Saturday, March 26, 2011

Another Day

In 1989, my husband, Ken, retired from Ford Motor Company. He had been employed at the Stamping Plant in what was then East Chicago Heights, IL. for 30 years. Ken was only 50, well truthfully, he was 49 when he officially retired. His birthday fell one month after his retirement date. I digress.

We moved to Kingman, IN. from the south suburbs of Chicago. With friends, we had built a small retirement home on lakefront property. The house was only 1100 square feet, had a wrap-around porch. In July of 1989, we moved all of our furniture, clothes, and the 2 dogs to Kingman. Our dogs were Candy and Toby, Sheltland Sheepdog Collies, who were litter mates. They were frisbee loving dogs, would chase balls, and Ken had trained them not to go beyond the boundaries of our property. At that time, the dogs were 7 1/2 years old, but still very active.

For whatever reason, Toby (the male) developed anorexia that winter, the first winter we had spent at the lake. It was bitter cold in December and January with lots of snow. Toby would go out, and not want to come into the warm house. He lost half his body weight, and in February of 1990, tears streaming down my face, I took him to the vet to be put down. We had tried everything, I knew he was suffering, and I could not stand to see him in this condition.

Down to one dog. Candy was about to turn 8, had been with Toby since she was 1, and missed him. To compensate for her loss and ours, we played hide and seek in the house, Ken telling Candy to "use your nose." I took her for long walks, off leash, because our wooded community was sparse on population during the winter months. She went everywhere with us. In time, she became used to being the only dog. Candy helped me grieve and move on with my life. She was an incredible companion when I was informed that my husband had multiple myeloma in December, 1991. We lost Candy to old age ailments in 1994. I was devastated, and when Ken said no more dogs, I agreed. He was in the midst of double hip replacement surgery. I was the driver and care-giver, tending to all of my husbands medical needs. I turned all of my efforts to my husband, guarding the soft spot that existed for dogs in my heart. Guarding it against being hurt.

In January, 2009, the man I was with bought Gracie as a pup. By April I had purchased my home, we were splitting, and Gracie came with me. In October, 2009, I drove to Green Bay WI to pick up Sarge from his previous owner. It was love at first sight, for both Gracie and I. Fast forward....

I was told recently that "dogs don't have souls." Also, that "dogs don't have feelings." Really? I did not ask this individual how they ascertained this, what criteria was used to determine these so called statements of fact. I happen to disagree. Gracie looks for Sarge in the house constantly. She whimpers, whines, and at times I swear she is crying. When she is feeling really insecure, she jumps up next to me and snuggles, something she has not done since she was a pup, before we brought Sarge home. Sarge was the one demanding my attention, on a fairly regular basis. I think Gracie is trying to fill the void. She knows when I need attention from her.

Today I am going out, yet again. I am going out for Gracie, for me, and in the memory of Candy and Toby. Hanging up new signs. I have to try one more time. And then it is done. Gracie will be with me, as will a woman I met through the newspaper ads I placed for the missing Sheltie. No one understands a dog mom like another dog mom. Unless new information comes forth, this is the last time. I have to forgive myself for allowing this to happen, even though I still believe with all my heart that someone tried to steal Sarge and he got away. I have to allow the pain to exist, learn from this lesson, and move forward with my life. I do have a life with Gracie. I do have a life with friends and family. I do have a life.

Thanks for stopping by.

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