Ups and Downs

At the beginning of the summer we were asked to care for a service dog. It was one of those a friend of a friend needs help kind of thing. I had been mulling around with the idea of getting a back-up dog when Big K went away to college, anyway. Her dog, JellyBean, is getting up there in age and we were afraid she would deteriorate quickly once her girl was out of the house. I decided to go ahead and take in this doggie who needed a loving home for a few weeks. It would give us the opportunity to see if we were a 2 dog family.

On May 19th, Lilli came to visit!

She instantly made herself at home and was loved and accepted by us all, furry and non furry alike.

Lili impacted JellyBean’s life positively. They got along perfectly from the start. No worries of fighting or anything. They were BFF’s from day 1. Lili is only 2 years old and still has lots of energy. She kept JellyBean busy and active. So much so that we noticed a huge difference in JellyBean’s pain level (or lack there of). JellyBean started having hurty back hips for about 6 months or so. Not enough to really make us worry yet, but we had noticed a definite slowing down and a slight occasional limp. That all disappeared when Lili came to visit. JellyBean had a little skip back in her step. They loved to wrestle and run in the yard. They both got along well for our evening family walks.

Lili and I bonded almost immediately. She followed me everywhere. She brought me stuffed toys. She made a great running partner. She is such a good dog. She has such fun little quirks about her. When she would come up to you for petting or just attention, she would lean on you, mind you she’s 75 pounds. She loved to chase the kids down the hallway, but she would do it by bouncing like a bunny. Lili didn’t just lay down like a dog, she flopped over. Thump! She loved the kids stuffed animals, but would never hurt them, she would just nom on them. She also had an affinity for yarn which was really not an issue, since I kept it out of her reach, mostly. Socks were her absolute favorite. Any family members, she wasn’t picky, as long as they came from the hamper and not the drawer. She just loved us so much she wanted to taste us.

Weeks turned into a month. A month turned into 3. Lili was part of our family. I tried to see if we could keep her. I really tried. But the bottom line was, she has an owner. Her owner needs her. Lili is supposedly a service dog and helps the lady who keeps her. I’m not sure of the details on how she helps her, but I couldn’t in good conscience take this dog who had changed all of our lives away from someone who really needed her. So, I came to grips with that and tried to enjoy the time I had left with Lili. I continued to take her with me places and treasured our morning jogs, just she and I and the dark morning light. I knew the darker sad day was coming. I just didn’t know when. That can really pay a toll on a person. I knew I was going to miss Lili when she went home. I felt like this was her home. After the horrible past year losing my mom and uncle, and oh so many other life changes, Lili really brought me back to the light. She made me smile. I never knew that animals could have such an influence on people. Maybe I hadn’t met the right one?

Then the email showed up in my inbox, last week. Lili’s owner was ready to have her back. My stomach did flip flops. I couldn’t even tell anyone for a whole day, because that would make it real. A darkness fell over me. I continued to look and act strong for my family. Lili had changed all their lives as well. The day came, Saturday. I decided it would be best if Hubbs took the little kids out while they were here picking her up. My big girl was home from college for the weekend and was here with her boyfriend when they came. It was very hard to say good bye to Lili.

After Lili left I went to the Animal shelter to see what they had. I wanted a dog just like Lili. I wasn’t too hopeful and was ready to walk away of they didn’t have exactly what I was looking for. The night before Lili went home I had looked online and saw a few pictures of Labs. One looked like he might fit the bill. I walked up to his cage and he and I looked at each other. He looked so sad yet at the same time he looked so cheerful and lovable. I had to give him a try. That was a week ago and Banner is one of us now.

I know it may seem weird to just jump into another dog so quickly after losing one that was loved to much. Lili will always have a special place in my heart. Banner is not only filling the void from when she left, but he’s also making his own place there as well. This is how I healed/am healing.