I made the tough decision of giving my dog Toby away. The time, stress, and costs of being a dog owner were proving to be more than I could handle at the time and I felt guilty that I wasn't providing him with the attention and care he needed. So in early November 2010, I gave him to a cousin of a friend convincing myself that it was for the best despite how torn I felt about the whole thing. I cried for days, heard his tags still jingling around the house long after he'd left, and up until recently, kept finding his fur clinging the corners of my home. After several attempts to reach out to his new owner for updates and photos were met with silence, I figured she was busy with three dogs and a personal health issue of her own and simply tried to get on with life.
Fast forward to last Wednesday when a phone call wakes me up alerting me that Toby was found wandering the streets of Brooklyn with my tags still on his collar. Cue the anxiety, the stress, and most of all questions. Where's the owner? Is she frantically looking for him? How'd he get to Brooklyn if I'd sent him an hour north of the city? Luckily, the family who took him in was a kind one who kept me in the loop, but there were children involved and I was worried they'd get attached to him before I could bring him home.
Come to find out - 12 hours later, by the way - that the woman had given him to her brother-in-law who lives in BK, but he'd yet to respond to her queries about the missing dog. She kept mentioning how confused she was over the situation while I kept it short and stern and asked why my information was still on the dog two years after I gave him away. Would he be tagless had it not been for the ones I'd left on his collar? Something just didn't sit right and while I still didn't have all the pieces to the story, I knew I had to go pick Toby up and bring him back.
I was so stressed I barely slept or ate the night before. Thursday morning I was still a nervous wreck. Will he remember me? Is he still the excitable, yappy little dog that barked day and night? Where will he live? Will the other owners fight for him? And for some reason I worried most about his nails. That night I dreamt they grew so long they curled under his paw and pierced him right through. When I arrived at that front door Thursday afternoon, I was upset to discover that my fear came partly true. Not only had Toby gained so much weight, but some of his nails curled around and around and had embedded into his paw making it a struggle to walk just a few feet. How he'd manage to travel five miles when he can barely make it down the block now is beyond me, but no wonder he's so pooped these days.
Still, after the initial shock over his transformation, I was thrilled to have him back in my arms. He even gifted me with a new fur coat on the drive back. And I know the chunker remembers his family. He licked my face as soon as he saw me, still follows me around the house, and cries if I leave him behind. We certainly never forgot him all this time.
"I'm sorry," I whispered as he looked up at me on the car ride home, panting and trembling just as he did the day I placed him in the back seat of his new owner's car.
I'm sorry for whatever promises weren't fulfilled and any hardships you have endured - including the possibility of having contracted Lyme disease. I'm sorry I didn't suss out these new people before handing you over or that I didn't go with my gut when I worried about you. But I'm also sorry that I still don't know if I can be your forever home because it's going to suck to give you away a second time around.