When all hope is lost, we surrender. Two weeks ago, I lost all hope that I would find a job soon, or that my circumstances would change quickly enough to allow me to keep my dog. And so, I surrendered. Surrendered to failure. Surrendered to hopelessness. Surrendered to futility.
Before then, I had been suffering from the kind of magical thinking that allows people to see the silver lining in a sky full of storm clouds. I am cured now. Things don’t get better because I believe they will get better. Things only get better if and when they get better. But mostly, things get worse.
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Since I lost my job and my home in September, I have been living in a van with my dog. I should have known (and, on some level, did know) this would not work. The dog hates the van. She has always hated riding in a car and was not about to change at this stage in her life.
Inside a moving vehicle, she is a maniac and being near her is torture. Confined to the van over the past four months, she has grown more anxious and has lost a significant amount of weight (it takes a lot of energy to be that crazy). And, I have been driven to dark, desperate places in my soul I could never have imagined existed without her relentless agitation to guide the way. There have been times when I could have strangled her with my bare hands, crushed her skull with a baseball bat or pushed her over a cliff but for the deep affection and commitment I have toward her. Only love could make me this miserable, now it is time for me to let her go.
And so, after meeting with a prospective employer, and being told no jobs would be available before July, I surrendered. I gave up the magical thinking and faced reality. I can’t keep my dog. The dog I rescued from an animal shelter. The dog I felt sorry for because she had been abandoned and abused. The dog I identified with and nurtured for the past twelve years.
But, the prospect of giving her up was just as daunting as keeping her. Even though she is in perfect health, who wants a sixteen year old dog with so many special needs and idiosyncrasies? She is a dog that only a mother could love and my greatest fear was that surrender would be nothing short of a death sentence.
After contacting more than a dozen resources, I found a breed-specific rescue organization willing to take her. I was forthcoming and candid–what would be the benefit in lying? On one point, I was most concerned: If a home could not be found for her, would she be euthanized? I was given a resounding, "NO."
My silver lining had returned. I could surrender my dog knowing she could live out the rest of her natural life in a caring environment. Could I possibly expect a better outcome? Should I believe things were really getting better?
The answer is a resounding, “NO.” Despite what I was told, the rescue group now says she will be euthanized this weekend unless I intervene. And so I face another impossible situation.
In her comfort zone at home, she was a sweet old dog. When she reached sixteen, I knew I would have to contend with her passing one day soon. But, she deserves so much better than to spend her last days on Earth with strangers ready to kill her for no other reason than because she is unwanted.
These past two days, I was just starting to recover from the despair over her surrender, now I face the agony of knowing my failure will hasten her death. I am truly devastated I could no longer give her what she needed and had to give her up. Even still, I never expected surrender to be so raw and unforgiving.