Losing Baby the way we did is probably the hardest thing I’ve ever been through. I’ve cried every day since I came home and found her limping on March 2nd and I’ve been near to panic attacks several times, had terrible bouts of guilt over a variety of things, and been terribly sad, anxious and overcome with a lost sort of feeling. She was such a sweet, special dog and she’d become more and more like our child over the past couple of years. I was her mom. I needed to be there for her, which is why I went with Don into her final vet appointment and held her face in my hands and told her how much I loved her as she passed. That was definitely the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do and it’s messed with my mind and heart in all sorts of ways.
Since I’m not even close to being through this terrible grief, you’d think I would avoid setting myself up for going through it again in the near future.
Well, not me. I must be crazy but I brought another dog home yesterday. An old dog.
Taking care of old dogs is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. Several years ago, I told Don that I want to foster old dogs once we move into a single story house. But doing so now is his fault! I got up the Sunday morning after Baby passed and found him looking at old dog rescue sites. He followed several on Facebook and he kept looking at them and showing me pictures. I kept saying, “we’re not ready.” Then I followed Old Dog Haven (a local old dog rescue) and scoped out the dogs at the Everett Animal Shelter. That’s how I found Smarty, an 11-year-old golden lab who looked so very sweet.
Thinking of Smarty sitting in the animal shelter at 11-years-old broke my heart. But I refused to go look at him on the weekend because I knew it was just too soon after Baby. But then Old Dog Haven posted him and Don texted me his picture with the caption “I need a home.” Then Don posted him on Facebook yesterday morning, saying “he’s not ours…yet.” Someone commented and Don said that he’d told me to go get him.
So I did. I’ve warned him before: if you don’t want a new animal, don’t send me to the animal shelter. Most of the dogs barked and wagged at me as I walked by. Smarty just lay there looking sad. I was a goner at that point. There was no way I could walk out of there without him, even though he was a staff favorite and treated very well. It’s just not the same as having constant companionship and your own home.
I bawled my eyes out as I filled out the application to take him outside because you had to list all your recent animals, say whether you still have them and explain why you don’t have them, if you don’t still have them. Just writing a few word explanation about why we don’t have Baby brought it all back. (And truthfully, I’d been crying on and off since I woke up – I’m still a wreck!) But then there was Smarty. He perked right up when I said the words “go outside to play” and he got very happy and animated when he saw the leash appear. He greeted me enthusiastically, pulled me around on the leash (he’s a big dog at 93 lbs!) and I paid the fee and signed the papers to bring him home.
He’s a smart dog and listens very well, even though he’s very nervous here. He sits and shakes on command. He comes when we call his name. He’s sweet and well-behaved. He seemed to bond very quickly with both Don and I and likes the boys, although he’s a little afraid of them when they first approach him. I would feel wonderful about our decision if it weren’t for my very stressed cats (and the worry about how Smarty is going to interact with them) and the irrational feeling that I’m betraying Baby. It was too soon for me, and maybe for Don too. But we’re going to make it work if we can. I wouldn’t want to put Smarty through another transition unless absolutely necessary for the safety of one of my family members (including my cats).
Since it’s been almost seven years since we brought a new dog into our home, I’d forgotten how stressful it is. I’ve got all my stress reactions going, including a pounding heart and a fever with alternating hot flashes and chills. But I have to admit it’s good to hear toenails clicking on the floor again and to see this smile: