We sadly realized that she would be better off in the foster of a loving family and a safe yard. I began to think of our road ahead and the many hardships that she would have to endure. Sure, she would eventually adapt to the stress and anxiety of being on the road (we already have). That's not our only concern though...
On the ferry from La Paz to mainland Mexico, Shady would undoubtedly be forced to endure the 16 hour voyage in the cargo hold. I imagine her thinking it was indeed some cruel punishment for doing something wrong. These fears would return months later when we would have to fly her from Panama to Colombia while our vehicle endures the same torture by heavy freight ship, while we set sail around the Darien Gap. While deep into Central America, the sounds of boogie-men that lurk outside our casita (which means little home), along with numerous hair-raising skirmishes with the canines of latin america would surely turn her into a vicious bodyguard to be dealt with. Of course she would have her fair share of lost fights, after accidentally prancing too close to a sleeping beast. The bridge would someday gap, between her role as domesticated every-man's-best-friend to the primordial beast that hides deep within her DNA.
|Shady's primal instincts only kick in during fetch.|
Shady would no longer be the same Shady that we all know and love today. Instead she would have forged a hard veneer and the necessary street instincts to cut it among the pack down south. She would ultimately learn the law of Club and Fang. Characteristics that in a human, can only be developed in prison or from a lifetime spent in the seedy underworlds of some metropolis like LA or New York. This path would surely have taken her to an alternate universe, a fate she would have surely met if she was never rescued from that animal clinic nearly a decade ago. How could I let the past seven years of love and friendship die in vain?
Alas, we decided that we loved our Shady exactly how she was…a careless, and unsuspecting teddy-bear of sorts. With her anxiety symptoms cleared and her newfound state of joy, I had to put aside my selfish desires and face the facts that she could not come with us. When confronted with the questions of my friends and family, whether she'd stay or go with us, I would counter the inquiry into an impromptu and discreet interview for a future foster parent. My brother had eventually warmed up to her presence and acknowledged the eventual need for a dog for Peyton to play with, but with his house now on the market and an unforeseeable knowledge of what their future home could handle, he simply said "maybe in a year, we'd love to have her".
We had friends in Texas and family in North Carolina who told us they would surely take her in, but that added the complicated arrangements of getting Shady across the country. Another "punishment" that would surely make her wonder why, in her mind, we had abandoned her for good. Well at least we had a plan B, but we would love to find someone in Eastern Washington where I have many options in case our new foster family could suddenly not keep her for our entire length of vanishment.
|How can you say no to a face like this?|
When we talked about the situation casually with my best friend Kyle, he quickly said "we can take her, no problem!", without even looking at his wife for her permission. Typical of Kyle, willing to bend over backwards at the drop of a hat. We brushed aside the gesture and went on with our drinks (which could have surely been the source of his comment). We let the thought marinate and did not bring it up again but he kept insisting. Kyle was actually my roommate when Shady was only 9 weeks, when HE actually talked me into adopting a puppy from the shelter. Kyle, our other roommate Justin, and I raised Shady together for her first year (or was it two?) and if it weren't for him, Shady wouldn't be in my life at all. This was our best possible scenario, especially since Kyle had a smaller dog already and a yard and steady home situation. We secretly hoped this would be our solution.
|Cue the Sarah Mgloughlin music.|
Kyle and Ashlee (his amazing wife), had apparently discussed the matter in private and continued to offer their home to Shady. We did not want to jump to a conclusion too quickly, and certainly did not want them to eventually regret their decision so we arranged for Shady to stay the night with them and get a feel for her interaction with the other pup. When we said a brief "see-you-later" to Shady she could tell something was up, and apparently she wined and cried for some time after we left but eventually she settled in. Kyle and Ashlee still insisted it was the right solution and we all decided that maybe it would be too much to say an official goodbye to Shady. We agreed that we would stay away from her and give her time to forgive and forget. Apparently there were a couple power struggles, between her and LuluBelle (Kyle's other dog), while they figured out the natural pecking order and who is the true master of the tennis ball.
It was very hard to leave her behind, especially after 8 years of companionship through the best and worst of times. My faithful sidekick would have to wait at least a year (maybe two), until we return to her side with tales of strange creatures and foreign lands. It's been hard to imagine our journey without her, it would be like Don Quixote without Rocinante, or John Thornton without his loving companion Buck. I occasionally wonder about the inevitable B&E while we're sleeping in the 4runner, when we would surely appreciate her vicious bark and sharp canines, but after deep thought I would rather meet the would-be thief's reaching hand with the hard thump of my maglite and then formally greet them with a shot of bear-spray in the face. I would rather that, than tarnish the innocence of my sweet little Shady-girl. I can rest assured at night, since my only concerns for her now are few. What's the worst that can happen to her now? She might fetch her last ball, finally keeling over from joy, her heart exploded into tiny fragments while a thirsty grin is plastered on her face. Or the more likely chance that she will be over pampered by Kyle and Ashlee, and finally fatten up from the scraps fed under his table.