'd been avoiding writing this post only because 12 days later it still hurts to think about. It happened quickly with no real time to process what I was about to do. She called to say she was in the area and within 30 minutes, he was gone.
I felt myself beginning to detach days before in the hopes of making the separation easier, but the thought of giving him away still pained me and when she called, I just slipped into autopilot. I grabbed his things, swooped him into my arms and placed him in his carrier. When he started shivering once we reached the sidewalk, I placed a hand on the bag's side and softly whispered, "Ish okay, ish okay..." I wondered if it was the afternoon chill or if he felt as anxious as I did.
We ran through the initial pleasantries, if he had his shots, why I could no longer keep him, her two other dogs and the woodsy area she lived in. I let Toby pop his head out of the carrier one last time and pet his head, wisps of hair flying in the wind and clinging to my coat. "He likes to bark a lot," I reminded her, "but just give him lots of attention, tire him out and he'll be good. He's a good dog." The last line wasn't for her; a part of me wished he could understand that. After she cooed over how adorable he is, I tucked his head back inside and zipped him up.
I practically sped away because I couldn't watch them drive off. I just placed him in the back seat and left with my camera still in my coat pocket. No final pictures, no goodbyes, no I love you. I forgot to tell her how much he loves it when you fill his treat toy with peanut butter or that even though his front left leg is a bit twisted, he runs around just fine. I didn't ask her to break up his bigger treats into tiny pieces because otherwise he'll swallow it all in one gulp without chewing like a little beast. I forgot to ask her not to put him in those stupid dog clothes.
The tears starting coming as I climbed the stairs and by the time I reached my apartment, I knew I was going to lose the fight. I locked the door behind me and just ripped the band-aid off. I cried and im'ed, sobbed and chatted. It felt as if I'd just committed the biggest mistake of my life and all I wanted was for someone to make it go away. Toby had only been gone a few minutes and already I wondered if he was okay, if he was scared, confused. See, it was one thing to know that this was for the best and another to actually feel it. Sad thing was, whenever I was upset about anything, I'd grab him and go out for a long stroll. Now what?
Without him, I turned to monotonous chores, repetitive mundane tasks and talking with friends who understood what I was going through. Those emotions have since waned only somewhat, but the little furball still pops into my dreams (I swear he'd better not be wearing dog clothes), his hair will be swept up from these corners long after I've moved and sometimes, when it's eerily quiet in my apartment, my ears will play tricks on me and hear his tags still jingling across the floor.
Image: Daily Drop Cap by Jessica Hische