Foster Dog Files: Goodbye.

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I woke up this morning with very mixed emotions. The first thing I thought of was the fact that my dad has been gone 7 months today and the second was that Angie was no longer here. I’ve been thinking a lot about my dad the past few days, in part because I am not looking forward to the holidays and navigating through them without him, and in part because on our way to the adoption event on Sunday, we drove past Abington Hospital. My dad spent a month there prior to his death and any drive that takes me on a route near there usually stirs up my emotions. This was the closest I have come and it hit me hard…I cried for a long time in the car while Paul rubbed my back and Angie licked my face. Those 2 things allowed me to get out of the car and move forward. Thanksgiving was my dad’s favorite holiday…he loved cooking and then creating a well-balanced plate. As long as I can remember, people teased him about the way he put his meal together…while most of us would go back for whatever didn’t fit, my dad always very artfully arranged every side dish, slice of turkey and  leg on his plate. I think he enjoyed the teasing almost as much as he enjoyed the food.
As for Angie, I think anyone who reads my blog, or is friends with me on Facebook knows how much we loved her. I knew that we would, I guess I just didn’t expect her to leave a hole in my heart when she left. There was so much about her that was special and unique….and happy and joyous and unscathed by the bad stuff she had been through. I hope that she will be happy in her new home and that they appreciate all of her wonderful qualities….the way she leans, the way her whole body wags, her adorable head-tilts, her eagerness to learn, the way she wags the tip of her tail when you walk into a room, her enthusiastic kisses. I never met a dog so willing to learn and trust and love. Were there challenges? Yes…big ones. Rocco never got used to her being here and was not very nice to her. She was sick and in heat for most of the time she was here. She became so attached to Paul that I really started to worry about how difficult it would be for her when it was time for her to go. She could be impatient at times. She flung snot everywhere every time she sneezed. But, all of that was heavily outweighed by the sheer exuberance of her personality. She, like my dad, was larger than life…a character whose enjoyment of the little things made the big, difficult things more bearable.
The flip-side to the sadness I feel at these losses is an intense feeling of love. I do consider Angie moving on to her forever home a loss for us, because if things were different here, we would have kept her in a heartbeat. But, we did what we set  out to do and will do it again. Our goal is to always have a spot for a foster dog. The loss of my dad has changed relationships in our family and caused them to grow. My Uncle Dennis, my father’s brother, has become an unbelievable source of support and Paul, my brother and I have decided to move to Georgia to be closer to him and his family. My stepmother is having Thanksgiving at her house and we will be there, because despite my earlier worries about what would happen to our relationship, time has proven that we are still family.
Life really is a roller-coaster and while sometimes I want to scream “stop the ride”….I am glad I continue to get on. Though sometimes I want to hide and cry into a pillow, I am grateful to have Paul’s shoulder to cry on, and for my friends and family who have been so supportive of everything this year has brought to me. I am also grateful to be able to volunteer at the shelter and now that Angie has moved on, look forward to spending more time there again. Both Paul and I agree that there is nothing better than spending time with a shelter dog to help you forget your own troubles. Everything else seems to fade away and all that matters is the dog you are with. I highly recommend it as a cheap form of therapy with immediate rewards.
At times like this when my heart is heavy and sad, I remind myself that no matter how hard it might be, I always bounce back….even when it seems impossible. I remind myself of all the love I have and have experienced. I remind myself that I have more love to give and that I am very, very lucky to receive all the love I do. Whether it comes in the form of a note from my dad, a kiss from a dog, encouraging words from a friend or family member or a reassuring hug from my husband, love is all around me. There will never be another dad, but, he lives on in all of us. There will never be another Angie, but, the lessons learned will serve us well for the next dog.
This may not be the happiest of Thanksgivings for me, but, I am grateful nonetheless.

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