It’s hard to explain to someone who isn’t a ‘pet person’ just what our companion animals mean to us. Never has this been truer than with my dog Lola.
The last 12 months have been the hardest of my life to date. My long term partner and fiance left me after 13 years together, I took redundancy from a good, stable job, I have moved to a new city, living alone for the first time in my life, and I have survived three hospital visits stemming from complications as the result of a kidney stone. Lola has been with me through all of it. There to nuzzle me when I have cried, to spoon in bed with me when I couldn’t sleep, to keep my depression at bay by getting me out of the house and to be my constant friend and companion.
She is a lovely little dog, stubborn to the last and loving to a fault. With no sense of personal space but not a mean, grumpy or vicious bone in her body. Just an adoring ball of floof with a keen nose for cooked meats!
It is with all of this in mind and heart that I have recently made one of the hardest decisions of my life; to rehome her with my exe’s mother. I am truly devastated and heartbroken in a profound way that I never knew was possible. It is why I am writing this post, to somehow try and come to terms with losing her and ultimately with letting her down.
I think I am also trying to cope with guilt I am feeling by justifying letting her go. I never wanted to be the kind of person who gets a dog without thinking about it, only to give them up when it gets too much. In truth, my exe and I got Lola together and waited years until we felt we were in a position to take on a dog. We researched the most suitable breed to get, the costs involved and read all the books we could get our hands on in preparation for her arrival. The plan was for me to take redundancy to focus on my PhD meaning I would be home with her most days, and my exe could work from home on days when I was in uni, but it didn’t quite pan out like that. Despite our best efforts to be responsible, I still feel like I have failed her.
I do know that it is for the best. I am due to start a new job in a couple of weeks and will be out of the house for 3.5 days a week, and with a desperate need to stay in and study on my days off. It would be no life for her at all. I have toyed with paying someone to come and walk her on the days when I am in work, but realistically she would be sitting at home alone all day waiting for a 30 minute walk before returning to an empty house, it just wouldn’t be fair. With my exe’s mum, she is now living with three other dogs, and spending her days running around in the fields and messing about up at the stables – a much better life than I can give her for sure. But it hurts.
The day after she left, I came home and no-one came bounding up to greet me. I keep going to open the stair gate before going upstairs to bed only to find it isn’t there any more. I feel very alone in the house, especially at night when every bump and creek which accompanies living in terraced housing, seems louder and more ominous than before.
A good friend has helped me find a cat to adopt and I am bringing her home tomorrow. I know that this will bring me some of the comfort and companionship that I am craving and hopefully my being home for part of the week means that my new feline friend will have a happy life of snuggles when I’m around and quiet time when I am not, but the guilt is really unbearable. I feel as though I am replacing Lola whilst her bed is still warm, that I am somehow ‘cheating’ on her or not properly ‘mourning’ her departure. All of this of course sounds so silly when I say it out loud, or type it into the ether, but I had always meant Lola to be for life, and I miss her terribly.
I will be ok, I am sure. I take comfort in the below picture that her new mummy has sent me of her folicking in the fields like a dog is supposed to. She loves everyone, and rationally I know that she is not capable of worrying that she did something wrong to make me get rid of her. Rationally I know that she will be a happy little pup with her new doggy friends and a much better life, but, for now at least, I am struggling to say goodbye to my special little friend who has seen me through the toughest of times.