Saturday, March 26, 2011

Happy Trails, Zozo

Zoey and I took our last walk together this morning. It was bittersweet.

I can't get out of my head the thought that I'm cutting this relationship short, selling her short in a way. Giving up too soon. While she spent much of the time pulling on the leash, wanting with all her might to go chase some birds or say hello to the sheep, she also periodically would turn and look back at me as if to say, "You still with me?" She was good on this walk.

About two weeks ago, after I'd decided to let her go, she was awful on walks. She pulled and pulled, was totally distracted, disregarded everything I said to her. When I told her to sit she'd look away, as if to say, "Hmmm. I don't think so." And rather than calmly reinforce the command and require her to sit, I got totally overwhelmed with her disdain. It pushed my buttons so completely that I could feel my heart begin to race and my mood change. One thing I don't need in my life is one more person to disregard what I have to say. That happens a bit too much around here. Three boys, two horses, two mini-donkeys and two cats...that's plenty, thank you very much! Poor dog just didn't have a chance, especially since she's a terrier. It's her nature to be distracted and to come late to the obedience table.

Unfortunately, I couldn't help but hold it against her. I took her disdain so personally.

Last weekend, about a week after I'd formally told the foster guy I was done, I felt Oh So Done. More done than before. Every chewed up piece of plastic, every time she refused to listen to me, every time she went to eat her poo (oh, did I forget to mention that lovely habit?) I would get livid. And I moved away from her emotionally. Well, guess what? Her behaviors all got worse. More chewing. More ignoring. More poo-eating.

On Monday I called the foster guy and asked politely when he'd be able to take her back. (He'd told me he had a foster with him and was waiting to place him.) I told him how hard it was to be with her. He said, "Sort of like when you've decided to get a divorce but no one's moved out yet." That was it and I had to laugh.

Something changed, though, after that. I went back to her with my open heart and decided that I could give her the love and separate, too.

Surprise, surprise...this week went much better. She was able to be more mellow, because I was paying more attention to her. She didn't exactly obey me on our walk today, but she didn't pull too much and she did look back at me to check in. Improvements, right?

And so I am torn.

She's bonded to me, even if she doesn't listen to me. She's bonded to us all. When Mark comes home she's so excited. When Harry takes her on a run, she's delighted. She doesn't give me that happy dog smile, almost ever, but if I get up and leave a room, she gets up too. She follows me everywhere and needs to know exactly where I am.

I remember when Jill, the trainer we worked with at first, said that Zoey was a challenge for her to work with so she was going to be impossible for us. I remember when Steve, our family therapist, after hearing me list all the health issues I'm trying to work out, looked at me and said, "You can't keep her. You need to take care of you." (But then, how he called that night and said he really understood how hard it was to give her up, how special she was, how even he was considering taking her...*)

I feel so selfish, sending her out into the world again. I wish I could tell her why she won't be with me any more. I wish I could watch her through a one way mirror to make sure she is happy in her future. (Certainly, having read Black Beauty as a child does not help me now.)

If she was truly a family responsibility, it would work. And this week the kids have pitched in more. But, I'm certain that's because it's temporary. Harry had no problem taking her out for a few runs, but he knows it's short lived. Ben and Toby took her outside for a potty break numerous times, and hung out with me at the dog park, too, but that's because they know it's only for a few more days. If it were on-going--nay, forever--they'd be putting up a fuss. And I already didn't have the time to spare. So now...what makes me have more time for her?


And so in an hour Mark and Harry will pack her into the car crate and take her to meet up with the foster guy (who will be delivering her to another foster placement in the East Bay). I'm saying good bye at home and then turning to other pursuits. Mark's my prince and he's doing that princely thing. Saving me the tearful drive home after the drop off. I feel somewhat like a weakling, but I like feeling his support. Why put myself through it if I don't have to?

Happy Trails, my sweet scruffy girl. I'll miss ya.


Anonymous said...

You're doing the right thing, and she will be fine. If she's bonded with you and become part of your house this quickly... then she will bond with her next owner just as quickly too. She is adaptable.

Susie (aka Three Boys Farm Mama) said...

Thanks, friend. You're right. Breaking up's so hard to do though!

Anonymous said...

We have had to get rid of two dogs and I know the feeling. We had one for 3 years. It is painful, but their is joy knowing she will find a great home.

Anonymous said...

seems like timing issue to me. You need to focus on other things now... I am there too. When the older boys are gone it may be just right to do this again, but now is not the time...
You are doing the right thing. Bless Mark for his support.
We love you with or without Zoey...
sending you my love, Shawna