Thursday, March 17, 2011

dog days

So the problem with allowing so many weeks to pass with no updates is that when I finally do sit down to write I have too much to tell you and I fear no one will bother to read all the way through to the bitter end.

Thus, I write nothing and that nothing looms larger and larger and larger as the days pass.

Suffice it to say, I have been swamped by this dog. Zoey.

She came to us a month ago and will one day soon be moving on again, hopefully to find her forever home...a place where people are dog savvy and have the time and energy to put into her what she needs.

It's such a long story. And I hesitate to bore you with the details. (But if you really want them, they are below, at the end of this post.)

The sum total is that I like to believe she came into my life to teach me a few things and here's what I've learned so far:
*Listen to that little voice that resides over behind your right ear. The one that mentions the niggling doubts. Listen to that voice next time it says, "Hmmm. I think this isn't such a great idea."
*Make yourself first on your list for once. It's time to take care of you.
*Don't let everyone walk all over you. When you get ignored and you let it pass, you can't be happy with the outcome.
*Looks ain't everything.

Oh do I love this dog, but oooh boy this is not the right time to be care-giving for one more needy creature.

I am now facing some health issues that have been stubborn in leaving. The past four weeks with Zoey in residence I've not been able to care adequately for myself and barely for anyone else. A week ago I finally, finally realized that as much as I wanted to invest in this dog it was going to be at least a year before things calmed down and I don't have a year to put off the other important issues.

I will let you know more soon. I was just glad that I had a moment to write tonight.


Her name is Zoey and we brought her home four weeks ago.

As you can see, I haven't had a lot of free time on my hands to write, to think, to cook or clean or home"school" or even take a shower. It feels a lot like we adopted a toddler rather than a puppy. A toddler with sharp teeth.

She can not be left alone or she will destroy something.
She has the energy of ten men.
She is hands down the cutest dog at the dog park. She is very likely the cutest dog on the planet.
She is fast. No, I mean she is fast. In fact, when folks ask me what kind of dog she is I generally say, "She's part terrier, part speeding bullet." Yes, I say that.

And we're giving her back. Back she will go one of these days to Jon, the nice foster man who handed her over to us four weeks ago.

Our dog saga started on our lovely beach vacation in Cayucos when Ben declared that he wanted to get a dog. I told Mark, oh don't worry...this too shall pass. (Mark's not really a dog person, you see.) Ben and I got on the computer right away though, his passion for this concept running hot, and we read about dogs and watched dog videos. (An excellent homeschool research project.) We made a list of pros and cons and what kind of dog we were looking for (fully grown, not too big, sweet, mellow). At a certain point, I think it was when we got home and Ben's XBox started to look more interesting than dog books, I started to get more excited about the dog venture than Ben.

I went a few different places with my dreaming. Forgive me, but I was thinking of this dog, Ben's dog, as a way. A way out. A way of healing a boy who's had more than his fair share of pain and suffering. A way back to the boy he once was, the one who was so animal-sensitive and so physical, so in his own body. I was thinking, get this boy a dog and he will heal from all the nightmares and painful moments. So I started to push the dog concept a bit too much.

A voice in my head was definitely saying, Whoaaaaa. Hold on. Notice the boy at the XBox. Notice he is less interested than you, Mama. But I kept checking in with him and he kept telling me, Yeah, I do want a dog.

I knew better. I knew I was already maxed out with two horses, two mini-donkeys, two cats, and three boys. Oh and my wonderful, patient, forgiving, and ever-wise husband. Maxed. Out.

And yet.

I pushed on.

And we came home with this adorable terrier. The opposite of most of the qualities on our list. [Terriorists is what they call them at the dog park. And now I know why. She is so much a terrier. Rather than look up at me and ask with her brown eyes, What, o wonderous mistress, can I do to please you? She looks away from me and wonders (I can just see the wheels turning), Hmmm, how can I get this lady to do what I want?]

And just 24 hours after she came home Ben declared that he had changed his mind and he did not want this dog. He did not want any dog. He did not want the responsibility of a dog. (We talked about cold feet, new parents, etc. Didn't help.)

That was rough. All the rest of us had fallen for her, including Harry who is an avowed non-dog person. And Ben was turning his back on the whole thing.

I struggled with how to respond. After all, it was his idea. She was supposed to be his dog. He named her Zoey. What would happen if I just said no to his no? What would it mean if I said yes? And what about my hopes and dreams for them, this boy and this dog?

Well, I said no. I said, we all want this dog, maybe you don't but now the rest of us do. We started working with a trainer...that didn't go so well. My sister Mara came up and worked with me. That was wonderful...wonderful for me and Mara and wonderful results with Zoey.

But it the end it isn't enough. The reality of it all is that I don't have it in me to do this on my own. And on my own is the key. I'm the mom, so it falls to me. When Zoey became the family dog, rather than Ben's dog, the responsibility fell to me. Susie's dog. All my mama-friends with dogs have the same story at their homes. The dog is theirs.

It's hard to explain why this isn't working out. I have some health issues that have been plaguing me for months, things I've been working on correcting and have not made much headway on. Having this dog, this incredible time and energy suck of a dog (and I say that lovingly, but it just is so true) I have had to put my own stuff aside.

That is not the right choice. It can't be the right choice because my health is the key to the rest of the family's well being.

She loves us, we love her. That isn't the problem. It's really more a matter of timing.

I'm trying not to beat myself up about it. But it's hard to let her go...


Gillian said...

Now I'm worried about you. I hope you're okay.

Sometimes a pet just isn't meant to be. I adopted two cats some time back, and it just didn't work out. They weren't into people, and with kids, that was a no-go.

Hope things are looking up for you soon.

Ilana D said...

Susie... this is one of those days where your blog title has a double meaning, DOWN (on three boys farm).

Please don't beat yourself up over this. I agree with Gillian -- some things aren't meant to be. Zoey is cute enough that she will find a home that is perfect for her.

I will send a longer note by email.

Leslie said...

Hi- you and I saw each other briefly at Ilana's party and Bat Mitzvah..boy, do I wish we'd had the chance to talk. We just- make that, I just- found a new home for our Border Terrier two weeks ago. This a dog that we had, make that I had, for 7 years. Seven.
And in so many ways your story was mine. I called him a toddler in a fuzzy coat. I've had pets all my life (sounds like you have too), but this was the one pet too many. It's been far harder than I feared letting him go but you know what? I'm adjusting. I'm starting to feel for the boundaries of my own life again and they've expanded! A lot! You're doing the right thing and it's alright. All the best, Leslie