There’s a man in our neighborhood who walks his two white huskies every day. The dogs are fluffy and clean and lively. When my husband sees them, or any dog, he says, “I’m glad we don’t have a dog.”
I say, “They’re good company.” And I feel a bit sad. Now we live in an apartment complex with a no pets rule.
We did have a dog a couple of years ago, when we still lived in the big house.
We got Saachi, a Jack Russell terrier, because my family, friends and I thought a dog would be good for my husband with dementia. He could have a routine, go for walks, get some exercise, and enjoy a companion. Dog therapy. We chose a Jack Russell because my good friend has an Irish Jack who is a dream dog, cute and well-behaved, and small enough to carry.
Saachi arrived in the fall. It fell to me to take the puppy out at midnight to do her business. Of course she was lonely and she cried when we put her in the crate. I made a nest of towels next to my bed, leashed her to the end table, and she slept there, where I could reach down and reassure her with a pat.
When we started to train her, we hired a special dog whisperer who was quite costly. He gave the three of us lessons, but my husband couldn’t remember the lessons, and I already felt overwhelmed by my responsibilities.
We considered fencing in part of the yard so we didn’t have to take her out as often. That was a really expensive proposition: $2000+. And we still had to worry about the red tail hawks living in the woods, who might fly down and snatch up a little puppy for dinner.
While all this was happening, I was recovering from a foot operation. When I was resting on the day bed with my foot up, Saachi would lie next to me. I enjoyed her company. Sometimes I’d throw toys for her to chase around the bedroom.
Once I was hobbling around, we tried puppy school. Saachi behaved horribly. The trainer put barriers around her, to block her view of the other dogs. It didn’t help. Saachi barked like a maniac the entire time. I was flustered and embarrassed.
She was just as bad in public. We took her into PetSmart and she went crazy when she saw another dog. The same thing happened when we walked her in town. We took her to doggy day care, so she could run around with other dogs.
After another two disastrous puppy school sessions, the trainer suggested that she give Saachi private lessons. The first day the trainer arrived, we all sat in the living room. “I’ve been thinking a lot about you,” she said. “Saachi is not a good fit for your life style,” she told us. “She needs lots of exercise and intense training.”
We knew this was true.
The trainer continued. “I know a family whose Jack Russell just died. They have two boys and a fenced in yard. They’d be interested in taking Saachi.”
Yes. We let her go.
And when she left the house with the trainer, we fell on each other and cried. We really loved that dog.
Lesson learned, but my heart still aches when I remember Saachi.