There is a saying in baseball that August are the dog days. Teams have played their first 100 games and the hot summer months are upon them. Road trips that were enjoyable in April and May, now become a pain as the temperature in cities rise above 100 degrees. Some cities, like St. Louis, get so muggy a pitcher has to change his uniform top 4 and 5 times in a game.
However, this posting is not solely about baseball. It is another sad dog story. Faithful readers may remember the postings I made about watching my dog Skipper get hit by the fire chief’s truck while I stood in my front yard and later having to take my Golden Retriever to the vet to be put to sleep. Terrible days in my life.
Yesterday was another terrible day!
Two years ago my son, Jeff, went to the Animal Shelter and came back with a new puppy. He named her Jersey Girl. She was a Terrier mix and a cute little ball of black fur. At the time, he was staying at my moms but later came to live with me and Jersey Girl came along. As sons often do, they rely on the parent to feed and take care of the dog. This fact of life seems to not have any specific age related association. It is just one of those son/parent things that will happen regardless of age.
Eventually Jeff moved back to the San Diego area and Jersey Girl stayed behind with grandpa. Yep, by default I was now the care taker for the now long legged, totally grey-haired dog, a dog who was just 2 but looked 32. Jeff had taught her some basic “tricks,” like sit, lay down and stay. She was very behaved and did those things on command, most of the time.
As time evolved, Jersey somehow made her way to my bed to sleep at night. As a nightly ritual I would call her from her dog bed and she would come running and plop down on the bed. Each night we had to have a talk about her being on my side all night and forcing me to virtually sleep in a stationary space next to falling off the bed. She had decided the entire queen size bed was her new sleeping area.
On most days I am out of the house all day and there are many times when I am away for days at a time. I always felt Jersey needed a home where there were people around during the day, preferably kids included. That way she could be having human contact more often than when I got home, sometimes which was very late. Jeff’s situation did not include any way he could have Jersey Girl with him and we were both unable to find a friend to take Jersey. Once, Jeff took her off for a new home but the friend, who said he wanted Jersey, had forgotten to get his live-in girlfriends A-OK and Jersey came back the next day.
Now the sad part of this story.
Yesterday I decided it was time to take Jersey to find a new home. I had talked to Jeff and, with mixed emotions, we agreed it would be better for her. I called the Animal Shelter the day before to make sure she would stay until adopted. That was a must. They said absolutely and late yesterday afternoon, after we spent the day hanging around, I put Jersey in the car and we headed for the brand new, beautiful Animal Shelter.
We arrived to see hundreds of dogs in line to get free shots. There was a DJ playing tunes and lots of festivities, a carnival-like atmosphere. Jersey was, as usual, well mannered on the leash. We made our way to the area called “turn in.” We walked in, where there was a German Shelter sitting on the floor (he had been found in a man’s garage and was being brought in as a lost dog). We were 4th on the sign-in list so we walked back outside to take in the activities. Actually, I wanted to get out of the room where I knew my emotions would eventually get the best of me.
When our time came, we walked in and sat down. A very nice woman sat on the other side of the table and began the process to help us. The first thing she did was start saying how cute Jersey was. All the staff there came over to see her. Then she pulled up a photo on the computer of Jersey when she was adopted by Jeff. They all compared her puppy photo to now and they just loved her. While all this happened the tears began to well-up and then gravity took hold and they began to roll down my face. The Animal Shelter employee, seeing my breakdown, began to assure me it would be okay, that Jersey would find a home very quickly.
I managed to regroup, but only for a little while. The rest of the time there I was a basket case. I knew what was best and had to stick with it but it was so hard. I didn’t even see the employee who had come up to our side and had put his leash on Jersey. I knew it was about time, the time when I would have to get up and walk out of the door, leaving her behind. It kills me to even type this part but I knew that when I decided to share this story.
When it was time to get up and leave, I decided I would not look back for one last look. I just stared straight ahead and walked out the door, with tears just rushing down my face. I quickly put on my Oakley sunglasses and noticed a bench across the opening. I made my way there and sat down to regroup. I sent a text to Jeff, his mom and my sister. I had no one there to help ease the pain (mom had wanted to go but with her broken ankle, it would have been impossible to maneuver). As fate would have it, none of them were available so I did not get a text back immediately. I just sat there, emotionally drained.
After sitting for 30 minutes I got up and walked toward the car. I could not get in without a walk around the entire parking lot. I just wasn’t ready. When I did get in the car, I decided to drive through the local McDonald’s for a vanilla cone. Yes, a vanilla cone…I am an emotional eater and I needed an emotional treat. As I got off the ramp wouldn’t you know that a homeless woman was at the stop light holding a sign saying she was homeless and hungry. Nothing new right? Wrong. Next to her was a beautiful black Lab puppy, about 4 months old. You can guess what happened then, I lost it again.
I finally got to my mom’s house for my regular afternoon and evening visit to help her while she is still unable to get around on her broken ankle. I told her right away how hard it was and said we should just not talk about it. Well, mom doesn’t hear very well and pretty soon I could hear her crying and asking questions about Jersey. Gee mom, thanks a lot. We both sat there crying when Jeff’s mom replied to my earlier text. Then she called and was as emotional as we were. She loved Jersey too and, if she had a bigger yard, she would have taken her in a heart beat.
We all recovered and mom and I began to watch the Dodger game. Wouldn’t you just know that last night was the first ever Dodger Dog Days promotion. Fans were allowed to bring their dogs to the game, parade them on the field before the game and let them sit in the stands during the game. I found this to be cruel and unusual punishment. How could my Dodgers do this? Of course, they kept showing people holding up their dogs on screen.
I left mom’s at 11:30 and headed home. I had taped a movie earlier and began to watch it after having some “Jersey moments.” Wouldn’t you know there was a dog that played a pretty major part in the movie? Karma? It was the same feeling I had when, after burying Skipper in the back yard, mom and dad took me to see Old Yeller at the Drive-in.
There were more emotional moments but I finally got through the night and am here today to recall it all. I am fighting the urge to go see if Jersey is already at a new happy home. I know she will be a happier dog after she settles in a new home. If dogs have memories, she will have good memories. I also know this is the last time I am having any part of a dog, even though mom is already talking about wanting a new dog. She can’t take care of herself very well and will never be able to take care of a dog. If she gets a Chihuahua it will be easy to not get attached (Chihuahua’s are not really dogs but are over-sized rats).