Dogs, and the companionship they offer, have been a big part of my life. As a child I calculated for years before talking my parents into a family dog. The humane society was where I found my pups during my adult years. First Sahm, then Boscoe then Tony. I wrote them into job contracts and rental agreements so that the dogs went where I went, they were part of the Marcy package. When diagnosed with terminal cancer, my long time dog pal of 16 years was on his last legs. He was increasingly deaf and blind and the drama of that year was hard for his deteriorating systems. He hung on and on but died the summer after my diagnosis. I was dogless.
My husband, taking seriously the needs of caretaking me, seeks anything that makes our lives simpler. He liked having no dog. The next summer a lovely cat with enormous personality moved into our backyard. We co-existed well. The cat clearly was feeding herself and content so we just enjoyed the daily visits. When the cold weather set in we finally bought cat food, kitty litter and allowed the cat to continue her co-housing. Mike was thrilled to say, “See, you have an animal.” I responded with, “Yes, a cat.” We both loved the cat and the cat did her best to act the part of a dog, following me from room to room, inside or out, and being a companion. But she was not a dog.
As I began the arduous treks to Philadelphia for treatment this past Spring, entering the Hail Mary Pass of an immunology clinical trial, I felt hopeful and a bit entitled. Surely for all this effort I was earning a chance to reclaim parts of my life. Maybe I couldn’t go back to our home in the woods or working fulltime plus or having long hair but wasn’t this effort worthy of some chit? Wasn’t I now eligible to have a dog in my life? My husband only groaned in response to the rhetorical question. So I plotted in my head leaving occasional breadcrumbs about dog rescues for my husband to acclimate to.
In October, I allowed myself to start looking at photos of dogs needing homes and found an incredibly developed subculture of foster homes and transit routes that brought dogs from high kill shelters in California to Oregon for adoption. Foster homes take in these dogs as the frontline placements to detangle their hair, heal their bodies and secure wounded personas, working miracles within the first week but not without a few reduced sleep nights and much cleaning up of toileting errors. I was privileged to meet a few of these moms as I explored adoption. I stay impressed!
Sawyer was on a larger list of cute possibilities that I wanted to check out. He was actually a bit lower on the list as he looked too much like my last dog but I was learning that the all volunteer infrastructure of this dog rescue world meant that there were a lot of unanswered inquiries and false leads. Sawyer’s foster mom got back to me right away and made checking him out so easy. Plus, she provided guidance, wasn’t scared of my health status and agreed to assist in the transition by taking Sawyer back in during my first travels post adoption. It was perfect. And then there was the fact that Sawyer was pretty darn cute. And so I have a dog in my life again, complicating it hourly (no, that’s my shoe; sure, let’s take another walk; sorry, now we sleep) in a way that reassures me I am going to live while I am alive.