Tuesday, January 20, 2015

a dingo and a pig...

On Tuesday November 25th, two days before Thanksgiving, I had to say goodbye to two of my babies.  I think I'm still in shock.  Even now.  Even nearly two months in.  I don't think it's fully hit me.  Everything was so chaotic around the holidays, Thanksgiving, setting up shows, doing shows, Christmas, travel...I was blissfully distracted.  But now I'm not and I feel like if I fully understood it that I wouldn't be vertical right now.
It's been coming.  Seven turned 17 in October, Pasqual would have been 16 in January.  These two stayed with me, with us, probably as long as they could.  Ultimately we made the decision for them, which was the hardest, hardest part.  And I say "probably" because I have that little voice in my head that says "did I do it too soon? Was it wrong?"  I will always have that.  I can't help but constantly wonder if they would still be with me now if we hadn't decided and I get mad at myself because I think "I could be hugging you right now."  But then I think I did right, that they were struggling.  And so it goes, back and forth...
I feel gutted.
I really just cannot fully understand that it came to this...

Saying goodbye to Seven was one of the hardest things I've ever done.  Except for accepting that she is gone.  That is harder.
She's been with me for almost my entire adult life.  I was only 26 when we adopted her.  We weren't married, we had a little rental house with two cats, and I was working at Pottery Barn. 
 So much changed and she was there for all of it.  She saw hundreds (literally) of foster dogs come and go.  She begrudgingly accepted the addition of three cats and 13 dogs along the way.  She was with us for the loss of Daisy and Suki,  the only ones who came before her, and for the loss of Preacher, Delta, Clarence, Clishy, and Berklie who all came after her.  I honestly feel like I do not know how to live my life without her.  She was a constant.  A strong, almost stoic, constant.  She was tough, stubborn as all hell, not even a little bit apologetic, demanded everything on her terms...and even though it completely contradicted her entire personality, she was chock full of kisses.  Tom getting home from work was the highlight of her day.  Her ears would go back and her tail would wag and she would kiss his face with a vigor no one could rival.  The evening before she had to go Tom walked through that door and even in her wheels she couldn't contain her excitement.  I can't imagine how hard it was for him to come home from work that first day after she was gone...
I can't explain it, but the world doesn't feel right without her here...I don't know how to explain it except that if feels like someone cut off my right arm, like a part of me is missing.  In the small parts of the day where I lose track of what's happened I still have this strange feeling that part of me is missing.  And then I remember...

In October of 2000 Tom and I were in the market for a new foster dog.  We trotted down to the local rural shelter and met a few dogs.  I wanted  to take a two year old Heartworms positive boxer.  Tom wanted to take a one year old pit bull named Conan.  Tom won.
But in the long run Tom was far from the only winner... Conan quickly became Pasqual and as quickly as he changed names he won over the hearts of everyone he met.  He was the first pit bull to Grace our little rescue group and he broke stereotypes right and left.  Soon nearly every foster family in Blue Dog was not only fostering pit bulls, most of them ended up adopting one of their own.  When we had dogs who needed to be tested to see if they got along with other dogs, they came to meet Pasqual.  He was perfect.  Even keeled and calm.  He wasn't submissive and he wasn't dominant.  All of our little dogs bossed him around, even the cats could tell that big ole lug what to do.  Poor boy had scars on his face that probably led a few folks to think he'd been fought, but in fact the scars were from Clarence blighting his face as he ran out the door.  He could've eaten Clarence whole but instead he would just cry and look at us begging for help.
If I could've I would have introduced Pasqual to every pit bull naysayer in the world!  He was handsome and friendly, a love bug like you wouldn't believe, and he never met a stranger.
In the last year my handsome man developed dementia.  He started to get confused, would get stuck under the table...as it got worse he could get stuck just in the corner of a room.  The other dogs made him nervous so we had to give him Xanax just to keep him from being upset.  It was easy to put off worrying about him because he wasn't "sick".  It took my little brother sitting me down and saying "Laura, it's time.  This isn't fair to him."  
I sat with him on his dog bed in his favorite spot in the living room, his head in my lap.  I felt him get really heavy when the injection went in...it was so fast, but very peaceful.  It felt surreal.  His personality was bigger than life.  To have it leave so quietly, it was so different than how he lived...such a bull in a china shop.  He barreled through life with tenacity, fervor, and boundless love, always coming at it with full force...
I lost the yin and the yang of my house.  The polar opposites on the personality spectrum. 
It has left our house unbearably quiet.  
Unbearably still. 
 There are pill bottles and empty bowls.  Feeding time is fast. Seven's wheels are just sitting there.  I can't move them, I can't look at them...  Everything feels different. 
How can two dogs change my life so much?

Seven and Piggy,
I miss you.  Sometimes the ache feels like its gonna swallow me.  But it's all just sadness, there's no anger.  You both gave me every last minute you had to give.  I don't feel cheated, I feel grateful.  It tough though, you were here so long that you became part of the fabric of who I am and I have a hard time knowing how to be without you here.  
I miss the distinct sound of your barks, the sound your collars made as you moved through the house. Seven, I miss the demanding way you would let me know that there was something that needed my immediate attention.  I miss the way you would almost hop when you got excited, like dinner time or running through the yard.  Your yard.  No matter how many dogs come and go that will always and forever be YOUR yard.  I'll never forget how excited you were the day we first brought you to this house and you saw that yard.  I think it was as close as a dog could get to a kid on Christmas morning!  
Piggy, I miss your kisses so much.  I miss that flat, pink piggy nose snorting at me when you gave your kisses!  You did everything with great tenacity and force.  Some dogs live quietly in our house - you did not!  You barreled through every move and that makes your absence so palpable...
Making the choice to let you both go might have been the hardest decision I've ever made.  I still have times where I wish I would have been selfish a little longer and kept you with me even though I know that each passing day was harder and harder for you...  I think your bravery is what gave us the courage to be able to finally know it was time.
I love you both so much.  I miss you every day, every minute of every day.  My world is far too quiet now.  Hoping, believing that I will see you again is the only thing that keeps me going...
Go find Preacher and Clarence, find things to bark at and people to kiss.  Stay together, have fun, just don't go too far, when it's my time I expect you to rush the door, barking all the way.
all my love,
your mom