Learned a tough lesson today.
We've been considering getting a dog for several months now. We've had a few serious attempts. But today, we found a very well suited dog for us. Small, laid back, playful at time but mostly just wants cuddles.
And when it was time to make the decision and make the commitment - I couldn't do it.
It tore me apart to finally realize what my problem has been.
I haven't really mourned or healed from losing my Sassy. Even after 2 years.
If you aren't an animal person, this might not make sense to you. Heck, I am an animal person and this has totally surprised me.
We picked this 6 year old little chihuahua mix named Bandit. He is an amazing little dog and would be a great fit for our family. This was the perfect logistical time- a long holiday weekend to spend a lot of time at home with him as he adjusts to us.
We were ready to do it. We were going to hit the bank for cash for his adoption fee and then the pet store for basic supplies. And something clutched my heart, tightly, and wouldn't let go.
And I was frustrated because I couldn't place the feeling. I didn't know where this anxiety was coming from.
It hit me.
I'm afraid to love another dog because I know I will face his death. And I miss Sassy. More than I've admitted to myself. And I just can't open my heart right now. Not until I really can let her go.
Sassy was my first dog. I got her in late 1998, she was 8 weeks old. She went through my first marriage, my divorce, my remarriage, the births of our babies, the sadness of our miscarriage, multiple moves. She was my baby for 16 years. And she still owns my heart.
She was small and had a little bit of a fiesty streak to her - just enough sassiness to let you know when she wasn't happy. She won the heart of any person who met her. People afraid of dogs weren't afraid of her. She could sense if someone had pain - she would have been a great therapy dog.
And not having her - and now realizing how much I miss her and loved her and never really grieved when she passed - I am feeling this hole in my heart and it is painful.
I'm crying big sad tears a lot today. I feel like a failure as a mom because I set my kids up for the excitement of finally having a dog.
But realizing that I've locked away this sadness... is making me realize that I've had a lot of stuff locked away. I've put up some serious walls around my heart. And I need to pull them down and feel stuff in big ways like I used to.
Here's the amazing thing about this hard and sad day.
There is love and compassion and support streaming from my kids. Teagan has cried. She is heart broken and disappointed. But more than that, she is feeling my sadness and I am feeling hers. I hate that this is hurting her and I am determined that I will fix it.
Teagan has been so brave and loving and tender. To me. It's been incredible. She has every reason to be mad at me, to stomp and get angry and pitch a fit. But instead, we are holding hands and hugging and staying close.
Zach has been sad. But he has also brought his sense of humor in at appropriate times to bring joy and laughter to our tears.
Jeff has been my rock. He has been the voice of reason - even if, like me, he didn't know what the reason was.
Our time for a pet will come. But for now, we have each other and we are proving how strong we are, what love really means, and realizing our priorities.
I'm broken and need to fix it. And I am blessed with a family that will help me and will fill me and will love me through this.
I also have to give props to Heaven After Hell Rescue. Amazing volunteers that we really connected with and who helped us through the process. And staff who understood when we came in with tears and broken hearts. We made a cash donation to support their work. They understood and will hold on to our application and suggested maybe being foster parents when the time comes. If you feel so inclined, you can make a donation to support their work.