Saturday, August 31, 2013

Puppy, Loss, and Change

Darcy at 16 weeks

On Book View Cafe blog, my husband has been blogging about our life and adventures with Darcy, which are now coming to a close. Darcy will be returning to his breeder, who will find him an owner capable of training him to his full potential.

Despite all our care and knowledge about dogs, our age (both of us in our mid-60s) and other competing demands on our energy made it increasingly difficult to give Darcy the training and attention that an smart, intense, high-drive dog needs. This was especially true since at 4 months, Darcy is entering adolescence and testosterone is upping the intensity. Even so, we have given him a foundation of house manners, basic commands (sit/down/come/leave-it/loose-leash walking) and excellent socialization with other dogs. He plays happily with the neighbor's two Labradors, who are big enough to enjoy the kind of rough and tumble that so often characterizes German Shepherd Dogs. At his breeder's, he'll have a chance to play with his sister until he goes to a new home. He's a confident, outgoing dog.

What brings our "temporary parenthood" to a close is a larger, human drama. Today I will be leaving for another state to help care for my dear friend and her family in the final weeks or months of her life. I posted pictures of us a few days back. She's asked me to be present when she dies. I feel honored and humbled by the request. One of the hard realities is that Dave, my husband, cannot manage Darcy alone. So life changes act like dominoes, one cascading into another. Life gets shaken up, fractured into pieces we sometimes don't even recognize. The shapes and colors are foreign, and yet as they settle into their new configuration, they find a harmony there as well. We know, intuitively if not in so many words, that change has brought us everything we love, but that all those things are ours "on loan." We are stewards, not owners. Of land, of animals, of the hearts of those we love and who love us. When these things pass from us, we honor them with our grief.

Darcy goes to the prospect of a full and happy life, doing work he and his ancestors were bred for. I go to offer myself to help ease my friend's passage, to fill her days with the joys of a long friendship, to care for her family. Dave has farewells and awakenings of his own. Our journeys are not identical, nor should they be. He will hold the space for me to return, my anchor, just as I do for him.

Lesson for today: Don't wait to tell the people you love how you feel.

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