Before moving to Colorado, I have owned a total three small dogs, two of which lived with me for the past eight years. Jennifer kept both Trigger and Mickey in the divorce. It left a huge hole in my heart, compounding the pain of going through such a rough season.
While on a trip to Denver, I met a homeless person with a pit bull. I figured if a homeless person can do it, then I can do it. I pushed all my worries and concerns away (including my declining health and fear of the inevitable hospitalization), and decided to go to the shelter and pick out a puppy.
I found Lucy. She was an extremely cute female chihuahua mutt. All my dogs have been chihuahuas, but all have been males. I thought it would be nice to have a female in my life. When I approached her cage, she was sitting on her tail, but managed to wag it excitedly. My first adopted dog, Trigger, did the exact same thing. It was in that moment that I knew I wanted to know more about her and hold her. They told me she was a transfer from Texas, and that her projected birthday was April 17th, 2015, which was Jennifer and I’s legal sixth wedding anniversary. I thought it would be nice to have a reason to celebrate the day rather than be consumed with sorrow.
When they brought her to me, she sat in my arms and just shook and shook. It was so cute that I had to have her. I knew that she would open up to me as time when on. Once we did the paperwork and I paid the Humane Society, I put her in my truck and we headed home. She was in the front passenger seat, and she let out all sorts of cute noises and licked my hand and arm as I petted her. She even tried to come over to my side of the car several times and lick my face while I was driving. I had to tell her, “No, Lucy. Stay on your side, girl.” It was super cute.
The first couple of days went fairly well. Once I first brought her home, she stood in one spot near the door, looking at me, and wagging her tail. That’s all she did for the first several hours. In time, she learned to use the stairs, jump on the sofa, and even jumped on the bed. I am home most of the day, so I was able to take her out every 2-3 hours, or after a mess. This was no big deal when it was nice outside, but then on Saturday April 29th, the snow came. After taking her out in the snow, sometimes for 20-30 minutes before she would go potty, I became ill with a sore throat, fever, and head cold.
The next few days were miserable. She managed to eat a pair of sandals and some electrical equipment, and we had several more accidents. For instance, on Tuesday, I woke up in the morning to her kisses. She had not developed a signal for going out, yet. This created a situation where I had to watch her constantly. First thing in the morning and last thing before bed were easy, though. I knew that if she was giving kisses first thing in the morning, then she was awake and needed to go outside. Once outside, I realized that it was raining and it was very cold, and I was still sick. We were outside for 30 minutes and she wouldn’t go potty. I eventually brought her back in. I was soaked, tired, hungry, and I had to use the restroom. Within 5 minutes, she pottied on the floor.
I was running a fever, going out in the rain, tracking in mud, and staying out for long periods of time, and it felt like it was all for nothing. I started to resent Lucy, which was sad, because when she wasn’t being a total butthead and eating my stuff she was super cute. She frequently jumped on my jeans like in the picture, sometimes getting me muddy, and she would follow me into whatever room I was going into. In my office, she would sleep next to me as I would check out social media or handle paperwork for my divorce and whatnot. As I would migrate between rooms or down the hallway, she would run in front of me excitedly, looking back to make sure she was still close. While I would brush my teeth or bath, she would come and check on me, and lay down on the floor within a few feet of me. She was by far the most affectionate puppy I have ever had.
I took her to the vet to see if there was a medical condition that was causing these soiling problems. The vet gave her a clean bill of health and told me that it could take months before she is potty trained. All my previous dogs didn’t take months, and they only soiled inside if I was gone for an extended period of time. I became overwhelmed at the idea of continuing to go outside several times a day into the elements, tracking in dirt/mud, and risking continuing to get sick, all while she may just poop on the floor anyway. I thought because I got an older dog that she would pick up on potty training quicker. The vet said the opposite. She has had two years of not being potty trained, so she would be extra stubborn. I considered potty pads, but I didn’t want to continue to clean up her poop and pee. I just wanted her to get to the point where she would go outside, use the restroom, and come back in, but I didn’t have the patience to wait months for this to happen. I was hoping for weeks.
It was at this point that I decided to take her back to the shelter. It was a very tough decision. Once we finished the paperwork, they asked, “Would you like to say goodbye?” To which I responded, “Yes.” I held her, kissed her, let her kiss me back, and I started crying. I wish she was better behaved, and I wish that I had the health and patience to stick with her for months while she potty trained, but I didn’t. She brought some joy and companionship to my life, and now I was letting her go.
The Humane Society worker assured me that they would take good care of her and find her a new home. I told Lucy, ‘They are going to find a better home for you. Be good for them.” Eyes full of tears, I walked out of the shelter, got in my truck, and headed back for my apartment. I rounded up all her toys, dog bowls, and other things, and placed them in her cupboard in the kitchen, where these items still remain.
I have considered going back for her, because I miss her so. Even as I write this, my heart is filled with pain, and my eyes with tears. I love dogs, and I love Lucy. This year has been the hardest year of my life. I have felt loneliness, abandon, regret, and fear on levels that I never thought possible. Lucy helped with my schizophrenia, just as Trigger did 9 years earlier. I had a friend, but I couldn’t take care of her. Once again, I felt like a failure.
I hope she has found a new home, with a family that can take better care of her. I hope she doesn’t take months to learn how to potty train, and I hope that she is in a house, or in an apartment where this is more grass than dirt. I hope she is happy. Saying goodbye to an animal that I adore was not easy. Doing it three puppies in the span of three months, makes me empty. I have had small dogs most of my life, and I am sure that I will revisit the idea in the future. Perhaps once I settle into a home again, I could adopt, and have the ability and the resources to properly take care of it. Until then, I will deal with the deafening loneliness, and brave the times when my schizophrenia is acting up. It’s not what I prefer, but I fear that it’s what I am supposed to do for this stage of my life.
Wagen, over and out.