February 10, 2016 by Julia
Warning: I was recently in a car accident and broke my left leg and left pinky finger. My ring finger is wrapped to my pinky finger which makes typing difficult at best. This post was written mostly by text to speech, right handed phone typing, and while I’m on some fairly heavy narcotics. Please excuse any typos or grammatical errors. I will do my best to make sure that the germain points come across clearly.
Almost exactly 4 years ago, I lost Xena to hemangiosarcoma. I knew my dog loving coworkers would understand when I took the next day off. As a distraction from my grief, I turned on an episode of Glee. It was an all Whitney Houston episode and one of the characters sang “I Will Always Love You.” She belted out the opening lines:
If I should stay, I’ll only be in your way
So I’ll go, but I know I’ll
Think of you every step of the way…
And I lost it.
You see, she died two days after my (now ex) husband and I put our NY house on the market. We were preparing to move to Maine for his job. I hadn’t found a job yet and we hadn’t bought a house yet so we were moving into the in-law suite at my parent’s house.
It was going to be cramped with two dogs and two humans sharing a bedroom and a bathroom, in addition to sharing the kitchen and living room with my parents.
On top of that, a long awaited litter of Boxer puppies would be due in March and would be ready to be picked up right about the same time we moved in with my parents. We’d gotten their blessing to have the puppy, but everyone knew it would be a challenging addition to our already tight quarters.
Now my definition of spirituality is fuzzy at best but when I heard those lines I felt a deep stab of sadness. It felt as though Xena had left us to make our transition easier and to make room for the next dog (Delta, who was coincidentally due on Xena’s birthday).
What’s all this have to do with Dash? I’m going through another period of transition. I’ve stayed in several locations since I left the house I shared with my ex husband, living a semi-nomadic life. I have the dogs with me every other week. I’ve been searching for a house for about 8 months. The prospect of dealing with his declining health and mobility is weighing heavily on my mind as my search continues. Preferences that I already had have become deal breakers instead. I see houses with a dozen steps to the yard and immediately count them out. I see hardwood floors throughout and imagine all of the area rugs and small throw rugs that I would have to buy to make it so that he could navigate his home.
I feel the push to find a house because my parents house is not well setup for access a fenced in area to share with Delta who goads him into more playing and running than he’d do on his own. Thankfully there are only three steps out the front door that we could use for potty breaks, but neighborhood walks would require walking up and down the very large hill of their driveway.
Living with my parents would provide extra help in managing his condition, but would also put a burden on them. It would subject them to watching his steady and inevitable decline. I may not have mentioned it before but his Grummah is possibly his favorite person in the world, and the feeling is mutual. Seeing him during visits, hearing reports from me, and photos on Facebook are an entirely different experience than watching it everyday, first hand. I do not want to add layers to her heartbreak when we have to say goodbye.
No matter if I find a house or I end up living with my parents again, the road ahead will be challenging. I just hope that he knows that I want as much time with him as I can have. He does not need to go, he is not in my way, we are in this together.
PS: Many thanks to my ex, Aaron, for taking on temporary full-time custody of the dogs while I heal. And more thanks than I can express for taking time out of his own busy life to bring my pups for individual visits once or twice a week.