Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Puppy Love... and Loss

Two weeks ago I took a big step and went to an "intake" appointment to begin to get myself some help for my growing anxiety and depression issues. It was very hard for me. One of the major problems for me is talking to people about my anxiety just increases my anxiety because my issues are becoming more and more  social. Apparently  I used up all my "faking it" to pretend I was ok on the Indiana trip. It was like as soon as I held it all together for that, I just let the basket slip the rest of the way out of my hands. I am becoming paralyzed by any little situation that might have the slightest bit of discomfort or confrontation for me. Thank Goddess for Blogger because it is that degree of separation to talk about things.

One of the the things we discussed for my plan was to start training my dog Harlow to be my Service/Comfort animal. We were going to get that ball rolling the beginning of November, and I went home and began to work on reminding Harlow of  the training he already had so he would be ready to go through the "official" training.

That was on a Friday.

On Sunday, Jilly went to take Harlow outside to potty, as she has 100 times over the past year and a half, and he bit her. She didn't startle him, she wasn't rough, she didn't do anything to warrant it. She was raised around dogs and knows how to act around them. I saw the whole incident  and I have no idea what happened or why.

 He didn't break the skin, she inherited her mother's reflexes I guess. I can't tell you how many potentially serious bites I have avoided over my years working with dogs. The problem was, he didn't snap at her...he attacked her. He barked, snarled, and knocked her down to go after her. She saved herself from the first bite, me pulling him off her saved her from whatever he was planning to do.

I knew immediately we would have to find Harlow a new home. I love that dog, I can't say how much, but he is a large Standard Poodle and I am shaking right now thinking how much he could have hurt either of my girls. When The Hubs came home, I told him what happened and gave him a list of rescue/foster groups he could call the next day. 

I shut down. I was barely functional before, and this had me in a constant state of panic. The Hubs worked his ass off with a local rescue group and arranged for his new owners, a retired couple with no children, to come pick him up on Thursday of last week. In that time, we were both watching Craigslist pretty closely for a new dog. We both agreed that we had to get me a dog for both my anguish at having to give away Harlow, but also to continue with the plans to get the Comfort dog program.

We found an ad form a man who needed a home for his 7 month old Australian Shepherd because his plans to move from an apartment to a house fell through and he felt he was not giving him what he deserved cooped up in an apartment alone all day.When he and The Hubs talked on the phone, he said he had already turned down 4 people, and he would have to come meet us first. Here was a guy who loved his dog, but could not keep him and was taking every effort to make sure he got the right home.  Exactly what we were trying to do.

He came over on Wednesday, spent 2 hours with us so we could all get to know each other and make sure: a) We liked the dog and he liked us
b) He was good with the girls, who he allowed to climb all over him and take his chew toys right out of his mouth
c) He got along with Bruno, our Toy Poodle, who is a little bully
d) His former owner was comfortable that we were the right people for him
We all decided it seemed like a good fit, and so with many tears, he left the Aussie, who we decided to name Malcolm, with us. We promised to keep him posted by email on how Mal was doing from time to time.

The next day, Harlow's new owners came to get him, with a similar degree of care that dog and humans were a good fit. I am ashamed to say I was absent from this process. I took Mal for a walk up Miller Canyon. I knew I was doing the responsible, adult thing by giving Harlow a chance at a home where he would not have to be kept segregated from the family for fear he would hurt the kids, but I was not in a head space to face it.

So for the last week I have been throwing myself into caring for and training Mal so he will be ready for his certification, and to give myself something positive to focus on. I think the only reason giving Harlow away did not put me in the hospital was because Mal was already here. He has already helped me so much. I have had a few panic attacks this week and he always comes right over to me, wanting me to pet him or play fetch with his toy. He already knows his job. Mom is upset, I need to make her happy.

Hopefully everything I have had to let go of in the past few months will have this same theme. Letting go of things that you love deeply, is killing you to lose, and you had wanted for years is horribly painful, but sometimes you have to let go so the next good thing can come.

I hope Harlow feels the same. I hope as much as he loves me he found a better, forever home and people who love him as much as I do.

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