It’s been eleven months since Daisy died; seven months since Rusty. It’s just been me and Luna (and the cats, of course) since then, and I’ve been enjoying how easy it is to just have one dog to worry about. Feeding, walks, clean up: all so easy with just one dog.
In the months that it has just been us two, I would occasionally look at dogs on Petfinder.com, but despite the appealing photos and touching stories, I couldn’t imagine bringing another dog into our lives. Too soon since the losses, too reluctant to give up our easy ways. And then, I wanted to give our relationship, mine and Luna’s, a chance to develop, to strengthen.
Daisy’s premature death shocked me into a numb automaton who just barely went through the motions. Although Luna and Rusty were mine, I felt like I was caring for someone else’s dogs: feed, let outside, pat on the head, ignore. I couldn’t do any more than that.
If you’re a dog trainer, you will be shaking your head sadly when you read what I have to say next: Luna was really Daisy’s dog, not mine. Sure, I paid her adoption fee, fed her, nominally maintained order, but Daisy ran the show. Luna was Daisy’s playmate, not mine. When Daisy went to the back door to go out, Luna was right there, ready to play. Daisy had rules. Why do you think she was affectionately known as “The Fun Police”? Luna was only permitted brief contact with me before Daisy would intervene. It worked great when Luna was jumping on me. Instead of having to train the dog to stop jumping, I would call Daisy over and she would get between me and her maniacally jumping and licking charge and it would stop.
Once The Fun Police was gone, Luna and I didn’t know what to do with one another. I wanted a big dog to press her head into my lap so I could pretend she was Daisy. She wasn’t used to having her immediate superior be a human. We figuratively danced around one another, living in the same house, peacefully co-existing, but not working as one.
Gradually, we learned each others’ rhythms and moods. I discovered that Luna’s short, high-pitched whimperings are just her way of chatting. That she only needs to be shown something once, and she’s got it down. That she prefers to eat with me standing nearby. That she loves a good belly rub. She found that I can be approached without repercussion and that I’m actually a fun, if slow-moving and short-throwing, playmate. We enjoy our time together.
So why add a new dog to this mix? Partly, becasue of my guilt and unease in knowing that there are wonderful dogs out there who need homes. Partly, because Luna could use more good doggie playtime. Partly, because the pain of my losses has shrunk to manageable size and there is now room for one more.
Maybe. I have not committed yet, but I put out some feelers on a dog who is in a local impound. I’m going to foster, not adopt. That way, I can help a dog into a great forever home without it being my home. I can help more dogs that way. But who knows what will happen down the road? Two weeks ago, I told a friend that I never wanted to get a second dog and here I am seriously contemplating at least becoming a dog’s foster parent.
It feels good to have a heart and mind open to possibilities again.
You have such a soft heart for animals…your love truly comes through in your writings. It’s a sure thing: you’re “adopting, not just fostering” another dog in the near future! ha LUCKY DOG!
Thanks, Pat. I’m going into it with the attitude of fostering…we’ll see how things work out.
Your pets are a part of your journey through life. The transitions between loss, acceptance and new adventures are a testament of who you are. You have and will touch many animal lives, sharing your stories and leading by example.
Thanks, Susan. That’s really nice of you to say.