It was dark as I backed out of the driveway. The kids had said their good-byes and we drove most of the way in silence. The drive itself was peaceful; the high-mast lights along the interstate illuminated the darkness with a cantaloupe glow. There weren’t many cars on the road, although being late on a weeknight, I wouldn’t have expected much traffic. Most people were probably at home, tucking their kids into bed, watching a TV show with their spouse, that sort of thing.
Before I knew it, we arrived at our destination. I took a deep breath and opened my door. She hopped out and we tentatively shuffled up to a gray, nondescript building. We stepped inside and found ourselves in a small room. The drab concrete walls looked as if they were pitted with acne scars. Above our heads, fluorescent lights fizzed and hummed, while a camera silently leered at us like a voyeur. I did not want to be here and neither did she.
There were no chairs in the room, so I grabbed a packet and pen off the table and plopped down on the floor. She ambled up next to me and sat down to my left. As I filled out the packet, a heaviness gripped my chest, as if I caught in a sullen embrace. I began to weep. Ink blots formed where my tears splashed off the paper. She eyed me nervously, but didn’t speak. I called my wife, Amber. Are we being too hasty? Maybe we need more time. Can we get her the help she needs? What could we, if anything, change to avoid this situation?
At the end of the conversation, the decision that brought us to this point remained unchanged.
The paperwork now finished, I wrapped my arms around her and buried my face in her neck. It was only for a few seconds, but felt like minutes. I choked out an “I’m sorry,” and was on my feet. This moment was like ripping off a band-aid; you know its going to hurt, so better to do it quickly and get it over with. I led her over to cage D, ushered her inside, and swung the thick Plexiglass door shut. The clicking of the lock reverberated off the walls of the room. The finality of it all. Now on the outside looking in, I couldn’t bear to look at her, but like coming upon the scene of an accident, I couldn’t look away either. I held her gaze momentarily through the smudged door. With tears streaming down my cheeks, I apologized again. Promptly turning, I stumbled through the door and out into the cold, black night.
There are times in life where good intentions only get you so far. Things don’t work out the way you want them to. In our case, holes, burrowed deep by grief, were probably filled prematurely. She was someone new, exciting, and kept our minds preoccupied from the pain we felt from the passing of another. Yet, there are only so many character flaws that we could overlook, especially when said flaws have financial implications on the inside of barely three and a half year old house. In the end, we tried to make it work, but were unsuccessful.
I finish this post with tears in my eyes. Earlier this morning, I saw her profile updated on the website’s list of available dogs. She stared back at me, almost defiantly. You can clearly make out her under bite, which makes her cute, in an ugly sort of way. Her left ear is inelegantly flipped up, as if it was caught mid-wave. A moment ago, I checked the website on a whim.
She is gone.
What once was mine, now belongs to someone else. A family member twice orphaned, has now found her family, again. I breathe a sigh of sadness and relief.
Here’s hoping the third times the charm.