Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Who You Leave Behind

Last year we adopted a little white mutt who looked so much like the street dogs we've encountered around the world that his nickname became the "stray from east LA." He even has his own song, set to the tune of Cheech Marin's "Born in East LA."

We didn't mean to take on another dog, but our neighbor asked us to take care of her dogs for a while, and in the meantime, we fell in love with this nutty little foster dog. He came to live at our house the same day that our beloved big Akita boy Ascha decide to leave this earth. We took it as sign that his gentle giant spirit was still with us. It was just too coincidental.

Tonight i bought a little soft-sided zippered kennel, perfect size for a little white street mutt to fit inside while he travels in the cabin of the airplane down south. Meanwhile, my beautiful, loyal, 13-year old Akita girl companion looks on.

This, friends, is sticking point one in trying to move your family out of the country. A little white mutt to whom you've so recently become attached gets an airline traveling case, while the big reddish mutt you've loved all these years gets a new home. Or should i say, just a foster home?

As we prepare to move our lives out of this country and to a warmer, sunnier one, we have so many loved ones we're leaving behind. Most of them though, we know we are going to see once again. My beautiful reddish mutt, on the other hand, i am not so sure. She's too big and too hairy to hack life in Central America, so what to do?

I've had her all these 13 years, her being born at my feet in the middle of the night, hours and hours after the rest of her litter was curled up, nursing in the torn up dog bed her mama had torn up for their arrival, just at the foot of our human bed. When we went to bed there were eight puppies; when we woke up there were nine, including a slimy little runt set right at the arch of my foot. I am a sucker for a sweet story, and so you know what happened next; she stayed with me forever.

If she were an elderly human i know she would say 'go, go, children -- don't stay on my account...' but i can hear in her relieved sighs when i return from a weekend away that she misses me beyond belief. It needs no words. It hurts.

Still, my daughter's education in the world will not wait, so i trust that she will be in good hands with beloved friends who love her and for whom she wags her tail when they come in the room. I hold onto that tail-wagging as proof that i'm doing the right thing, even when just looking at her threatens to choke me up and drown me with tears.

Dogs are our loves, our companions, our loyal friends when it seems we have not a friend left in the world. That's the reason we have them, in my opinion -- so i falter at choosing to give that up. But still, perhaps her love is as strong as mine.

The rest of our friends will be waiting for us when we return -- and i can only hope she will be waiting too...

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