Sunday we have to say goodbye to our dog, Sebby. Although he is a loving, friendly dog, he has become increasingly intolerant of the boys (Isaac in particular) and is lashing out at them for no apparent reason. We have found a good home for him, a single mom and her teenage daughter. Not only does he love women, but he is a protective dog and I know that he will enjoy “caring” for them. I know they will love him and I am telling myself that he will be happier in the end.
But it is still so gut-wrenching.
When I met Sebby, I didn’t like him very much. It is a distant memory to me now, but I found this short essay that I wrote about 4 years ago……
When I moved in with my husband, I brought with me a 12-year old dog and a 14-year old cat. I had adopted both of these animals when they were well into adulthood and they were already loving, calm pets. My pets and I had settled into a nice routine together. There was no jumping, clawing, or crazed running through the house—we loved to lie together on the couch and snuggle.
But my husband had a dog too….this dog was not yet a year old and the only trick he had somewhat mastered was going to the bathroom outside. Sebastian was adopted from an animal shelter where they told my husband, Jason he was a German shepherd/terrier mix. As he grew, he topped out at 30 lbs and settled into bachelorhood with Jason. They were both boys and it was okay to be wild and jump up on people and bite and run figure eights through the house for what seemed like hours at a time.
Upon moving in, my pets and I were shocked. I consider myself a lover of all animals, but this was going to be a challenge. Sebby’s favorite game consisted of running top speed towards my elderly dog with cataracts and rushing right into her face. As he raced through the house and around the furniture, she would stand in the middle of the floor with her tail on the floor and her ears down looking completely bewildered. It certainly didn’t help when she finally lay down in the floor and he began using her as a hurdle. And when he ate my favorite bra, I didn’t know how to hide my anger. I felt like I had finally met the one dog I could never love.
I don’t know how it happened that he is now one of the most precious things in my life. He slowly learned manners—or at least how to sit and how to go to his kennel. I used to have long, quiet talks with him on the couch asking him to please be more considerate to his siblings and eventually he started to somewhat respect them, but he still uses his sister as a hurdle every now and then. I realized that even though he can be wild sometimes, he can sense any sadness or pain in me and he will lay with me quietly for as long as I want.
He is also very protective of everybody in our family—including to our surprise his elderly sister. Once we took them both to doggie daycare and the attendant told us he spent the whole day standing between her and all of the other dogs. So I guess something finally came of our long, quiet talks on the couch.
And much to my relief, I am a lover of all animals again.
As I read this today, it was kind of funny because I had forgotten how hard it was to bond with this dog….this wild, crazy dog. For the first time in a long time, I remembered the times of holding him on the couch and talking to him calmly, trying to convince him not to be so crazy around my elderly pets.
Something about the essay felt so far off (me? not love Sebby? hard to believe) and yet so familiar.
Honestly, it almost completely mirrors my feelings in regard to Matthew joining our family. My fear of wondering if this will ever work. My feelings that it seems we are from different planets. Wondering if we will be able to coexist. Worrying about sibling relationships. Even down to the long talks on the couch. I know it probably sounds weird to compare my relationship with my son to my relationship with my dog. Other animal lovers will get it though.
The most important thing, though, is how my essay ended.
We learned to love each other.
He became one of the most precious things in my life.
We sleep at night with our foreheads touching.
And I can barely remember how hard our beginnings were.
What a wonderful lesson from a loyal companion. We adore you Sebby. You are so loved and you will be greatly missed.