I have been here for a month now. They are nice to me. Everyone is nice to me. I think they feel sorry for me sometimes, but I know the girl tries not to show that. She knows I am full of pride and despite my lackluster coat and my foggy eyes, she knows I carry myself so carefully I almost fall sometimes. [and about that lackluster coat and my foggy eyes, both these things are improving by the day]
I do a lot of sleeping. I dream. I think of you. I remember all the good times we had together, and I remember your good intentions. I remember holidays with you, vacations I came along on. I remember being in California, and I was young and handsome and you wanted me with all your heart. I remember you looking at my promising pedigree, marveling at what a good boy I was, what a wonderful Malinois I was.
You promised me forever. I did not think I would have to worry, as I neared the end of my days, where I would be laying my head down at night.
When you met her on the thruway that day, I tried so hard to be strong. I even tried to convince you to change your mind. I regret that. I didn't mean to make you feel worse. You carefully led me out of the car, and up until that point, I honestly thought we were just going for a long car ride, me and you. I desperately tried to clamber my way back into our car, my old bones failing me, but not quite because I made it back onto the rear seat, where I rode for so many years while you drove [i remember happy days, where your son, who i helped raise, would read to me as we drove along]
I saw her and I knew this was it for us. You both had tears in your eyes, and I thought about fighting. I wanted to fight because [and this was just a fleeting thought] YOU didn't. But I did what I have always done, I looked to the ground, moved forward and did what you told me to do. You've never steered me in the wrong direction, dear owner. You always fed me, took me to the vet when I needed to go, and you bought me toys and treats and I always had faith in you. I knew you wouldn't send me off with someone who would be mean to me, but I was still scared. That car ride home was long, and if I'm being honest, I have never felt that alone before. Not even in California, before we met. Not even then.
My ears, tattered and repaired, my nails long and brittle, my coat dull and my lungs failing, with lumps scattered throughout my old body, I was sent packing. My life came down to this: My patchwork quilted dog bed, which I loved and laid on until it was so soft. My blue airline approved crate, which I flew to NY from CA in years ago [i remember the look on your face when we were reunited- i was so happy to see you]. Many toys from years past, and frisbees you knew I would never play with again, but couldn't stand to see laying around after you sent me away. A choke chain, which was promptly removed when I arrived at her house. A food dish. A 3" stack of paperwork from when I was very young up until the last time you took me to the vet a couple years back. She tried not to cry the first night when she shuffled through my history as she sat at the dining room table, and I would have tried to comfort her but I was put into a crate with my bed for the first night so I would feel secure. It didn't help much. I felt alone, and I kept hoping you would come back and get me; that this was all just a big mix up, like the time time you boarded me at the kennel; of course you'd be back.
I waited. For about two weeks I waited for you. She caught me sometimes, quietly howling in the early morning hours. Dogs can't cry tears you know. I tried to be quiet, but I missed you. She would come and put her hands on my face and tell me it was okay, and she tried so hard to be honest. She said "They're not coming back for you Ty". I didn't believe her at first. I was angry at her. How could she say those things about you, my master, the one person in this world I trusted?
I know you tried as hard as you could. I hear her talking under her breath to her friends sometimes, and I hear her say how you could have tried harder, but I know the truth. I refuse to believe anything different. You were moving. They didn't allow dogs. I'm a dog. End of story. I forgive you.
I want you to know that this has been incredibly hard on me. On my old body. You won't be here to celebrate my 15th birthday with me, but she will. She wakes up earlier now that I'm here, because she likes to have extra time to prepare my breakfast (and if there is a positive here, it's that I eat great food. I know I never complained about what you fed me, but this stuff is good grain-free something or other, and I get lots of raw treats too). I have watched her these past few weeks, closely. She is no-nonsense, but when you crack her open, she's soft as the tissue she uses to dry her eyes when we get talking. She tells me she loves me, and then she doubts herself. I tell her it is possible, not to worry. And I am beginning to love her. She's reliable. She keeps her promises. She's kind. She is everything you were and so much more, my dear owner, and my memory of you is fading with every kind pat, with every raw turkey neck, with every massage, with every new dog bed, kiss goodnight and cookie I receive before bed time. Yesterday, I ran up to her and threw my head under her hand. I think it surprised her, and I think I even surprised myself with how happy I was to see her. I hope I live here for a very long time. For the first time in a long time, I live with other dogs, and they bring me joy. They are young and hopeful, and I am confident when I tell them that their hope is well placed, because this one, this girl, she would never let you down.
You will always live in my heart, but after a month, I think I am finally letting go of you. Because I have to. You have made your decision, and I have to live with it, and I have chosen not to suffer; you wouldn't want that.
So here's to you, my dear former "owner". You were my world. And now you are just a memory. This is where I belong now. I'm home.