nce upon a time there were two humans, Deborah and Bill. They had been married for a long time and had raised two, two-footed creatures. Those creatures eventually grew up and moved away. Deborah and Bill said "Whoopee! Now we have time to be by ourselves!" They enjoyed that for a while, but then Bill wanted to get a dog (they had had dogs a number of years ago, but that's another story). Deborah wasn't so sure about this getting a dog business. Bill said that he respected her feelings and would never try to pressure her in any way. But strangely enough, almost every time he went to the video place he brought home dog movies for the two of them to watch. Then dog books began arriving in the satchel from the library.

Deborah (not being too dense) began to figure out that Bill was in serious need of a dog. Also, she was beginning to get a bit lonesome for someone to cuddle (besides Bill that is!). And so, she said Bill could make his best case for the kind of dog he wanted to get. Since they had had a very bad time once with a dog who had an unstable, nasty temperment, Bill didn't want to blow it. He talked to lots of people and the vet (who is a person, too, by the way), and he read up a lot, and said, "What would be good for us now is a Golden Retriever." After talking about it a lot and spending time with some Goldens, they eventually found a five month old puppy who they named Becka.

Now Becka turned out to be the prototypical Golden Retriever. She was very friendly, liked everybody indiscriminately, and lived to eat. Since Deborah and Bill had read How to be Your Dog's Best Friend by the Monks of New Skete, they spent as much time with Becka as they could, and Bill even took her to the office with him when he did psychotherapy. He kept telling Deborah how nice it was to have a dog with him at work, and how Becka was a help in working with patients. Well, that began to sound kinda good to Deborah, who by that time was also doing psychotherapy. Right about then, Deborah discovered some books written by Andrew Greeley. She liked them a lot because they were great stories, and had a lot about the Irish in them, which is about half of her heritage (and about all of her temperment!).

So one day, there Deborah was, minding her own business, reading a Greeley book called The Cardinal Virtues, when BAMMMM! All of a sudden Greeley introduces a new character called Norah, an Irish Wolfhound. Well, Deborah knew a little about Irish Wolfhounds, and had been thinking about what kind of big dog she might want to get, but oh dear, by the end of the book she was smitten! But she calmed herself down by telling herself that she needed to find out a whole lot more about them and besides which, Bill probably wouldn't like them anyway. Well then, Bill read the Greeley book, took one look at Deborah when she talked wistfully about "Perhaps we could find some Wolfhound somewhere to visit," and knew he had to do something.

And so again, Bill and Deborah talked to people, read books and consulted with the vet. The vet was able to give them the names of two people she knew in the area who had Wolfhounds at that time. Bill and Deborah first went to visit the woman (whose name was Harriette) who had just one Wolfhound. Deborah walked into her living room, took one look at the Large, Hairy Beast, and WHAMMMM! her heart was captured! Harriette laughed a lot at Deborah, especially after about half an hour or so when Deborah realized she hadn't even paid any attention to the woman. Harriette then said she'd take Deborah and Bill and her Wolfhound Maggie over to see a friend of hers who had three Wolfhounds. Deborah and Bill spent a terrific afternoon getting their faces licked, getting sat on by a 165 pound dog, and watching Wolfhounds playfight.

Now Deborah and Bill were in real trouble, as they had been bitten/smitten by the Irish Wolfhound bug BIG TIME. It took them a number of months to find a breeder, but they eventually were selected by Fionna to be her human parents. Fionna turned out to be a gentle, luminous, creature, who went just about everywhere with Deborah. Deborah took her to the office, and they learned to do psychotherapy together. But Fionna seemed to have a problem in that she regurgitated food and vomitted a lot more than normal. It turned out that Fionna had a megaesophagus and would need special care in order to survive. Deborah and Bill figured out lots of ways to help her out, like building a special feeding stand, and elevating her beds, etc.

A few years later, Deborah began having puppy longings again. She told Bill that since the upcoming Christmas was going to be their first one without either of their two-footed children, she wanted to make it special in a different way, like (surprise!) getting a Wolfhound puppy. And so, Tulia found her way into their house and hearts. That was all very nice, except Deborah found out that she couldn't let either Fionna or Tulia go to spend time in Bill's office at work, and he was getting major Wolfhound withdrawals during the day. Deborah and Bill weren't sure whether they were ready for the middle of the night trips outside again so soon, so they decided to wait a few months. Lucky they did, because a littermate of Tulia's named Keegan needed to find a new home, and guess where he picked?!

Next, Deborah (will this woman never settle down?) started talking about how she wanted to be around Wolfhound puppies as they were being whelped and when they were very little. She spent time at the breeders getting to know the Mama in waiting, and one cold night in January, went racing down there to help out in the whelping. Because it was an hour and a half from where Deborah and Bill lived, several puppies had already been born by the time she got there, including the number one puppy, a red female. As Deborah spent one day each week with the puppies, it soon became very clear who had picked Deborah out to be her human Mom: the lovely, the snorky, the assertive, the first out of the whelping box, the remarkable Carina!!

And so, that's how Deborah and Bill and Becka and Fionna and Tulia and Keegan and Carina came to love and live and work together in a place called The Hounds of Heaven.

THE END(so far!)