I have a dog. Actually, if you want to be honest I have that ultimate dream: a dog, a family with the requisite 2.4 kids, a home and two cars out in the driveway. In many ways it is what everyone is told from the day they are born that they should have. Unfortunately, as I am sure most people know by now that it doesn’t quite work the way one dreams.
I try not to complain nor celebrate too much. Despite the white-washed walls, I have way too much debt, a yard that won’t drain and looks like a lake anytime it rains, and carpets that no matter how much I vacuum, look horrible. My car has stains from five years of traveling with children and there is no way to even describe the incredible amount of junk I have everywhere. It is life and I don’t really despair of it. There are way too many other things that suck about my life to really harp on these – although it can make for good writing.
But I do have a dog. I have the sweetest, most wonderful spirited dog you have ever met. She doesn’t bite and she is so loyal that when she was babysat, she actually growled at the people that were feeding her (she still didn’t bite). She is healthy, energetic and young. She is in fact a great dog. But unfortunately, she was given to a owner that was ill prepared to have a dog.
I have wanted a dog for a very long time. I like the idea of a quiet companion being with me, there and loving me. I like the idea of someone to walk with and even someone to guard me and my children while I am sleeping.
I had some requirements when I went looking for a dog. First, she had to be a rescue. I wasn’t interested in a pure-bred, not because I didn’t think those dogs were worthy, but more because I wanted to save a life. To give life to something that might otherwise not be able to have it. She needed to be small, because I have a small house and little to no yard, that tends to flood. She needed to be good with children, as I had two. All these things I carefully vetted and thought about.
I am pretty sure the woman who introduced me to my dog saw me coming a mile away. I had never had a dog. I was not raised around dogs and didn’t know anything about dogs. I had read about them, and thought that I was prepared. The dog they introduced me to was perfect. She was the only girl in the litter, and she bonded with me from day one.
The rescue volunteer (who simply may not have known) convinced me that she would be a small dog, coming up to my knees. She actually showed me her paws as if to demonstrate. She explained that this dog would be energetic but like all puppies would settle down. She promised that if I took a course with the dog on training that everything would be great.
The dog I took home was everything I wanted in terms of temperament. She is smart, kind and so happy that I am happy sometimes just standing near her. She is healthy and has never caused any major problems. Here’s the thing though, she is huge. She weighs 60lbs and she is absolutely so powerful that I cannot take her for a walk without a shock collar. If I try to put her on a leash, the first time she wants to go one way and I go the other…I am on my butt in the middle of a pond. Every time. And she isn’t doing it to be mean, or even misbehaving. She is being a dog. She is following her nose to a scent and leaving me in the dust.
Because of her size, and the size of my house and yard, that dog sits in the garage most days. Both my husband and I work difficult hours, and to top it off my home doesn’t have a dining room table, so whenever the kids want to eat (which hello, is always) I have to put my dog back in the garage so as not to tempt her.
Being in the garage, which I admit is better than the crate, means that when we can take her out she is much more energetic and happy to see us. At first we thought this would pass with age. And then some kind soul told us that with hunting beagles, that just isn’t the case. So after three years the dog is still a puppy. A great puppy, but often exhausting.
And it is unfair. Not to me. I don’t mind paying the debt that I took on. I don’t mind the responsibility, nor do I ever want to punish an animal for my stupidity. I will never simply take her somewhere to either be used in dog-fighting or to be put down simply because I don’t want her. Maybe others can, but my heart simply won’t allow that. But I also know, without a shadow of a doubt, that her life in my garage is wrong.
So today I began the steps to find her a home. And there will be many steps in this process because I will find her the right home. The best home. But it is like giving a kidney to someone. It is a loss that I wasn’t ready to deal with, and honestly, I don’t want to deal with. But it is the right thing. And I will always try to do the right thing.
I look at this dog and see how irresponsible I was. I look at this dog and see how selfish I was. It isn’t her fault that she has an owner that can’t take care of her in the right way. She doesn’t care. It isn’t fair that this energetic and lovely dog doesn’t have room to play or be outside, which she loves. The dog doesn’t care. All she cares about is that we love her, and it breaks my heart that she doesn’t see how much more she could have.
She isn’t mad at me even after I am forced to ignore her for periods of time. She doesn’t hate me because I don’t have the things she needs most in this world. She doesn’t care that my life is so unexpectedly chaotic that she often comes last. It doesn’t matter to her. And she deserves to have it matter to her. She deserves to have everything in this world that is wonderful. She is that great of a dog.
I am going to miss her when she is gone. I am going to once again train myself not to think about a loss so that I can live with the guilt and the pain. I don’t have the time for her, but I am so afraid that she doesn’t know how much I adore her. Sitting in the garage, listening to her family laugh, does she get sad? And does she know I will go on this journey to find her a home, because I love her enough to let her go? Somehow I pray so.
She is a great dog.