Tuesday, January 20, 2015
I took Gus on his last walk tonight. As we started out I told him that we loved him and that he had been a great companion all these years, that he was a good dog and I was so sorry that we couldn’t keep him. I told him he could go ahead and pee on anything he wanted and he happily obliged by stopping every two feet to pee on bushes, piles of snow, trashcans, his favorite rocks; marking his territory one last time, putting his stamp on the neighborhood he grew up in.
We walked along, companionably, and the chilly dusky evening grew darker around us. Gus peed on stuff and I rested in a place of nostalgia. I thought about the time we took Gus camping and made a rain jacket for him out of a plastic bag from walmart. I thought about the vacations he took with us to the mountains of arkansas, beaches in Michigan and the Washington Coast. I remembered his weight on my lap the entire four days we drove across country in a U-haul when we moved to Seattle and all the times he kept up with us on hikes and as we disc golfed. What a little trooper.
We finished our walk in silence. I felt like I should feel sad but instead I felt…nothing, empty. I had an overarching feeling of relief held at bay by a sense of shame that I should feel relief at giving our dog away.
Monday, January 26, 2015
Last week we said farewell to a faithful companion and a loyal member of our family for the past 6 years. I am confident that we found a GOOD home for our dog Gus, I just hope it’s the RIGHT home.
Gus was a great dog. He always wanted to be part of the group and as long as he had his ball, he was happy. But he was getting older and grouchier and he is a Pekingese and they are known to be a bit nippy. We had one too many incidents between Gus and Casey. No bloodshed. Well, not much. Both times we had an issue, it was the case that Gus was surprised and reacted instinctively to being grabbed at. But the baby is almost a toddler and he will only get rougher and more inquisitive and Gus was just not a dog that appreciated this.
It was a very easy decision to make but a very difficult transition for me. I dropped him off on Wednesday. As I drove him to our meeting place, I told him that I was sorry that we couldn’t keep him, that he was going to have a new adventure and a big yard to run around in and I told him that I loved him, that I would miss him. I ran out of words and we drove in silence. I felt calm but sad but even as I acknowledged these feelings I felt my walls being raised as if my inner minions were raising the draw bridge, creating a barrier from the onslaught of tears that threatened to overwhelm me.
As happens so many times in life, the day didn’t go as I had hoped or planned:
1. I went to the wrong meeting spot.
2. She told me, after Gus was in her car, that she has other dogs.
1. We were meeting at a Meijer’s Gas station, which sounds shady but I understand not wanting a stranger off of Craigslist to know where you live. I was fairly confident about where I was going as I drove there and arrived about ten minutes before our meeting time of one o’clock. I set in my car for a while, feeling awkward and anxious. All of a sudden, the lightbulb went off and I realized I was at the wrong Meijer’s! A quick check on my map app confirmed this and I had a small panic attack. Not only had I reached the perfect emotional plateau to go through with the re-homing, I just wanted to get it over with! Now I had to race to the other side of town feeling rushed, on the verge of tears, and hope that the phone number she gave me was a cell phone so she would know I was on my way. It was and she was perfectly nice about the whole thing. When I finally arrived at the correct destination, she was waiting patiently reading in her car.
2. It was after Gus was in her car that she casually mentioned her other dogs. Aghast, I, equally as casually, said, “oh, you have other dogs?” I had originally posted that Gus would be better off in a home where he was the only dog and I had this picturesque dream sequence that replayed in my mind where Gus was the only k9 companion to an elderly woman and he ran through long green grass in a fenced yard and was fed treats as he lounged on her lap. I told her that Gus may be a bit aggressive towards other dogs and that he might get nippy or territorial but she remained totally calm and confidently waved her hand, “Oh, we’ll take care of that. He will be fine.” I insisted that if it wasn’t working, she had my number.
I drove away and found a parking spot in the empty lot nearby. My heart and stomach were in turmoil and I just wanted to be alone to have a good cry but in my rearview mirror, I saw Gus’s new owner drive by as if she was following me. Perhaps she had a follow up question or wanted to see if I had changed my mind but as she drove by, I wiped my eyes and pulled out my phone as if I had just stopped for a quick chat. She continued on.
Saying goodbye to Gus was hard. The house feels empty but his presence lingers. I keep hearing phantom Gus barks coming from the back yard. I hope he’s ok. At the same time, I will admit that our days are easier and I don’t have the guilt that hung on me heavily those last few weeks, having to keep Gus on the porch, knowing that he wasn’t getting the attention or care he deserved. I know he is with an owner who genuinely cares about his wellbeing and if she can work with him and get him comfortable around other dogs, I know he will be that much happier the second half of his life.
So here’s a penned toast to Gus: “You were a great dog, our first. I wish you well on your new adventure. May the second half of your life be as full as your first.”