Posted Sat, 10/27/07
I have snatches of despair throughout the day, usually when I accompany Foofer outside and watch him from the deck steps. His favorite place in the yard is atop a hill overlooking the lower yard. It's as if he can survey his territory and remain comfortable at the same time. I typically sit on the steps, puffing on a cigarette. Sometimes he will look at me and wag his tail, other times not.
The despair comes after I realize – following a relatively normal stretch of time – that there is nothing normal about Foofer's life now. He may not be aware of it, but of course I am. He trots about and acts his typical male-testosterone-driven self, and I rejoice in this, but in my solitary moments on the deck steps it hits me that my happiness will probably be short-lived. This is when the tears well up inside me, and I feel a deep sense of anguish that comes from the bottom of my very soul.
Anyone who has dogs knows how a lifelong close bond often leads to an even closer understanding of each other's emotions. Foofer knows when I'm upset, happy or simply neutral. To show hysterics or to display a copious flow of tears in front of him would only agitate him and probably increase his own unfathomable stress level. He typically reacts to my panic or upset by growling with teeth barred and ears back, or by sitting next to me and licking my face.
I try to take Foofer for a ride in the car every day, which I know is a highlight for him. Poor Rainee often gets left behind because in her excitement she knocks Foofer around, sometimes running into his belly, which I am trying to avoid at all costs. I feel guilty about neglecting Rainee every day, and try to do little things for her on the side to make it up to her. It's not as if I am truly neglecting Rainee in a physical sense, but a dog knows when the major portion of attention is diverted elsewhere and it hurts their feelings.
(Above): Foofer and Kiki vying for sun rays by the front door (10/24/07, Spokane). Click on image to see larger size in a new window.
Close proximity to Foofer is important to me right now, although I'm sure he is fed up with what he might see as a rash of "smothering" on my part. If I can, I lie down next to him on the floor and stroke his face, or that sensitive area on the bridge of his nose between his eyes toward the top of his head. This is his calming spot, a trick I have used to put him at ease since he was a puppy in arms.
If I spend too much time in Foofer's "space" he becomes highly irritated with me. He will only take so much of the mothering, hugs and kisses before he lets me know he's had enough. I will turn to get into my own bed, and then decide I want one more kiss. Foofer will growl again, his eyes wide and teeth barred, as if to say: "For God's sake, Mummy, leave me alone! Go to bed already!"
My nighttime words to Foofer, after I kiss him for the hundredth time, are: "Hang on for Mummy. Don't let go, fight like hell." He looks at me as if I'm insane, because of course he feels fine and chipper, but I say the words anyway. And then I ask God to give me one more day with my baby - over and over again.
The next morning - after a night of broken sleep - I check his face and eyes for signs of health and well-being. I am then grateful for another delightful morning. I get on with the day, writing included, and we traipse through another maze of happiness mixed with anguish.
Nothing in my life compares to the sadness I feel right now, or the gladness I experience when I realize I will be given another wonderful day with Foofer. Nothing – not the end of a marriage, the loss of material possessions or other life surprises – has any meaning when compared to Foofer and the unconditional love he has given to me for ten years and is still giving me.