Have a Heart (On Being Worthy of a Dog)

I met Carol under circumstances made pretty sad and awkward by the fact that I was taking her dog away from her. That’s the truth of it and she could not have been more gracious. Life had conspired to make it unwise for Carol to keep her dog, so dear to her, but a dog too large to handle in her own increasingly fragile state. I think she probably begged God about the alternatives, but in the end called the Wheaten Rescue and relinquished her best buddy to their capable hands and hearts. Now, it was time for that sweet pup to move on to her new home and I was the “take her away” part.

A desperately sad good-bye.

I did what anyone would do under the circumstances: I brought my sister with me.

Kim is a kind, good woman who knows a thing or two about sadness and making people feel at ease. So we sat and talked and cried altogether and somewhere in that process I committed to helping Carol find a new pup; a quiet, small one in need of loving by a person who still had so much loving yet to give.

We tried, for weeks we tried, searching the Internet, following leads, filling out rescue application after rescue application, but to no avail. We were too late, too early, too far away, found deficient (no fence, relinquished your last dog) And, by far the worst….too old. It was enough to break a person’s heart, if you had one for such things. It was surely breaking Carol’s.

In the end, Carol’s niece got a lead on a private adoption and, with their great help, that pup was to become Carol’s new baby.  So it was that Gordy and I found ourselves on a road trip last Sunday, picking up Carol and driving down the coast to put that pup in her arms.

It’s a whole new world.

There is something stubbornly magical about all of this; how life conspires to contract as you edge nearer to its perceived end and how it is the little things that keep the energy of life flowing in. Like being found still worthy of a dog, as Carol is. Why that was hard for the rescue “system” to see is of great sadness to me. She is not too old and besides, we have plans, which is what good dog people do: If something were to happen, that pup is safe with me. It’s simple, if you have a heart to see it.

Such a sweet, little thing.

I am going into such detail about all of this because it is important, but also because it is so very hard to talk about what comes next.

We have been screening adoption requests for Bruno and I, too, was making judgments about prospective homes on his behalf. Small children..no; gone all day…no; out-of-state…no, again. I was becoming pretty certain it was a sign from the heavens that we were the best forever choice for Bruno. That is, until Pat’s application arrived. Pat lost her beloved wheaten of 12-1/2 years in October and was sorely grieving for the companionship of a dog. She had been trying rescue options, but without success. You see, Pat is 90 years old and no one thought she was a good bet as a “forever” home for a pup, even a senior one like she was seeking.

I did though.

Pat was Bruno’s “very own person”, the one we had promised him. And so it was that yesterday, my awesome brother-in-law, Bill, and I took a long road trip down the east coast of Florida to bring that handsome boy, Bruno, to his new home; a thing that is easy to write and impossibly hard to experience.

He knows.

Except it also made me so happy. Pat was kind and gentle and Bruno slipped in beside her like he knew the spot. I could not have loved him more for that.

I fit right here.

Pat and I have a plan. I’m listed as a next of kin for Bruno. If anything happens, I will get the call and keep Bruno safe and provide forever, if needed. My best hope is that Pat is Bruno’s mom for the rest of his life. My reassurance to Pat is she doesn’t  have to be.

It takes a village.

If you have a heart for such things, you know that I am walking in sadness. My heart has a Bruno-sized hole in it and that will take some time to heal. But also, I have had the rare privilege of confirming to two wildly wonderful souls that they were worthy of a dog’s love and for them, that love made life worth living again. For me, too, my beautiful new friends, for me, too.

You’ll be okay, mom.

Writing about what sings to me from a life made full with animals.

5 thoughts on “Have a Heart (On Being Worthy of a Dog)

  1. So many thanks, Lisa, for this post. Folks don’t realize how much pets mean to elderly persons – and persons of whatever age. They often give us reasons to be, no? Thanks for your caring and thoughtful being.


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