This morning I got out of bed when I wanted. I sat and drank my coffee in peace. I finished my laundry, and know I can now sit down to write this post without interruption. And, I am utterly miserable.
Most people would consider my morning blissful. However, to me it’s incredibly painful. You see, for the past twenty-eight years I have been at the beck and call of my children and/or my dogs. My children have both been on their own for several years, so that left my dogs to keep me company while my Mr. was at work or traveling.
Two years ago we had to put down our “big dog”, Gretta, then there were the two of us—Becca and myself—spending virtually every moment of every day together. And now she is also gone.
One doesn’t realize the full impact a dog has on your life until they are gone. She and I rose on her schedule and thus started our daily routine. We would pad downstairs; I would turn on the coffee maker as she poked her head behind the curtains to see what the day looked like; I would slip on my shoes and throw a jacket over my pajamas before slipping her collar over her head. She would dance around, often barking with excitement, as we headed out the door. We took the same route 90% of the time, circling the landscaped island in our cul-de-sac. Upon return to the house, the cat was fed, I hit the button on the coffee maker and while my cup was brewing, I warmed up Becca’s homemade food and served her the first scoop (we split it up in two servings to make her feel she got extra). I would sit and drink my coffee, check email and talk to Becca. When she was done with her first serving, she would come nudge me with her nose to provide her the rest.
The day continued with us moving into my office—me at the computer, her under my desk in her bed. She allowed me to work about an hour before coming out from under and again nudging me with her nose—her sign to “get up and do what I want!” At this time, her want was a treat. I would give her a “chewy”, again broken into two servings, and slip upstairs for my shower as she ate her treat. For as long as she was able, she would then work her way up to the bathroom and wait on the floor mat in front of Mr.’s sink for me to finish dressing for the day. She seemed to pay attention to how I dressed, too. If I was putting on a dressier clothes, she knew I was going somewhere and she would look at me, sigh, then lay her head down. If I put on jeans or yoga/sweat pants, she knew I was in for the day and at least one walk was in her future. She would get up and wait at the top of the stairs for me to indicate what came next.
My phone calls, business activities–actually, my product idea and entire business–, household chores, cooking, and even errands were all scheduled and designed with her in mind. She had to go out at certain times (a senior dog can’t hold their bladder but so long!), she ate at a certain time, and she even had her preferred bedtime. Mr. and I could be watching a movie, but if it was her bedtime, she was insistent that we get up and move to our bed! Of course, we had the ability to deny her and tell her to lay down, but most times we were happy to make her content.
Becca loved to watch Dog With a Blog on Disney and would let us know she wanted to watch it by going to the television, barking, then looking at us and back at the tv. She would continue until we put it on for her—which often happened even if we were watching something we wanted to watch! Once she saw Stan, all was right in her world.
If I was doing a project, Becca was either underfoot or laying nearby; if I ran errands, she rode along; if I went to take care of a neighbor’s cats, she joined me; if I went to visit my kids, she went too. We carpeted our staircase to make it easier for her to traverse, we added a gate to our deck so she could have outdoor time without supervision, and we bought anything we thought she might want—toys, snacks, movies. Despite dropping a bundle to buy a new mattress for better sleep, my husband continued to have many sleepless nights because Becca hogged the bed and he wouldn’t disrupt her sleep by moving her.
She and her beloved walks were the impetus for creating a new product and building a business from it. She was my inspiration, my motivation, and my spokesdog.
Everywhere I look and everything I do, I realize how Becca touched daily life. Did this dog rule our lives? You may think so, but the truth is she ruled our hearts and we chose to adapt to her wants and needs.
Now she is gone and I don’t know how to get through my day. Her routines became the rhythm of my life and I miss it so. It’s like trying to march without a drumbeat—I am all discombobulated.
I know, in time, new patterns will develop and I will learn to be alone for much of my day (of course, there is the cat, but he has no time for me). I will fill the empty space with activities, but how will I fill the empty hole in my heart?
For now, I just keep stuffing it full of memories and know it will eventually heal.
RIP my precious fur baby. I cannot thank you enough for the beauty, love, fun, inspiration, acceptance and laughter you brought to my life.
The Yellow Kite