I gotcha, Doug.

Dear Doug,

A year ago I was broken. I was overwhelmed with grief and I was paralyzed under the weight of there being no dogs here. Jakey had not been gone that long and the void in my heart and in the house was crushing me. I’d met dogs and all of them made me have breakdowns. None of them were the dog I wanted.

The dog(s) I wanted had died.

So I gave up. My exact words were: it will just have to be shitty until it isn’t.

Then I saw you. I was scrolling on Facebook and I saw you and went past you and then scrolled back up and then back down and then back up. What was it about you? I didn’t think: you’re not Jake. I didn’t say: it feels too soon. In you, I saw the love-child of my delicious duo. More so, I saw a tomorrow that you could be in. I brought you home (one year ago today) and there were no breakdowns, at least none that were grief driven.

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In the first weeks that followed, my feet bled.  This is not some sort of poetic rhetoric, they literally bled because you were insane and tried to eat my feet with every step I took.  Every step.  I remember running and hiding in the bathroom.  I googled steel toed shoes.  Steel toed footwear in the heat of summer = not cute. During those torturous weeks, you made me miss Jake more.  I won’t lie, I did not love you. I regularly asked myself and you out loud, what was I thinking?

In addition to my bloody stumps, you had more energy than all the dogs combined times infinity. We walked non stop and still you were wound up and running zoomies. Still trying to leave me footless. How was I going to walk you with no feet?

I cried. A lot. About you. You were not at all what I wanted.

But then it was October. Then November. And we’d worked on you chewing toys and not feet and although I was still sad about Jake, I was not as unsure about you. December came and I still cried myself to sleep missing Jake, but I woke up smiling that you were here.

You saw me through almost all the firsts I had to go through without Jake. You were fairly insensitive about my sadness, in fact most times when I would cry you would jump on my back and chew my hair.

In hindsight,  you were everything that I needed.

I didn’t need a hug. That was Melvin’s job. Melvin’s collars were too big for you. I didn’t need you to make me laugh, Jake had that covered.  Jake’s jackets were too small for you. What I needed was a disruption to the structure of grief. I needed to go a little crazy.  Who better to show me that than you? You are my boy in the middle. Sandwiched between your brothers. Sort of like that circle on the top of your head.IMG_1852

You crept slowly into my heart.

I didn’t love all the walks, but the fresh air healed me. I was not excited about how much training you needed, but it helped pass time that would have otherwise been spent wishing Jake was still laying on the couch next to me. I didn’t love that you were such a terror, but every night I went to bed, I was almost too exhausted to be sad.

You were not the dog I wanted at first. But no dog was.  Today, I know with certainty that we were meant to be. Not just because you are addicted to surgery and I love going broke, but because when you look at me, my heart squeals. You are so much like Melvin, and so much like Jake, and nothing like them at all.  Even though you never met them, I still feel like you are brothers, that you are connected to them, and I do not think I would have felt that way with any other dog but you.

Your story is the opposite of mine.  You never had a family to lose. You never had someone committed to your health or well-being. You never had a home, or beds or peanut butter. If there is one thing I know, it’s that the universe will send me the dogs that others would not be able to go the distance with. I will travel this crazy life with you and your wonky Barbie legs, always.

I know you know you’re home.

Thank you for joining me on this journey of joy.  You are a strong force in this army. You bring the joy AND the funk.

You own my heart. Sure, some days I am still worried you will chew it up like one of your beds or swing it around like one of your Jolly Balls, but as all unconditional loves go, I’m willing to take that risk.

Happy Gotcha Day, bud.  I love you.  Forever.

 

 

Doug the power plant.

Doug has been here for a little over a week now. His energy could provide power to New York City. I’m exhausted! He is exuberant, mischievous and a complete love bug.

A lot of my photos of him look like this:img_0318

I’d be lying if I said he was easy. As a reminder, I went from Jake, who was paralyzed and loved to nap to Doug, whose idea of a good time is pretending like he’s a backpack (on my back) when I’m trying to sit on the couch and rest my weary bones. So some of the challenge is me and what I’m used to.

He be cray, but I love him.

He’s doing great with housebreaking, he’s only had one accident. It wasn’t really even an accident because he had already been out and he seemed pretty purposeful in his actions.  Dude does not realize that I know intentional peeing when I see it.

We have gotten our walk schedule down.  I’m not sure who thought it was a good idea to get a young dog during an East Coast heat wave. For the past 10 days I have felt perpetually sweaty and my Apple watch alerts me everyday that I have met my exercise goal, by noon. His energy has been a challenge, a little due in part to the fact that I work from home and when I say work I mean I REALLY DO WORK. The challenge is, I’m here, so he wants me to play. We are slowly working out together time and independent time. We take our first walk in the morning after he eats. We take a 2nd walk around lunchtime, our 3rd walk late afternoon and our last walk after dinner. In between each walk I will take him into the backyard and play Jolly Ball or fetch with him. Sometimes he just runs zoomies on his own and I stand out there asleep with my eyes open. The rest of the day he plays in the house and even sometimes takes load off and rests.

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We started back with our trainer.  I cried when I was waiting for her to arrive. She has only ever trained Jake. In fact, our first session for Doug was paid for by a left over session from Jakey. It just felt odd for her to be here and for Jake to be gone. I am coming up on two months without Jake, I still have many more of these types of moments to go through. But Doug did great on training day one and we have practiced our homework of touch and sit every day.

For the most part, Doug is a lot like Melvin. A lot. The early-years-Melvin that used to leap off the back of the couch and fly into the glass french doors (that were closed) to try to chase squirrels. I recall having to call upon a lot of patience for that Melvin, the same way I am calling upon it now for the Dougster.

Doug is young. He doesn’t know any rules, or any commands and doesn’t know what is expected of him. When I say words to him that the boys used to know, he just runs zoomies at the sound of my voice. He went from being a stray, to being in a shelter, to being in foster to me. It’s easy to get frustrated when he mouths my feet with each step that I take (trust me, I walk into the bathroom, shut the door and count to ten a lot. Sometimes I count to 50). Or to curse when he jumps on my back while I’m resting my bones on the couch (instead I take some deep breaths and I stand up and wait it out). Instead of yelling or correcting his every move, I look at a photo of Melvin and I recall our journey from wildebeest to soulful boy. From crazy to sweet. I recall what’s possible. Then I look at Doug and I know that he does what he does, out of pure joy for life. A life that I am responsible for guiding. He just has to learn to focus his joy on good, not my feet.

I still wake up and wish that Jake were here too. I wish Melvin and Jake were both here to help me guide Doug.  But they are not, so I will lead him. Doug keeps me in the here and now, the here and now where I have to stay very hydrated!

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