“Let’s us know if you need anything while you’re away–we’re happy to help!” I spoke those words months ago. Fast forward to today and we are dog sitting our neighbor’s 40 pound lab mix while they are on holiday in the States for a couple of weeks.
I’ve been instructed to let her out in the yard five times a day, feeding her meals and giving her treats–upon waking, mid-morning, mid-afternoon, evening, and before bed. When our neighbor spoke to us, she did so assuming we were non-dog owners. There were the tentative looks and the hesitant pauses as she explained her particular routine–the treats, the food, the affection. And then there was the nervousness. But then, I was asked, “Have you had a dog before?”
It is emotional to discuss Blue with Russell, let alone a near stranger. There remains significant heartache that he is not with us. But there is an immense amount of gratitude and happiness that he wants for nothing–especially love. In the end, despite not being permitted to bring him, I know it was right that he stayed behind. The flight was long. Our non-pet-friendly hotel stay was long. The days are hotter than any I’ve experienced.
Blue is living the life of Riley. He swims. He goes to work. He plays. He is given plenty of affection and attention. Watching videos of him run or swim makes my heart soar. We want nothing but the very best for him and that is exactly what he has. In an effort to help Blue transition, I let him go. What was the alternative? FaceTiming. Skyping. Texting. Questioning. Second-guessing. Unhelpful at best; gut-wrenching and annoying at worst.
Not long ago, my sister-in-law sent me a cartoon showing a doctor, holding a leash to a small dog, speaking to a patient, “Low energy? Depressed? You can try B-12, but we’ve had a lot of luck with K-9.” Indeed. Despite the rainy days, despite the time commitment, and despite walking through spider webs and stepping on snails at night, caring for our neighbor’s dog is just what I needed. She is sweet. She is loving. She is calm. She brings joy to my life.
Yes, she makes me think about Blue more than usual. Truly, it’s not Blue I’ve been thinking of, but his family. His current family, that is. His family that stepped up and stepped in when needed. His family that looks after him and cares for all of his needs. His family that gives him affection on demand. To be certain, that is love. And for them, I am more thankful than words could ever express.