not afford to lose.
Poor Violet was so sick that we weren't sure if she was going to pull through.
It wasn't just pancreatitis this time.
She is also diabetic and will need insulin shots for the rest of her life.....as well as a special diet.
The look on Jay's face when we got the bill?
Let's just say I wouldn't even DREAM of asking for that Louis Vuitton bag now.
but that's okay....
Because when I held this baby in my arms again I could only think one thing: