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Life After Dog

DV SpookyCat      Monday, January 21, 2019

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“I feel like a jackass.“ - Me


     For months leading up to getting my service dog, I tried to be every kind of pragmatic. I looked for practical ways to plan, read the books, befriended other handlers. Logically, I knew the benefits and the potential, but when the day came to pick him up, I realized I was unprepared for letting another life into my heart and I was in complete denial of how bad my issues were. Anxiety lies.

     My dog wasn’t a band aid and he wasn’t a cure. In fact, we spent a solid three weeks looking at each other, kind of wondering what the hell I was thinking. I didn’t feel better. He wasn’t like my last dog. It didn’t feel like we were bonding, and I was having trouble accepting that this four-legged bed bug was supposed to help me. I don’t know why holding that leash made me a sudden skeptic, but I went to those books and pages over and over, looking for that piece of advice that would get me over the doubt and self-recrimination. I felt like a jackass for bonding this dog to me without being able to reciprocate.

     One day, I found myself standing outside, waiting for a weekly training session, and I said to myself, “This is stupid.” I don’t know what was stupid. I just said it. Then I broke down and sobbed. I was mourning the loss of my old normal. I was finally admitting that I wasn’t a stalwart super hero and I really needed help. My dog jumped up in my face, barked playfully and then chased his tail. That’s when I remembered my own words to so many other people. “Love comes softly.” I admit, I totally stole those from a movie that you should definitely watch, but they fit. I loved him and his aloofness. I loved that he hated being cold and that he carried around toys. I especially loved that he hogged my husband’s side of the bed and made him share his pillow.

     That was the first hill we climbed together. Over the next six months, we climbed a lot more. Unbeknownst to me, he helped a few other people scale some of their own hills. I didn’t know just how many until today. Three days ago, I had to put my service dog to sleep. It was peaceful and surrounded with love and calm. I won’t get into all the sad stuff. That’s not what this is about. This is about today.

     Today, was my family’s first day going back out ‘there’ without him. My kids are back to work and practice, but still found time to make dinner and do some extra cleaning, just to make me feel better. My husband had warned his co-workers via text, but he still spent most of the day consoling them as they wept for my sweet derpy dog that loved to visit them and bask in the praise, as he ignored them like a good, good boy. He’s angry and heart sick with the loss. I think he’s also a little scared that I will regress to my pre-dog state. He’s all but sniffed my breath and looked under my nails to make sure I’m not retreating to my dark hidey hole for another six months. We’re up to 4 times of asking if I have pants on.

     I thought I was doing okay. I made all the notifications, because my dogs [somehow] have bigger followings and more friends than me. Then I put on my winter flip flops, because *fuck socks* and went to the DMV. That lasted less than three minutes. Last week, we managed to be there for more than an hour. The operative word being “we.” I won’t bore you with the minutia of the next three hours, but two more trips to another DMV, a car dealership, and a gun store later, I was a mess.

     Even now, my heart is still beating funny, my chest hurts, I’m sick to my stomach, and I kind of feel like I’m dying. Looking back, I didn’t bring my dog EVERYWHERE I went, and kind of resented the attention and the issues that having him presented, but I haven’t felt this bad since that day I broke down at a baseball field and he chased his tail for me. I finally really get how much he was doing for me on a daily basis, even on the days I flew solo. I’d really only just begun to be comfortable and unselfconscious recently. For folks that are holding out, I want you to know something, I DO NOT regret it. I don’t regret using less medication, going out more, being happier, and feeling relaxed more often. I will be getting another dog, sooner rather than later, when my family is ready.

Article written by: DV SpookyCat; She doesn't purr but she will tell you if you're an asshole.


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