We waited there together, only I knowing her fate, her looking at me with trust and devotion. They came to take her away, an examination they said. She didn’t want to go, and she clung to me, climbed in my lap. No easy feat for a 50 pound dog.
“No, go with him Bella, its gonna be okay.” I almost lost it right there. In social work they tell us never to say that to anyone. Don’t make statements you can’t guarantee, and all that. I wondered if that applied to dogs.
Then I was alone. Thinking maybe they wouldn’t take her and we’d get to go home together anyway, for at least one more day. Internally: Maybe there was a chance I didn’t have to betray her after all. I secretly hoped that would be the case. Despite her bull-in-china-shop demeanor, despite the hours of potty training, despite every shouted “No!” I grew to love that dog. Because it wasn’t all bad, not even close, mostly just annoying at times. Moreover, her goofball personality and mischievous nature reminded me a lot of…well me.
I looked at the clock, time had gotten away from me. I had been in the waiting room at the shelter nearly 25 minutes.
The voice tried again, “David, we’ll take her. She did great,” said the shelter manager.
Oh shoot, almost lost it again. I nodded, afraid to speak.
“All we need is the surrender fee, unless you have any questions?”
Again, no words. I shook my head and stood.
Oh hell. I realized I had to say goodbye. I knelt, repeating in my head; Don’t you do it, don’t you do it. I scratched behind her ears and patted her face. Ok still didn’t lose it. Keep it together. The shelter manager thought I was done, but no. I held her head and looked her in the eyes. Oh hell why’d you do that? I stroked her muzzle one more time. If she would’ve understood, I would’ve said, “Sorry, I let you down girl.” Of course, that’s a lousy thing to say to someone knowing you’re not going to speak with them again. And certainly, understanding English, and understanding the sentiment behind that sentence are two different things.
I turned away to go to the counter in my shame. A young man approached me, “Oh man why you givin’ up your dog?”
I lost it. The tears came and I imagine much like during a bank robbery when the tellers signal the police, the customer service women at the counter probably triggered the “We’ve got a crier” alarm. Hurriedly, I paid the surrender fee and wiped my eyes and nose. As I hit the door I was already thinking about Bella. Where is she? Is she scared? And what got me the most is that I could guess, but I wouldn’t really know. All I could do was hope she was okay. It didn’t feel like enough, still doesn’t.
In reality her greatest fault was she just being herself – a goofy puppy that had no idea how big she is, just needing attention. Hopefully, now she will find someone that can give her the time she needs.
If you are in the Phoenix area and know of anyone (including yourself) that is looking for a fabulous puppy (shots up to date, crate and potty trained) then please keep an eye on:
But also look for this cutie once she's posted-