What was supposed to be a glorious start to 2016 has quickly spiraled into an bitter gumbo of painful emotions ranging from guilt to fear to compassion to regret to sorrow and round and round the coil of pain turns. All over a dog.
Yes a dog. Not just any dog, but a sweet, equal parts energetic and happy-to-chill at your feet rescue dog. Her Facebook photos, a short video clip, and one or two phone conversations with her handlers convinced me she would fit beautifully into our home.
She didn’t. And through no fault of her own.
My heart got ahead of my head
In most cases – and I truly believe this – it’s better to put your heart ahead of your head. But in this case the consequences proved disastrous. By not considering all the potential (ok, probable) variables of bringing a dog into our home I broke a few hearts. Starting with mine:
- Will she peacefully cohabitate with my cat?
- Will I have the time and resources to train her?
- Do I know enough about her background?
- Is our urban environment the best fit for this dog?
If I’d listened to my head, the answer would have been a resounding NO on all counts. Alas, my heart got ahead of me, and we drove three hours to retrieve her. The immersion process did not go well, and it is largely because I did not consider the above. After tearful discussion over what was best for this dog, my husband and I chose to surrender her back to the rescue.
Now Shannon. What have we learned?
About this time last year, I lost my stepfather, who raised me and helped instill a core value of taking accountability for all my mistakes. “Don’t let yourself off the hook until you’ve learned and grown from this, Shannon,” he used to say. Since his passing, he frequently appears in my consciousness as a loving compass directing me back toward the right path forward through life. His spirit was there at the ready as my tears refused to dry and the path forward filled with a dense fog of sadness. To be honest, I don’t know what the lessons here are yet, other than I f***ed up on this decision, and there’s pain to go around that extends beyond me…to the dog, her rescuers, to those I shared this happy story with, to my husband who despite all efforts can’t console me right now.
Much as I did not want to share this story of woe, perhaps it can serve as a lesson for others.