Today I'm going to get out of bed, make a breakfast shake, go for a run, clean my apartment, get a Christmas tree, straighten my hair, go to the chiropractor, take a nap, head into work, and keep living.
Yesterday I slept for hours in the middle of the day because after 15 months together, I sent my last guide dog puppy off to pursue his future. I drove 8 hours to Portland and back, and cried for 3 of them. There is no way to explain the feeling. I know he's "just a dog". I know he was destined to belong to someone else, and have known that since the day I got him. I poured my heart and soul into taking a goofy, crazy puppy and making him a well mannered dog that can behave appropriately in almost any situation. I failed at that task and he was dropped from the program because he simply couldn't do the right thing EVERY time like he needed to.
We spent about 3 weeks together just hanging out since he couldn't go out in public anymore. I watched him go from a dog who was trying so hard to a puppy that got to enjoy life. He could chase frisbees, run around in the snow, be distracted by dogs and it didn't matter. In those 3 weeks he turned into a cuddle bug...which is something he had never been for over a year. He got to just. be. And it was a beautiful thing.
I never said goodbye. I was too focused on getting out the door before I fell apart. I learned that 2 of his brothers were also at the kennels and they'll probably get to play together. I know they will love the crap out of him because he's just that kind of dog. And I'm sure he will be easy to place with a forever home.
My heart doesn't feel like it was torn apart. It feels more like there's been a hole cut out of the photo of my life. He hasn't broken my heart, he's added a piece to it. But I feel like there's just something missing. Last night I jumped in the shower and half expected to see him standing there when the water turned off. I still had the baby gate up, blocking the kitchen so he couldn't clean the floor for me. When I crawled into bed at 3pm after the drive, the stuffy toy he had shared with me last night was waiting for me, and I half expected to hear the soft padding of his feet coming in to lay down on his bed. When I woke up in the middle of the night, I didn't have to be quiet. There is no head staring at me from the edge of the bed, just waiting for me to say "good morning sunshine!" so he can eat breakfast.
This is the last time I will let myself cry. Life goes on, and as a puppy raiser I always know this day is coming. I'm intentionally skipping our next puppy club meeting (and spending the day with a police K9 team instead!) because I just can't take the sad looks from other raisers. This is what we DO. We love a puppy and give it away so that someone else's life will be better.
But I also know that my heart is big enough and strong enough to do it again. And it will. In 10 days. And she will be tiny and adorable. And will bark and whine all night. And she will pee all over my floor. And I will love her, too. And maybe, just maybe, this one will be someone's eyeballs.
I love you, Arturo, Lawrence, Pomona, Vortex, Janda, Vicente, and my precious precious Handsome boy. And I can't wait to meet you, Miss G.