Taking Chico away

My baby dog is gone. I surrendered him to the Willamette Humane Society last weekend–on his 23-month birthday. It hurt bad. I cried so much I made myself sick. I know there’s no real comparison between this and giving up a human baby for adoption, but that’s how it felt. I know we’ll both be better off, but it’s so hard. I drove to Salem with this handsome dog on the seat beside me. I pet him and talked to him. At the rest stop, he behaved perfectly, as he had for the last 24 hours. Was I really doing this? Could I really do this? I did. The moment I reached the counter, a woman took my dog away. I stayed to fill out papers, acknowledging that the shelter will not provide updates on his status. He is no longer mine. I drove home alone.

Now it’s just his sister Annie and me. I hope not to torture you dear readers with more about this dog situation. For now anyway.

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On the way to Salem, we followed a school bus for a while. I found myself waving at the children inside. Although I have never craved the company of children before, suddenly I find myself wanting to be around them. I don’t want to be pregnant now. My old body couldn’t take the strain. Is it some deep-seated instinct to be a grandmother now that I’m truly a grandmotherly age? Is it that the old people around me are dying and I want a sign of new life coming up like the bulbs pushing through the dead vines in my garden? I wonder if even women who choose to be childless feel a little twinge sometimes, a need to hold a tiny hand and see life through a child’s eyes.

Now it’s just Annie and me

My family has boiled down to just my dog Annie and me. Think of us as a cautionary tale for those considering marrying an older man and not having children. Someday he might be gone, and there is a chance his children–if he has them–will no longer consider you part of the family. Or perhaps you and Mr. Right moved far away and now you don’t have the means to move back to where they live.

Last week, I told about how I need to give my other dog, Chico, away. I have not found a home for him yet. He is still in the kennel. But I do have lots of people looking, so I’m hopeful. I really don’t feel that I can bring him back to the house. He’s too much for me to handle alone. When I started this particular dog-journey, I had Fred here to help. For those who haven’t been following along, my husband is in a nursing home with Alzheimer’s Disease. Who could have predicted that when we got married almost 25 years ago?

Meanwhile, Annie and I have really bonded. Through an artic freeze and through the current barrage of rain and wind, we have spent most of our time together. We walk together, we eat together, we sleep together. When I cry, she licks my face. When she wakes me up in the middle of the night, I stagger down the hall to let her out. Sometimes she just wants company. I understand. We have both lost our partners. I no longer feel like her mother; we’re companions, housemates. We take care of each other. With luck, we’ll grow old together.

At least I’m not the weird old lady with a dozen cats. I’m too allergic to them!