Tag Archives: Bittersweet

Day 11: Setback or Breakthrough

I struggled with whether or not I wanted to go to church. I sat on my bed to work on character profiles. I looked at the clock and decided that I could work on the profiles during the preliminaries. So, I changed clothes, grabbed my Bible, my notebook, a snack and went to church.

Everything went well. I was feeling pretty good. The pastor gave a really good sermon and the closing song was a favorite of mine. I felt it though. I felt it coming. My panic attacks start with a simple restlessness and my hand starts shaking. I had already eaten so it wasn’t my blood sugar.

They started the song and I had to jump up and leave. I sat outside and cried. I became angry. I was so calm and content prior to the panic attack. This happens prior to all of my panic attacks and it makes me so mad. Why couldn’t they happen on a bad day? Why do they have to interrupt me when I’m actually enjoying myself?

My stuff was still in the church so I had to face people. I would have made it had one of the ladies not stopped me and asked me how I was doing. I burst into tears.

I hate crying in front of people. I hate being perceived at weak. I know people don’t perceive me that way; that’s just how I feel. I feel vulnerable, like people are going to see me as easy prey. I just couldn’t stop the tears.

I talk to two ladies. They hugged me and prayed with me. I cried so much. I talked more than I usually do, explaining away my panic attack or trying to make light of it. The tears wouldn’t stop.

I thought it was a setback, but the ladies told me there is nothing wrong with crying in front of people. I wanted to believe them.

I talked with them for little while longer and then we said our goodbyes and we left. On my short–very short–trip back home, I realized that maybe, just maybe, crying in front of people, letting people see my vulnerability, was maybe a breakthrough. I had lowered my defenses and let people see who I really am. I like to believe that I’m strong, but I’m not really. I’m a survivor though. I’m a fighter. I don’t let these things keep me down, but when they do happen it takes awhile for me to feel like me again.

Fortunately, I had six dogs waiting for me. Also, a good friend of mine came into town and he let me ramble on and on. We took Buddy for a walk and I talked to people, allowing them to pet Buddy. He really likes kids. It was wonderful and I started feeling like I have a bright future ahead of me.

I know that these panic attacks will still happen from time to time, but I’m blessed. I have a strong support system and the best dogs ever.

Ultimately, this was a good day despite the panic attack.

For those of you who are struggling with some battle, I want you to know that you’re not alone. Even if you don’t have a physical support system, know that I’m here.

Until next time, make sure you show appreciation to your support system, even if it is just your dogs.

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A Sad Confession of a Self-Professed Dog Lover Part 2

I contacted as many people as I could to help me find her a home. I knew shelter volunteers. I networked, but I never got any answers except for being told that their main goal was finding homes for dogs in the shelter finding new homes for dogs whose owners could no longer keep them. I tried. I really did. I sent an email to a lady who would contact all of her dog loving friends. I told the truth about Sasha, unfortunately the truth was what kept her from getting a new home—no one wanted a car chaser. She was a liability.

I thought Sasha had time. So I tried to wait patiently, holding off on taking her to the shelter. Hoping that someone would contact me.

By that time I had given up on trying to keep Sasha in the backyard. She came and went, usually hanging out on the sunny side of the house. Sometimes I rode my bike and she’d lope beside me. I finally had that dog that I wanted. The dog that would stay beside me even though she wasn’t on a leash.

Then that night happened. Sasha didn’t come home. She always came home. I called her. I think I even walked a couple blocks looking for her. Only, Sasha was a mostly grey dog so she was invisible until she was right in front of you. I realized that she’d been hit and she wasn’t coming back. I felt guilty. I felt relieved. I felt angry about being relieved. I hadn’t done enough! People had let me down! All I wanted was my dog to be safe to be who she was.

The next was a Monday…some holiday. Maybe Labor Day or Memorial Day or some other holiday where everything shuts down. Sasha came home. It was bittersweet. I was so glad to see her, but I realized what had happened and why she hadn’t come home. Sasha had gotten hit; her back legs could barely support her weight.

I led her inside the fence. What she did next made me realize I could no longer keep my dog.

She climbed the fence. Even with her back legs injured, she climbed the fence and just laid there by the house too tired to move.

Sasha’s time had run out. Mother and I took her to the shelter the next day. It is important to note that this shelter was half an hour from our house.

I couldn’t take her in, so I sent Mother to take her in. Unfortunately, because I knew Sasha better than Mother did, I had to go in and fill out all of the paper work. Sasha was in a holding pen. She looked at me, wondering what was going on. I wanted to say forget it and take her home, but I knew that Sasha’s luck would eventually run out and someone would knock on my door, telling me that my dog had come out of nowhere and they’d hit and killed her. Or worse, I’d return home and find her lying on the side of the road.

The form asked about commands she knew and any behavioral problems. I wanted to lie about the behavioral problems. I wanted her to look good on the forms. I knew no one would want a dog that jumped/climbed fences or chased cars. I told the truth, though and handed the clipboard back.

Behind us, a family looking to adopt a dog noticed Sasha and commented on how she looked familiar and that she had to be their friend’s dog. I wanted to tell them that she was my dog, but I couldn’t say anything. Let them think that it was their friend’s dog.

She knew we were leaving her. The bark I heard as we left was a bark I had never heard her make before. It will haunt me forever. I tried not to cry and even now as I write this I try not to cry.

That was the last time I saw Sasha…or at least the last confirmed sighting of her.

A few weeks later, as I was driving across town, I saw a dog that looked identical to Sasha. The dog was healthy and obviously had gotten out of its backyard. I didn’t notice if it was a male or female, but I’m sure I would have known if it was a male. Part of me said that it was probably one of Sasha’s siblings (she had a couple that I knew of). Another part of me knew it was my Sasha. She had gotten adopted and was up to her old tricks again. It surprised me because how did she end back up in my little town when she was in a shelter half an hour away? I don’t know. I will never know for sure if that was Sasha or not, but I believe it was.

A year or so later I was living in Moore with my husband and Mother called me up to tell me that a dog that looked just like Sasha was in our neighborhood, on our street, near our house. Mother could neither confirm nor deny whether it was Sasha, but I think she said the dog was dragging a chain. That had to be Sasha all right, still up to her old tricks.

Though I will never know for sure if either dog was Sasha or if it was merely a doppelganger(s), I believe in my heart that it was Sasha both times. Maybe when she came to our neighborhood she was looking for me, or seeing if anything changed, or looking for old friends. Maybe she was just roaming. Who knows?

We haven’t seen that dog since, but I don’t think we were supposed to. Though I don’t worry about her, I do miss that dopey dog from time to time. She taught me a lot about patience, love, fear, worry, frustration, guilt, and how sheer willpower (stubbornness) can make a person/dog do some of the most awe inspiring or dumbest things.

Well my confession is over.

Until next time, just because you see some dog else doing it doesn’t mean you should. That is unless the other dog has learned how to open the treat container or better yet the refrigerator. Then you’re allowed to watch and repeat.


A Sad Confession of a Self-Professed Dog Lover Part 1

This is the first part of the story behind having to give up one of my dogs.

I may have told this story before, but if I haven’t I have a confession to make. I once surrendered a beloved pet to the shelter. Her name was Sasha.

Sasha was a goofy Australian Cattle Dog/Blue Tick Coonhound mix. I used to joke that she didn’t know whether to herd things or to hunt them. I joked about it, but it was the truth. She was a confused dog. So confused that I’d say that dogs of different breed classes should never interbreed because their offspring are off in the head.

For about eighteen months, she was a decent dog when on the leash, in the backyard, or in the house. Off leash was a different story. Due to her breeds, she liked to chase things and it didn’t matter what it was. When she was only four or five months old, she took off after a car and ran head first into the car. The owner, thinking that she’d hit my dog, mouthed “I’m sorry.” I think I said the dog was okay, so the driver kept going and so did my puppy. I chased her down the street and finally caught her. She was unharmed, but that dashed my dreams of her ever learning to walk off leash.

As Sasha got older, her hunting instincts went into overdrive. She had a far off look in her eyes, like there were other places she wanted to be. There was once that she was so off in lala land that she completely ignored the fact that I held her breakfast in front of her nose. When I called her several times, she blinked and looked at me like, “Oh, I didn’t see you there. How long have you been standing there? Oh…it’s breakfast. I guess I’ll eat.”

On walks, her nose led the way and no amount of Cesar Milan, Positive Training, or whatever kind of training there was helped curb this. However, I did manage to teach her to sit when cars passed by. She got to the point that she’d sit patiently and watch the car go by and not try to chase it. That is as long as I didn’t tense up and freak out. So I guess I can’t be too hard on her.

I loved that dog. Then the Lab came to live with us. His name is Cody. I know for sure that dog is still alive although he’d one of the few dogs that I’ve ever met that I’ve felt pure hatred for. Cody was a big baby, wasn’t well trained, had sever separation anxiety and knew how to climb fences (he was too fat to jump them).

You probably can guess where this story is going.

Though dopey, Sasha picked up on things. Sometimes she had to learn the hard way. Learning to climb the fence was as easy as watch and mimic.

It didn’t take long for my car chaser to learn how to climb our back fence. Nothing stopped her, not an electric fence—she’d push through the pain. Not a tie-out—she somehow learned out to get out of her collar no matter how tight it was (I think she used the top of the fence to pull off the collar), not standing outside and telling her off every time she touched the fence (a person can only stand outside for a certain amount of time). Nothing we could do stopped her.

I worried about animal control taking her. Only, animal control in the small town I lived in only picked up strays. If there was a known owner, they wouldn’t pick it up. So that left the fear that I was going to come home and find my dog dead on the side of the road.

We lived on a busy highway with vehicles (specifically semis) passing our house at 40 or 50 mph depending on whether they were coming into town or leaving town.Sasha chased them all; ran out into the road and chased them. When I saw this I didn’t know whether to scream, run toward her, or close my eyes so I didn’t have to watch my dog get killed.

Apparently dogs have angels because Sasha was never fatally hit. Keyword fatally. I know for sure she was hit once, but I think she had been hit multiple times. The first time she was hit must have been minor because after that incident she never ran into the street chasing the cars, but ran along the yards beside the highway. Something had changed her mind.


A Bittersweet Phone Call

I received a phone call from a really good male friend of  mine. He and I go way back. I had just joined the Native American Student Association (NASA) at my new University. I was thrilled that I was finally at a school with a Native population; people I could identify with. Though I only have a few drops of Native blood, I’ve always found them to be accepting people. I never felt comfortable among the Black or Caucasian ethnic groups even though my genetic make-up is more of these two.

When I walked into the room my eyes fell on a bronze man with long, jet black hair, high cheekbones, and a wonderful smile. I was instantly drawn to him, but I admired him from afar. Later on in the semester we developed a friendship and even flirted a bit. I was a Sophomore English major and he was getting his Master’s in English. We were both writers. We just clicked.

He and I never really hung out together outside of school. Sometimes we’d chat online. He let me read some of his stories; I’d let him read some of mine. At that time that was the extent of our relationship as he was engaged–on and off.

We lost touch with each other and then we’d get back in touch. Sometimes we would talk to each other for a couple weeks, a couple months, or even a year. I dated. He moved back to the area. When I was having relationship problems I’d call him. Once when I could get in touch with my then-boyfriend, I talked with my friend the entire weekend. He invited me to come spend some time with him. “Things might happen though…” he warned me. Loyal to my boyfriend, I laughed off his offer.

Then my boyfriend broke up with me and I went running to my friend. He comforted me and I comforted him. I stayed the night at his house once. His daughter was home; she didn’t know I was there. She had a nightmare and ran into the bedroom, jumping on me. He quickly shielded me so she wouldn’t know I was there.

We talked after that; we lost touch; we’d get back in touch; lose touch again. I moved. I dated. I fended off my ex. Perhaps I dated to get away from my ex. But my friend was always on the forefront of my mind. I loved him. I told him a couple times that I loved him. He was flattered.

I broke up with my ex and met another guy–my now fiance. At the beginning my now-fiance and I had a no strings attached relationship. We kept each other company on cold nights and warm nights alike. We’d be there for each other.

I loved him, but I still thought about my friend. When he’d come to town I’d be overjoyed to see him, but he never hung around long. I found other male friends. All liked me; I liked all of them, but we never stayed in touch.

I contemplated getting back together with my first boyfriend. I cried to my now fiance. I called my friend and asked him what I needed to do. He gave me advice; I knew he was right.

He promised me that we’d go on a date. A couple times he promised me that we’d get together. He always cancelled. My heart always fell. I realized that even though I cared for him and I knew he cared for me that the two of us would never be together.

My now-fiance broke things off with me to be with what he thought was his soul mate. By that time I realized that I was supposed to be with him and I was thrilled when he called me and said that things didn’t work out. He and I got together and now we’re getting married.

My friend wanted to know if getting married was what I wanted to do. I told him this was definitely what I wanted to do. Though he told me he was happy for me, I could hear the sadness in his voice. It broke my heart. It didn’t break my heart because I regret not getting together with him; I am very happy with my fiance. It broke my heart because well…I can’t place why. It isn’t something that I can put words to.

The best way of describing it is it was like talking to a dying friend. The friend knows he is dying and was calling to talk to you one last time. It is so final. It is over. You’re never going to hear his voice again.

I don’t know if any of this makes any sense. It’s still kind of raw, but I wanted to get it down while the emotions were still there because I feel that this is honesty. Later will be after I’ve thought about it; analyzed it; made it “pretty”. So forgive me if this doesn’t make any sense to you.

Until next time…