Dracaena WinesJill of L’Occasion won the Monthly Wine Writing Challenge #21 (#MWWC21) and just like all previous winners of the Challenge, her “reward” was to choose the theme for the following Challenge (in this case #MWWC22) Jill Chose “Second Chance.” You can read all about our friendly competition here

This story of second chance begins way back in February of 1997. Mike and I were on a ski trip in Vermont with my brother and some friends.  We had spent the previous months going from dog show to dog show. We knew we wanted a weimaraner, so in our typical cover all our bases attitude, we would go to a dog show and grab the listing pamphlet.  We would not look at it though.  We would plop ourselves in front of the weimaraner ring and watch as the dogs went by. We would mark the numbers of the dogs that we liked their looks.
As I’m writing this, I’m thinking to myself, wow, that sounds kind of assholish. But that is what we did because we wanted a reputable breeder and a healthy dog.

Snootiness aside, we went to several shows and it never failed we picked out the same dog as our favorite. Greywind in High Flying Cloud. (Ben) We approached the owner/handler and it turned out that the second dog we picked out all the time Quantrels Quick Silver (Silver) was actually scheduled to breed with Ben in the near future.  It seemed like all the stars were aligning for us.  We spoke to both, were interviewed, – yes interviewed – and we were accepted to have a puppy from this litter.

Let me bring you back to February of 1997 and Vermont. We received a phone call from the breeder that Ben and Silver had mated and it took. She was not sure how many puppies there would be, but there were puppies. We were thrilled!

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weimie pups are born with stripes and stunning blue eyes

Eight weeks later, puppies were born. There were eight beautifully stripped puppies. One week after that, Mike and I traveled down the parkway to see them. We weren’t allowed to touch them, but we could see them. We wouldn’t know which one would be ours until the breeder did a temperament test on them and paired the puppies with the new owners.

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My Draco

The puppies each had colored ribbons as collars. This is how the breeder knew which puppy was which. Ultimately we found out, Mr. White would be our Draco, who we named after the constellation of all the Dragon’s souls. I will not lie, from the first moment I laid eyes on that pudgy little boy I was in love and my heart swelled. He was so special. We visited him every week until we were finally able to take him home when he was ten weeks old.  (we could have taken him home at nine weeks, but we were in Napa/Sonoma)

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Draco’s favorite place to be (mine too)

As the years went by, Draco grew in size and my love for him grew also.  We don’t have children. I’m not saying that people who have children don’t love their pets, but I don’t know, he was my child. I took care of him when he was sick. I made sure he had his check-ups and God help anyone or anything that tried to harm him.  He was my sidekick.  I never sat on a chair anymore because he always wanted to be touching me. He would curl up into my legs or rest his head in the curve of my back if I was lying on my stomach.

For fourteen years, I planned vacations to places that he could go. Mike and I went hiking all the time so that he would have fun. He was it. Our world revolved around him. And then one day, there was nothing for my world to revolve around.  I was devastated. I admit, I didn’t handle it well. Hell, I still don’t handle it well. (the tears are streaming down my face as I type) I wear a necklace that doesn’t come off for ANYTHING that is a dragon.  His favorite toy is in my room and his ashes are by my bed.  I miss him constantly and the hole in my heart aches every day.

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Dracaena marginata

When it came time to name our winery, there was no doubt that some how, some way Draco was going to be involved.  We sat and brainstormed so many names, but many were taken or didn’t quite fit the bill. Then Dracaena entered the picture. The genus name for the Draco Tree,  the plant that now sits behind every picture of wine that I take for social media. It all made sense. The combination of Mike’s and my science backgrounds with the plant that we have as a living memorial to our boy. The stars were once again aligned for us. But that hole in my heart still exists.

Vegas at the house we rescued him from

But then there are second chances. About a year after we lost Draco, Mike couldn’t take it anymore. Although, I didn’t like the silence in the house, I couldn’t think of having another dog. I couldn’t go through all that again.  But Mike was miserable.  We decided (I might have been coerced) that we would get another dog, but we weren’t going through the whole breeder thing again. We were going to give our home and our love to a dog that wasn’t getting what he deserved.  Enter Vegas.

Technically, when we adopted him, his name was Zero. That should tell you all you need to know about his life.  He spent his first two years never taking a walk. He lived on a couch and when it was time to “do his business” they stuck him on a flexi leash and opened the front door.  His first walk was with us when we met him.  I still wasn’t ready for another dog, but there was no way I was leaving this poor defenseless animal with these people who didn’t know that a dog needed more than a couch and food.  So it was a done deal.

Vegas in Water
Vegas on a hike

We changed his name to Vegas for two reasons. One, we love going to Vegas and had just come back from a rather good trip and two we were giving this dog a second chance at finding a home that he so readily deserved – one that would love him, not just have him. I like to think that he recognizes that he was given this second chance.  I often wonder if he remembers the people who he lived with prior to us and if he realizes the difference in his life. At least I like to think he sees a difference.

In these 5 years that he has been with us he is not a just a pet he is a family member. Vacations are planned around getting a dog sitter or being able to take him with us. He has beds in almost every room and blankets to top the beds. He came to us with one toy and he now has a basket that overflows. He is taken on multiple walks a day and his grandparents (aka my parents) spoil the living daylights out of him. He is on social media pretty much every day and although he doesn’t curl into my lap or lie in the arch of my back, he is typically sitting or lying down directly in front of me with his head resting on my foot.

I’m not sure who really got the second chance here. In complete honesty,  I must admit, he is not my Draco. But when I look at him I smile and a warm feeling comes over me.  Yes, that hole in my heart has not been filled, but more space has definitely been added.


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  1. What a great article! Thank you for sharing your story of your beloved Draco and now your dear Vegas. I think the best things about second chances is that often times they reward the one giving as much as the one receiving! Beautiful!

    1. Thank you Michelle. I was given a second chance to love. Although he’s not my Draco he definitely has a large portion of my heart.

  2. and now I have tears trimming down, too! From the minute I met you and Draco, I knew he was so super special and I remember the feeling that washed over me when you told me he earned his wings. I remember telling you “when you were ready” to let me know. I know you weren’t really ready, but somehow the universe knows. Thank you for loving Vegas…

    1. Thank you KellyAnn. I have to agree, the Universe sometimes knows better than you do yourself. Thank you for helping to bring Vegas into our lives!

  3. Well, you managed to get my tears flowing as well. We lost our Ginny several years ago and have changed our lifestyle to reflect a no-dog household. I’m sure its by design as i can’t imagine calling a dog me by any other name. But, you may have given me some encouragement to share that love with another dog. Thanks.

    1. So sorry for your loss. It really is difficult. I really wasn’t ready, but after seeing the life Vegas had, I wouldn’t have been able to live with myself leaving him there. I still miss Draco so so much, but I love Vegas too. If you do decide to share that love, it will be one lucky dog

  4. tears, totally get it. Everything kind of revolves around Jake, maybe too much so at times, but they are our babies and have no voice! Lori, Vegas is super lucky to have found his way into your lives. Dogs RULE! Thanks for sharing

    1. I don’t believe it’s wrong to have all revolve around Jake. They are special souls and they deserve our full love. And yes! DOGS RULE! Hoping we meet you and Jake soon!

  5. Sniff sniff.

    How wonderful to hear of the love you share with your adorable pets. My Yorkie Archie is on my lap as I type this. She’s always there, warming up life, heart & home.

  6. A great entry, Lori! The furry ones always leave such holes in our hearts. I gave my husband a German shepherd puppy when we got married (23 years ago). When he passed after 12 years, we were three years without a dog. But my husband is lost without a dog . . . enter Ghillie, our now 11 year old English Mastiff. She’s entered the geriatric phase of her life, but has enriched our lives infinitely. Dogs are awesome. (Love knowing the story behind the Draco tree, too!) Salud!

    1. Thank you. I love the name Ghillie! An English Mastiff and a German Shepard- two very different dogs. Mike too was lost without a dog, he’s so much happier with the pitter patter of paws!

  7. Thank you so much for sharing this story! I love that Draco’s memory will live on forever in your hearts and wine!! I’m tearing up while laying on my baby, Addy, who is a 9 year old lab and tolerant of my clinginess in the hopes that when I get up she’ll get an extra cookie! While I don’t ever want to imagine my life without her, I cannot imagine not having a dog in my life and I’m so very happy you found Vegas and are giving him a much happier life! xoxox

    1. Thank you. I understand the hugging of Addy. I use to watch Emergency Vets and hug the stuffings out of Draco and cry especially if there was a Weimaraner injured or worse. Mike finally drew the line and said Stop watching those shows!” But Draco lied with me through the whole shows (probably because he got lots of treats afterwards) LOL. Please give Addy a hug and kiss for me!

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