Giving Up the Dogs.


Today I do the thing that I’ve dreaded most since deciding to take a gapatticaltirement. Today I drive to the Central Vermont Humane Society, where we picked up Fozzie Bear about four years ago, and I reliquish both of the dogs.

I’ve had Maddy for around six years. We’ve been through a lot together. She was there with me as I started to pull myself together and finally quit grad school, and she was in the passenger seat as I drove cross country with no immediate job prospects and no real idea what I wanted to be doing with my life. She was forced to sit out my trip to India (though it would have been amazing if she had come!), but she filled the time by terrorizing my mom, fighting with my mom’s boxer Katie, and eventually getting ’expelled’ from the house and living in a kennel for the remaining 2 weeks. The kennel owner seemed to like her, though…

When I moved to Lebanon, we stayed in a hotel for two or three weeks before I found housing. In the entire cross country trip, followed a month later by our 2-3 week hotel stay, the only time I ever left her alone was for doggie daycare (in New Hampshire) and a single night of kenneling. Otherwise, she was in the car, in my bed, or in my lap the entire time. Thinking back on it, it’s amazing how much time we spent together.

And, to be honest, I’m not sure how I ever got through it. She was a terrible, terrible dog, at least at first. She systematically destroyed almost everything I owned (starting with my favorite things, since they smelled the most like me). An owner of a doggie day care in the bay area told me she was the highest-energy dog he’d ever seen. Keep in mind this guy had spent years running essentially a juvenile delinquency center for dogs. Eventually, she developed dog aggression issues that have complicated my ability to leave the house even further.

Still, we’ve basically got it figure out. Now that we have Fozzie Bear, she has someone other than me to terrorize. And, her cancer scare and resulting prednisone treatment, along with the passing of years, has calmed her down a lot. Although we still have a lot of trouble finding anybody other than me who can handle the dogs, things are pretty good when I’m around.

But, everything comes to an end. First, I’m going to take the dogs for one last bike ride. Then, in an hour and a half, I’ll be on the road to Montpelier. I’ve been emotionally off-kilter and even distressed for over a month, knowing that this moment would come. For years, I’ve looked forward to the freedom that I would have if Maddy lived with someone else. But, I will miss the feeling of coming home to her unconditional love. I can say with pride that I’ve never taken those moment for granted, and that both Maddy and I have shared a wonderful, fully engaging, and very cherished relationship. She’s been a great best friend.