The story of one family’s addiction to puppy love

By Angela D. Wagner

In 1962, Charles M. Schulz, creator of the Peanuts comics, published his book Happiness is a Warm Puppy. The quote, “Happiness is a Warm Puppy,” was attributed to the typically bossy and hard-to-please Peanuts character Lucy. Over the years we have shared our lives with many dogs who have left paw prints on our hearts that will never fade and just recently our family received an unexpected surprise that will inevitably do the same.

Most of the pets we have shared our lives with have been cuddly canines from miniature pinchers to pit bulls. Dogs were so influential on my life as a child, I wrote my first research paper about dachshunds, inspired by my mini-doxie at the time who was aptly named Weiner. As many children often do, I spent years dreaming of becoming a veterinarian. My career aspirations changed when I realized two things. One, that I would have to put animals to sleep, and two, that I would spend more years in school to become an animal doctor than a people doctor.

While I didn’t become a vet, my husband and I adopted a dachshund, Baby, and our first corgi, Chief, shortly after becoming a couple. We grew fond of the Pembroke Welsh Corgi breed. We later got a female corgi puppy for our oldest son whom he named Lilly after a girl in his class. My husband and I later became registered breeders with the AKC.

Having bred four litters of purebred corgi pups when our oldest was young, we fixed Lilly. She was a sweet-natured sable who loved to eat (as most corgis do) and trotted around the house on lithe paws wagging her little nub. A happy dog, she loved visitors, especially children, and was always down for a good snuggle. Half of our breeding pair, our Lilly girl, after years of love and loyalty, crossed the Rainbow Bridge following a three-year battle with cancer. A tragic loss for our family, especially our oldest to whom Lilly belonged.

After losing Lilly, we adopted a half corgi, half beagle mix named Molly to help keep our male corgi, Chief, company. She had the softest fur I had ever felt on a dog. She was like a living stuffed animal but had the spunk of a Wall Street CEO. She loved to boss everyone around and sit on the family couch like she owned the place. Chief, who had loyally slept night after night under the crib as each of our two youngest came home from the hospital, was old enough that he didn’t care about Molly being top dog.

Just a few years after adopting Molly, the universe sent us Sara. I was cruising Facebook one Thursday night when I saw a pit bull mix with a soft blue mug, green eyes shining up at the camera. Her loving face was on not one, not two, but on three of my friends’ Facebook pages. She was scheduled for euthanasia the next day at 1 p.m. because no one had adopted her and she had been in the center for two months. I had never had a dog that big before but there was something about her that told me I couldn’t let her die. My husband and I brought her home the next day, breaking her out just two hours before her scheduled walk down the green mile.

It was serendipitous that we brought Sara home when we did that Friday because we ended up losing both Chief, to cancer and old age, as well as Molly (to an undetected autoimmune disorder) within one week of us adopting her. Our house was in serious mourning and the only thing that kept us from going nuts was Sara. Our kids cried on her, clung to her, and slept with her for comfort. We had rescued her and within a week, she had rescued us right back.

After a couple of months, we realized that Sara, who was estimated to be only a year-and-a-half old herself, needed a furry friend of her own. We adopted a tri-colored corgi puppy whom we named Chase due to his penchant for wanting to chase Sara and the kids everywhere. Sara mama-dogged him, teaching him to use the doggy door and potty training him so we didn’t have to. He has grown into the alpha dog of the household. Chase won our hearts by “talking,” engaging in infinite fetch, howling in unison with us, and playing host to all visitors by quickly taking a spot on their lap.

Once our younger children learned that we once raised corgis of our own, they begged and pleaded for the opportunity to breed puppies. After two years of cajoling, my husband and I finally acquiesced. I began searching for the perfect female corgi online. I didn’t care if it was an adult or a puppy. She just needed to have the right disposition, be friendly with other dogs, and had to be a tri-color. I finally located a little girl in Lubbock so we packed up the kids for a family road trip.

Two weeks ago, we took that trip to pick our new family member. When we met her in person, we found she was mostly black and white with perfect brown lines above her eyes as if someone had added makeup to her furry little face. Our children instantly took to her with her soft fur and quiet playfulness.

We visited with the breeders for a bit and then got into the car to head home. Just then, one of the breeders came to the car and offered us the last little boy for a steal. He was the last one, you see, and they had to take their twins who had severe medical issues to Dallas in just a few days. They had no one to take care of the puppy so they offered him to us. The idea was to pick up one puppy but we headed home with two instead.

The last couple of weeks has been an adventure between introducing new members to our “pack,” different feeding schedules, crate training, potting training, and play time for everyone. These two little fluffy balls of energy make us all smile every day. Now my husband and I get to watch our three children cuddle two warm corgi puppies and we can see it in their faces. Schulz and Lucy were right. Happiness truly is a warm puppy, or two.