continued from the last post)
I will drop another bombshell here. I ended up being the primary caregiver of Tess, our dog, who I talked about in my last blogpost. I was the one who took her on walks, fed and bathed her, took her to be groomed, and made vet appointments in sickness and health. After the divorce was finalized, and we sold our house of nine years, there was no question in my mind that I would take her back to my hometown in Michigan.
It had been a dream of mine for years to buy one of those older homes filled with character. I imagined myself walking along Lake St. Clair where so many of my childhood memories lay (good and bad). It was something that I really wanted to do with her.
Our dog was practically the only thing my ex and I hadn’t battled over. I couldn’t risk her getting lost in the shuffle or getting dumped at the local pound. My ex had taken the kids to live with him and his new girlfriend, and I just knew I had to get the hell out of the place that held so many tragic memories. I couldn’t control the lies he was feeding my boys, and they were old enough to decide that they did not want to live with me. It didn’t really matter about what was in the divorce decree.
I guess Tess was helping with another transition—this time mine.
I’ve lost track of how many times we had to drive back and forth from Michigan to Colorado, through fog, rain, hail, snow, rainbows, heat and humidity, hotels, motels, and airbnb’s. Most of all, she was there to help me emotionally when I was in some very dark places.
Animals know how to love unconditionally. If I was having a shitty day or even if I had forgotten to take her out, I was still always greeted at the door by a dancing dog at my feet, who practically howled in raucous barks that I was home. If I found myself crying uncontrollably, she somehow knew how to console me. I spent more money than I would like to admit on boarding her now that I was “homeless,” and that hefty bill I got for teeth cleaning and several extractions later nearly caused me to double over in disbelief.
I did manage to buy a home in Michigan, and in nearly three years I will mark the day we moved in, but much to my chagrin, I had to sell it a year later due to issues with my younger son back in Colorado. This was one of those decisions that, in retrospect, I wish I had not made, but I won’t go into it here. I might go into the story more deeply, though, at a later date, as I think back to the lessons I learned post–divorce. When I recount this story to others, people often tell me, “You only know what you know.”
My clothes and everything that means something special to me is packed neatly away in a storage unit in Michigan. Okay, I mean two units—packed to the ceiling. My bed and even Tess’s bed are there, too. We both long for a home, I think, but we make the most of it no matter where life takes us. If I think about the money I have spent on storage, though, I might just have another heart palpitation.
It’s not like I was not forewarned. My brother gave me a book before I left about the very same thing that I eventually did end up doing. That was to become a statistic along with other women post–divorce who, for one reason or another, can’t get their life together enough to get their shit out of storage. If I think of the name of the book, I will let you know. My copy is in one of those boxes in storage. (It’s not doing me much good there!)
In October, I found a beach in Juno Beach that is open to dogs. It’s surprisingly beautiful. My dog was hesitant about climbing down the wooden stairs, so I picked her up and carried her down to the sand. We walked toward the water, but she stopped and stared at me and began to lead me back toward the stairs. I wasn’t quite ready to go, so I picked her up and walked with her a ways, enjoying my feet sinking into the wet sand. At one point, I bent down with her, and placed her paws in the water.
I learned she didn’t like beaches much, could not care less about the water, the birds, or the sun. In fact, she was more scared of the water than of all of our mountain adventures. I felt like this outing was pushing her out of her comfort zone.
Soon she will be pushing me out of mine.
This post is dedicated to the two dear dogs I read about who nearly lost their lives due to abuse by their owner, who thought they could easily be thrown out of the car window like so much trash. Please remember, during this holiday season, the commitment and expense and love for animals that’s involved when we bring an animal into our lives. Remember this especially if you are thinking about gifting an animal to someone. As St Francis of Assisi believed, animals are his brothers and sisters. Indeed.
Things you can do to help the voiceless:
- 1. If you see or hear of an animal being abused or malnourished, report it. Who wants to be chained outdoors all day and night in freezing or hot weather?
- 2. Visit your local shelter for visits even if you can’t adopt. Volunteer there, and/or donate food, toys, beds.
- 3. Help out an older neighbor who has a pet if they are having a hard time getting outside.
- 4. If you find a wild animal that needs care, call your local wildlife rehabilitation. I have saved many birds and bunnies over the years.
- 5. Send the animals, particular those who are in trouble, your prayers.
PRAYER FOR OUR ANIMAL FRIENDS St. Francis
(To make a Novena for a sick pet, say this prayer for nine consecutive days.)
Heavenly Father, our human ties with our friends of other species is wonderful and a special gift from You. We now ask You to grant our special animal companions your Fatherly care and healing power to take away any suffering they have. Give us, their human friends, new understanding of our responsibilities to these creatures of Yours. They have trust in us as we have in You; our souls and theirs are on this earth together to give one another friendship, affection, and caring. Take our heartfelt prayers and fill Your ill or suffering animals with healing Light and strength to overcome whatever weakness of body they have.