I've decided to give Toby away.
Admittedly, it's a thought I'd been visiting and shoving aside for the better part of this year. Even though I was freelancing and had "more time" to dedicate to him, I didn't. I spent my days at home, but my nights were frequently spent running around the city with friends and a new boyfriend who made it clear from the get-go that he did not like dogs. I'd hoped he'd come around to Toby or that Toby would grow on him, but 10 months later it's still a sore spot with me.
Meanwhile, Toby has been growing more and more unruly due to his pent-up energy. After I was laid off, I thought my new schedule would be great for him. "Now he won't be home along during the day," I figured. Yeah, actually it made him more needy. More me meant more playtime - time that I'd rather spend zoning out in front of the computer or working on a story. Awful, I know, but it only gets worse. His barking increased, my patience lessened, my escapes became more frequent. And still I couldn't admit that I was neglecting my responsibilities in favor of my new free-wheeling life. So I rationalized: even though someone else had my nights, Toby still has me during the day. Thing is just your mere presence isn't enough for a dog. I knew that once a new job popped into my life, something had to change.
I've already cried about my decision several times. Now whenever I take him out through our usual path - past the two bus stops, into the park, onto the dry patchy grass he loves so much and along the tree-lined residential street - or even think about the situation, I choke up. I know I won't be able to walk that route without wishing he were still pulling me along, pouncing on every leaf with more exuberance than I could ever muster. "What are you always so damn excited about?" I silently wonder and it takes all he has to sit still for a moment, tail wagging furiously, and stare back at me as if to say, "Life, silly!"
As soon as I hung up with the girl who will take him on Thursday (and hopefully keep him), I fell onto A.'s bed in a heap of tears. Even though I know he'll be better off with someone who will give him the attention he deserves, a piece of me still wants to be selfish about it, still wants to keep him just so I can stop feeling this guilty. "Does this mean I'll be terrible parent??" I asked as if failing as a pet owner means failing at being human.
But at the end of the day, this is the solution. Is it ideal? Of course not, but I've questioned it so many times and made sure that this decision is mine and mine alone. I'd only grow to resent A. for it and though I'm reluctant to put it out there, you just never know where exactly a relationship might lead. As for those who've given me guilt trips over the situation, I guess it's easy to pipe in when they only see the little fur-ball every few months. I'd probably want him to stay too...if someone else had to care for him. I love the little monster so if that means I need to push my ego aside and admit that this is what's best for the both of us, then I just hope things work out just so.
Toby, thanks for pulling me out of 2008's sadness and through 2009's discoveries. This apartment is going to be much too quiet without you. Please be good.