Lemonade out of Lemons
One month ago I had to say goodbye to my sweet puppy. Ollie had been with me since she was six weeks old and at just over five years old I had to put her down. It was the right choice for my girl but terribly sad. Then when your dog dies life still goes on. I came back home, and life went on, only not like before. I used to get out for two big walks a day. I have tried going without her, and really it is not that enjoyable for me. She used to cuddle with me, sleep beside me, force me to get outside and play, she used to be front and center on my to do list, as well as the one to fill my heart, make me laugh, and gave me so much joy. Since she is gone I have felt a huge hole; I have all this puppy love and no puppy to give it to. I didn't think I was really a dog person, just a person who loved my dog, but am learning that is not the case.
I thought going to the SPCA would be nice, I could walk some dogs, and that would be great. Only it broke my heart. Seeing those dogs in cages with the number of days they have been in there, some of them hundreds of days, was so overwhelming I could not stop crying and had to sneak out trying not to be seen after only minutes. I could not have even made conversation. I went home and felt crushed by the pain. My sadness for those dogs is real, but it may also be some displaced grief. Loss is hard to process and can be triggered when we least expect it. I could not save my girl from her pain. Hell sometimes I cannot even protect myself from my pain and seeing them in there made my emotions around loss and abandonment, loneliness and fear come rushing up. I could not get those dogs out of my mind but what am I to do? I can’t adopt all abandoned dogs.
But if there is one thing I know it is that action can help. My love for Ollie needs a new outlet, my desire to help is real, and the energy that is right now coming up as hurt and sadness could be redirected into action, used as fuel shifting it from stuck sadness into a passion project. So, the next day I went back, with backup. My man came too. I knew I was not able to go there alone, but I also knew that the urgency at which I feel called to get involved would not relent. From the outside for me it is heartbreaking. But on the flip side, these dogs have people caring for them, making every effort to find them a new loving home, and that is beautiful. My second visit went better. Not without heartbreak, it is palpable for me, my body hurts and it is like all my pain that is not processed comes out, and I project it one them. I know they are stressed, I know that the environment is a challenge for them, but I also know they are resilient. So I have two choices, turn my back because it is really sad for me, or get more involved. Get involved enough that I see the beauty. Help in a way that allows me to feel the joy of being around these sweet animals instead of standing back feeling pain for them while doing nothing. In this case, action will help me, and them!
I am not sure how it will look yet. I am not sure my role, but I do know that at this very moment getting involved is an undeniable need. I just kept picturing my sweet Ollie there. How she would likely have been deemed high risk because without a lot of exercise and attention she would not have behaved as wonderfully as she did with us. How she interpreted some situations as stressful and needed a lot of support, how her temperament would not have shown well in that type of situation, but at home, with me, she was the best. The very best and I miss her every day.
I thought maybe I'd get used to not having her and would start to enjoy the freedom. More time to do whatever I wanted. But I crave a dog walk. No more dog hair all over the house, but now never needing to lint brushing my pants makes me sad. Yet, I don't feel called to a new puppy. Ollie taught me about tough love. She loved me when I am sure I was not easy to love. She was patient with me when I was hurting. She took time with me and slowly I came back to life. I see some of the difficult dogs and think, on the surface, they may be a little tougher to love, but they just need someone to help. They arrive with a story we will never know. Their stories would break your heart, and I too have a story that would break your heart. It breaks mine often, but it's also broken me open. I see them; they are not broken they are just needing someone to help them write a new story. I was not the easy choice for a girlfriend, but I, like these pups, was eager to love again to trust again and to have a family again. I just wasn't sure how. Filled with fear. He was patient with me, and I came out of my shell, and now I am not even close to the girl he first started dating. He was someone who allowed me to bring out the best of myself. Maybe I can be one of their someones.
Following my heart. In times of joy and in times of pain, it is a motivator and a compass. Sending you in the right direction and giving you the fuel needed to get started. I may not know how I will help, or what my place will be, but at this moment in time, this is pulling at me in a way that will not be ignored. So, I am looking into how I can be of service. How I can help, how I can get up close and personal with a situation that on the surface makes me very sad but from another angle could also inspire me. I miss Ollie, I miss the activities we used to do, and somehow I have found my way to dogs that need help. Not knowing how it will play out but feeling so strongly about it that I have no choice but to explore. Stay tuned….