Acceptance of an unpleasant reality

April 30, 2012 | By | Add a Comment


This morning, I took Shayna for a walk at McIntire Park, the premier recreation area in central Charlottesville.  She was moving a bit slow getting up and going, I think because late yesterday afternoon we visited a dear friend on her farm, and Shayna did a lot of running around.

But we walked all through the park, watched as the many Dogwood Festival rides and attractions were being torn down, and of course Shayna visited with some of the workers, happily asking them to throw her ball for her, which they did.

Then, when we were on the final leg back to my SUV, which meant walking on asphalt on a long, slight incline (to the left of the “YMCA” block here), Shayna stopped, near the top of the “hill,” I guess to rest.  She also dropped her ball, which began to roll backwards, back down the incline that we had just walked up.  I told her, “Go get the ball… it’s going bye-bye…,” the latter part of which she knows the meaning of well.   But she just stood there, watching the ball go all the way down the hill, to be forgotten.  Just a few years ago, this would have been unthinkable; but even her beloved tennis ball must be sacrificed, I guess, when one just doesn’t feel like running on concrete to go save it from an untold fate.

In that moment, we looked at each other, and I felt the “dad” welling up inside me, and I told her, “Don’t worry, we’ll get another ball… it’s okay.”

But something much deeper hit me, as we began walking again.  My job isn’t to focus on or be sad about what she cannot do anymore, but rather, to focus on what she can do, and build on that.  We went and sat in the grass, and I took her in my arms and kept telling her, “It’s okay, it’s okay,” but tears were welling up in my eyes because it hurts so bad to have to accept all this.

I was talking the other day with someone about how, when one is a dog parent, whether they want to or not, they must accept that like the parent of a terminally ill child, they are going to outlive their best friends, their four-legged “kids.”  It’s something I never thought of when I went searching for my first dog.  But it’s true – and while I seem to have mastered the ability to deal with the loss of human souls, I still cannot fully get my head around this, and whenever the subject is raised, I usually walk away – I just cannot discuss it.

On the bright side, if my book is successful, or if one of the projects I am working on produces good results, I can finally begin to build the life that I most want for me, and for Shayna as she enjoys her golden years , and get her the therapy and brain tools that I know would enhance and enrich her life.  And of course, that means lots and lots of tennis balls.


Filed in: Life with Shayna, The Blog

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