I’ve experienced something almost profound over the last two weeks. My husband and I had to make the decision to put our dog of 14 years, Indiana, to sleep. He was hurting and had horrible dementia, didn’t know who we were, was blind and almost deaf, hard a hard time moving and was seriously going insane. As a pet owner I know that we did right by our dog, but as Indiana’s “mom” well, my heart is still breaking. It’s not just my heart though, we are all going through a mourning process, well everyone except my two year old, who continuously announces to that world with joy that “Indi died!”
Of course along with the stress of a huge change in our household everything seems to go to hell. Dave leaves to go on a trip he had planned for months, the girls and I get sick, there are projects to be done, homework to be completed…a book to be written…minor details! And through all of this my other dog, Tess, has been an absolute nightmare! All of the sudden this dog is getting into everything! The garbage in the bathroom- which was never of interest to her in the past- is now her new favorite plaything. The cabinet that the garbage is in, in the kitchen has interesting new scratches on it. I came home to find the remnants of five LARGE heart shaped boxes of chocolates that we had gotten for the girls’ teachers totally devoured! Not just the chocolate, but the plastic, the cardboard, the foam…everything, just eaten. I cleaned the mess, furiously, and prayed that it somehow magically get digested and come out in my yard rather than on my carpet. On my next outing I came home to find a box of blow pops that we had gotten to tape to the girls’ valentines eaten, the plastic, the sticks, the gum, all gone. The only evidence of the atrocity is a claw scratch on the middle of my dining room table, and a glittery sheen of sticky sucker shards smashed into my carpet- yeah that’ll be a blast to clean!
Seriously though, a claw scratch on my table! Our once docile pooch has become a freaking ninja when not in our presence! I can only imagine the scene when we leave, her nose going bonkers as she decides which loot she will make disappear next, then the climb or jump or whatever Circ de-Solie gymnastics this dog is doing to acquire such goods. I’m so frustrated and irritated, of all the times to be doing this to ME, she has to do this now?!
Last night I was awoken by a horrible sound, any pet owner knows what I’m talking about. It’s the heaving their beloved fur ball does before the nightmare of a mess appears on the carpet. I somehow jump out of bed to make it to her in time, drag her butt out to the deck and then retreat inside, because well, it’s cold here. I praise God that I was so quick, take a step and realize, I have a wet sucker stick stuck between my toes and other things that can only be described as pure evil on my foot…oh no…no I wasn’t fast enough. There is only one thing worse than cleaning up dog vomit, and that my friends is cleaning up the vomit of a dog who has consumed five boxes of chocolates, a box of blow pops- sticks and all, a cardboard toilet paper roll (I know right?), oh ALSO insulation…where she got that from I have no idea, but needless to say I’m looking for holes in my walls now.
I was furious with this dog this morning, I found more piles of vomit around the house, I found more damaged goods, like my new mango scented body butter, the genius actually twisted the lid off and licked it clean! I’m thinking perhaps before her stint at the humane society she was potentially in the circus or… OR… considering the level of her skill, more likely running government special ops.
She has never been this way before, and I have never used her “scientific name” for a female dog so many times in a 24 hour period. (I know, I know and I feel horrible about it now, but seriously you clean up that much vomit and try not muttering something under your breath.)
As I’m dealing with all of this drama, I realize that Tess is sniffing Indiana’s bed, which I still haven’t had the nerve to put away yet. I watch as she lays down next to it, licks it a few times and then rests her head on her paws, waiting for her friend to come home. I see the hurt on her face, the confusion, the stress…a small piece of bright red blow pop stuck to her ear…but that’s not the point… she is mourning.
For the first time since we have had Tess I let her climb on my bed with me, she doesn’t know what to do, will she get in trouble? Her eyes question. This is new territory for her. I pat my tummy and she lays her head on my chest. This animal who has given me so much unconditional love was just trying to tell me she needed some back. As humans I don’t think we’re programmed that way, we take- take- take…at least I do. As a parent I think I’m so overwhelmed with diapers and dishes and SO MUCH reading HOMEWORK for a kindergartener (seriously!) that I forgot that Tess would notice that her other half was missing. And sadly I’m so caught up in my own story, my own hurt, that I foolishly decided that she is trying to make my life worse rather than seeing that she was just asking for love and help.
Now I know this is a parenting blog, but I can’t help but think this transcends to our children. Not only in their behavior and how they communicate with us, but also in our need to pull our heads out of our own drama (you thought I was gonna say a bad word… ;-) ) long enough to see that even when they aren’t saying anything we need to pay attention. Even when they aren’t climbing on our laps we need to try to hug them. Even when they aren’t saying ‘I love you’ first, we need to say it. Even when they aren’t wiping their dirty faces and hands on our jeans, we need to give them something they can make a mess with, ‘cause really messes are fun! No really they are, when you’re a kid that is, and seriously what is life without the mess? What is the point? Aren’t the messes the best stories? Aren’t the messes what keep us grounded, humbled…aren’t the messes kinda what we’re here for?
I’ll continue to “listen” to Tess, I’ll continue to allow her to grieve, I’ll most likely continue to clean up vomit for another week… and I’ll continue to pray for her forgiveness of my “human self-centeredness.” One day I hope I’m half the person she thinks I am. If I can be that person, then my human kids will have it made.