A year ago a period of loss and challenge entered into our lives; in April we lost our beloved cat Kasey to cancer with very little warning and I had a hysterectomy. In May we lost a dear friend suddenly who was like a brother to us. In June we lost our soul dog Cooper without any warning, the only dog I have ever raised from a puppy. She collapsed on a walk and we rushed her to the vet only to find that she had a large mass in her liver and her lungs were filling with blood. We had to let her go. Dan and I were heartbroken with no time to really grieve and process all of the losses that left such huge holes in our hearts. We couldn’t even imagine bringing another animal into our home until we had time to heal.
Our last moments with Coops…
The old me would have wanted to quickly find another dog to fill that void, to give me something to distract the pain. A lot of people do that, and it helps them move on. This time was different for me and for Dan, though. The pain of losing Kasey, John, and Cooper had to be faced and processed before we could open our hearts again. We needed to wade through that tumultuous river of life and grief.
On a trip to the vet in late August with our remaining dog, Sophie, I saw what appeared to be (looks can be deceiving…) a sweet and absolutely beautiful Tortoiseshell cat in a cage in the waiting room in need of a home. I felt a strong connection and told Dan about her that evening, never dreaming he’d be open to another animal at the time. And so Shiva entered our lives, an animal completely different from any we had had before, bringing mayhem and laughter…and healing.
Sweet Sophie has been glued to my side since Coops left us, full of love and devotion as she has always been. She is heading toward her twelfth birthday, and my heart contracts as I realize she won’t be with us for many more years. We moved forward, one day at a time, months passing with the frenzied activity of work and life, leaving us unaware of subtle changes and healing. Life moves on with or without us, doesn’t it?
Spring came, and with it a sense of new beginnings. I was finally able to look at dog adoption websites without bursting into tears. I felt myself open to possibilities, ready to begin the search for our new family member. Dan and I discussed it a lot, and he wanted to wait until after our trip to Belgium for ClarinetFest this summer to adopt. I convinced him that because of my longer work hours now after taking on the Associate Chair position in our department that I needed the slightly less structured time during the summer to get to know a new dog and to bond with it.
Coops’ baby toy and first collar…
I began to search in earnest, thinking that we needed a puppy so that Shiva could train it to know that she is queen of the house. I inquired about an adorable German Shepherd mix puppy, and planned to meet him soon. However, Dan and I talked again, deciding that we really wanted to see if we could find an older dog who would be settled, okay with cats and other dogs, friendly…and I searched again.
I looked at so many wonderful dogs who needed homes, wishing that I could save them all, knowing I could only choose one and needed to choose well; this was a life-time commitment for us. And then…I saw this beautiful husky mix named Maylie. The photos showed a happy dog, the description saying she was about four years old, very calm and gentle, ignored cats, loved people, and got along very well with other dogs. Yes!
Mayley (who will become Marley) with the foster mom’s grandson…
We scheduled a meeting with the kind foster mom, and waited impatiently for the time to come. It was like waiting for Christmas times ten, as my heart kept telling me this was ‘the one’. Dogs have always been a beloved and integral part of my life, always seeming to come and go defining distinct periods of my life. I see each of them as guiding me to the next place I’m supposed to be. Where would this dog take me?
I could barely focus in orchestra rehearsal this morning knowing that Brenda from Two by Two Rescue would be arriving at 2pm today with Maylie, who we would rename Marley. As suggested by some dog loving friends, we met them down at the street so that we could meet and go for a little walk with Marley, then we’d bring Sophie down and go for a little walk together. It was love at first sight.
Well…love at first sight except for Shiva. She wasn’t quite sure what to think.
Marley has had a rough time; she was found dragging a metal cable that had been wrapped around her neck twice, and it looked like she had chewed through it. Lucky for her, she ended up with Brenda who is a true angel, fostering dogs in need. Then last week, two neighborhood dogs got out of their pen and attacked Marley. She is fine, but they had to shave the back of her head and some other places to treat the puncture wounds. Amazingly, she kept her sweet disposition after that. Dogs amaze me.
It broke my heart when Brenda left, as I knew giving Marley to another family was hard for her. What a selfless act to do what it right for the animal no matter what. We consider Brenda family now- such a sweet woman.
So now we work on getting all of our four-legged creatures comfortable and happy with each other. Things are going amazingly well, but we realize that animals need time to get acclimated to change…just like we humans. I look forward to Marley integrating into our family as she gets used to life as a Gainey. We will be patient- she is so very worth it.
More to come!