Saturday, August 16, 2008

A brief update

I'm feeling really irritated that I feel really guilty for still feeling crushed. I explained to my mother that I feel like a sixteen-year-old girl that got pregnant out of wed-lock and had to give her baby up for adoption; I made a choice that would make life better for the baby, but it doesn't mean that I won't feel like hell for a while.

Life is better for the baby, you know. My poor little boy had to endure an extra two and a half hours on the plane because of weather delays. When he finally landed in Amarillo and was signed for by my mother and sister, he was so happy. They let him out of his kennel to play for a bit, and he couldn't have been more excited to see familiar faces. He slept the whole way home on my sister's lap. My mother, being the good and conscious mother that she is, had to call me to ask if he normally snored.

This is Tristan--Pistol's new friend at home. They just sat and sniffed each other at their first introduction. There was some concern that the bigger dog wouldn't know how to play gently with a puppy. My little brother stood by the two of them, ready to pull Tristan off of Pistol or scoop Pistol up and take him away. But Pistol turned out to be quite the tease. He would wildly nip at the bigger dog's neck or leg, then dart back between my brother's legs for protection.

But Tristan is a champ. My mother texted me this morning to let me know that he shared his dog house with my little boy last night. I couldn't ask for more. He's such a patient soul. My family tells me that when the dogs aren't sleeping, they're playing. Tristan likes to come up to the rocks at the bay window, lay down, and feel the warmth that the rocks have absorbed from the sun as he sleeps. Yesterday, he did so with one leg hanging over the edge of the rocks. Apparently, my puppy wasn't ready to sleep yet, and he started nipping at Tristan's leg. Tristan just opened his eye (he's only got one), looked around to acknowledge the situation, then raised and released the leg to send Pistol rolling across the grass. Clearly, it was time to rest.

He's doing so well at home, just happy as much as he was unhappy here. He has great company, a twenty-four hour companion, and a back yard full of mischief to get into. That's all anyone can hope for.

It doesn't make it easier, though. There's too much I will miss out on with the kid. For now, I carry his leash in my backpack as a security blanket, just until the intensity of the loss can pass.

And as much as I hate directly addressing you readers in my blog, almost as though we were having a conversation (it just feels weird), I do have to thank everybody for sympathizing both verbally and in writing. Yes, all of this is just about a dog. But everyone has been so respectful enough to realize how important it's been to me. And every time I blog, I'm just going to expect Crystal to be reading it at the same time. You've commented on the last few posts as I've been writing the next one. It's great to have that little connection with another friend I miss.

Sorry for the disconnected writing and thinking. My form will improve as my head clears.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Requiem for my puppy

A friend of mine wrote letters to her unborn daughter on her blog. I think that's the only way that I know how to format this one and have it bring some type of consolation.

My dearest Pistol:

You're such a good little dog. Everyone that has seen you comments on what a cute puppy you are. I'm guaranteed at least five "precious puppy" comments every time we walk into the vet. You're always too stressed to notice. Even though you don't like the shots, the cold stainless-steel surfaces, and the rectal thermometer, you never fight; you just sit there very quietly and let everyone try to make you healthy. See? You're such a good puppy.

I absolutely love the way you stare at me through the sliding-glass door, following me with your eyes, waiting for me to come give you my attention. Sometimes you stand at the window, other times you lay down on the patio stairs, resting your little face on the top step. Other times you whine as you claw at the glass. I walk to the door and reach for the door handle. You know the routine, and your eyes follow me every step of the way. Then I open the door, and you go crazy. You make my heart melt, kid.

I laugh so hard when we get to play. I take your chew toys and drag them across the grass, and you pounce. It's such a simple game, but you just love it. You love to win. You just flop down on the grass and enjoy your victory... until I start dragging another toy across the grass. You keep the one toy in your mouth and try to catch the other. Never mind the fact that you already won; you just can't stand the idea that another chew toy would get away from you. You have to run at it with your front legs apart so that you don't trip on the toy you have in your teeth.

You're such a beautiful dog. I've wanted a St. Bernard since I was ten or eleven. I would check out books on Saints from the library and read up on their history as rescue dogs. I would beg my parents for one. I would draw them at school. I even had a piggy bank in the form of a St. Bernard. I loved their faces, I loved their form--I loved how they were like little bears. I've always wanted one. You're a dream come true, kid.

I love that just last week, you got so comfortable with sitting on my lap. We would go sit out on the front yard in the morning while you watched all the lovely people walk by on their morning walk. You love people, and if they wouldn't come to you, you'd always go to them. Then, you come galloping back to me, diving back into my lap. As humans get older, life holds fewer joys. Those moments when you came running back to me, almost tackling me as you jumped into my lap, will always be one of my fewer joys.

But kid, I failed you. Right now, we live with my granny and grandpa, and as much as they love you, they don't like dogs in the house. I looked for and found a place where we could live together. It took a while, though; not many people like the idea of a St. Bernard coming to live at their property. They put too much stock in movies like Beethoven and Cujo. They expect you to tear up the house and drool everywhere. They don't know that you only dribble when you eat or drink or when it's hot outside. They don't know how obedience is in your blood.

I spent last week moving in to our new place, and I got so excited about not having to close the door on you anymore, that I wouldn't have to draw a line that said, "Even though I love you, you have to stay there." After all, love isn't about drawing lines; it's about getting rid of them and feeling better for it.

Then, the weekend. Nobody could see that coming, kid. I had no idea how uncomfortable you would be with the place. Even though you liked watching TV, you just hated everything else. It was hell, buddy. It was absolute hell. I couldn't understand you to give you what you needed. And you couldn't seem to find a way to communicate with me. We tried, and tried, and tried to make it work. I cried so many times because I just wanted you to be happy. I cried when we went to sleep. I cried when we woke up. I cried when we went out for a walk. I cried when you wouldn't eat. I just couldn't help you at all. Everyone said, "Oh, give it time. He'll adjust. You just gotta give him time." I couldn't give it anymore time. I was cracking.

So, Pistol, Grandma, Grandpa, and I decided that it would be best to send you down to Texas to live with them and the dog at home. He's your cousin, Tristin. He's lonely for company too. You both whine when dogs walk by because you both want to play with them so badly. You're both such good dogs, and you'll be like two peas in a pod.

But kid, I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry to put you through all this. I didn't think I was going to be the kind of pet owner that the Human Society targets when they say, "It's not just for Christmas; it's for life." I thought I was fully prepared to take care of you. I am such a fool--truly. Everything about this is a stressful and burdensome mess, except for you. I just can't seem to make you happy, and that makes me so sad. I tried to love and take care of you, I failed, and now I've lost a part of myself. We might say, "you're only a dog," but it meant so much to me to be able to take care of you and have you be a happy dog. I just feel so ashamed and so very sorry, kid.

Tomorrow, we'll take you to the vet to get your health certificate, then we'll put you on the plane to Texas to be with family. I'm sure you'll be a happy dog there. But me? My heart will break every time I walk by the back door, and I don't see you standing there, following me with your eyes. I'll cry every time I grill chicken, and I don't have you there to enjoy it. And my face will fall every time I go outside, and I don't hear the jingling of your ID tag against your collar as you come bounding up to meet me. I love you so much, buddy. You will always be in my heart.