Tuesday, July 18, 2017

They're Not Just Dogs. They're Our Kids. Our World.

A month from today, we'll be celebrating Coco's 5 Year Gotcha Day. Five. Years. I remember that day if it was yesterday. When we adopted Coco, almost 5 years ago, our lives changed overnight. We knew Coco needed medical attention however, we didn't know just how sick he was.

One of his medical issues had gone untreated for too long and had that continued, it could have been fatal. After his initial trip to the veterinary hospital, Coco was put on several prescriptions and medicated shampoo. His care was 'round the clock and leaving him alone for any length of time was not an option. I work at home so this made it easy.

Right around the same time, we were approaching a curve in the road. About a month or two prior I had agreed to stay with an immediate family member for a week. Out of state. They were moving. Their condo sold. Moving into a new one. The week I was scheduled to leave was approaching. Lisa and I knew my absence for a week was not an option. It was too late for Lisa to request a week-long vacation. We discussed every alternative under the sun. Nothing. It wasn't going to happen. At best, Lisa could scoot away for the weekend to help out.

I made the phone call. As expected, it didn't go well. Not entirely for the reasons mentioned. Add 20+ years of crap to the mix. Yeah. I explained the situation, offered to send Lisa there for the weekend or we could go up for the day. Those were the choices. The conversation lasted for about a half-hour. A slew of insults was thrown in my direction. The choice Lisa and I made to adopt Coco when we did was criticized.

"He's just a dog. Couldn't you have waited another month to adopt him?"

"He wouldn't have lasted another month."

"You made a commitment to help me out. You shouldn't have taken on the responsibility of a dog."

"Well, we did. It was a decision Lisa and I made. He's sick and needs a lot of care."

"Well, maybe you should have thought about that before adopting it."

Of everything said throughout the conversation, what seared an impression in my brain was, "He's just a dog." What does that mean? Just a dog?

Those 3 words have come to irritate me over the years. They've made it to my "Things You Should Never Say To Me" list. Since adopting Coco, those words have been said to us on many occasions.

"They're just dogs. Board 'em for a few days and go on vacation."

"They're just dogs. They can live without you for the weekend."

"Hire someone to watch them. They're just dogs."

"They're just dogs. Let 'em hide under the bed and come watch the fireworks with us."

"You can stay a little longer. They're just dogs. They can wait a couple of extra hours for dinner."

"Come hang out with us for the day. Leave the dogs in the car. Let 'em out once or twice. They'll be fine. They're just dogs."

Blah. Blah. Blah.

Little by little, our circle has gotten smaller. We haven't intentionally pushed anyone out the door. At times, speaking up, standing our ground or having to decline invites time and time again has resulted in severed ties. Our decision to expand our family was not met with approval by a select few. Snarky comments were made. Lips curled.

Those who remain are the ones who get it. It naturally happened that way.

The comments and nonchalant jabs continue to this day. Not as frequent, but enough, especially since Willa joined our family.  However, we've learned we can't change how people treat us, what they say or their views on the subject matter. The only thing we can change is how we react to it. Our choice to envelop this way of thinking and strength to adhere to it became evident the other day. Another phone conversation. Snarky comments. Pokes. Underlying criticisms. Disapproval.

"So, are you able to get out and visit people with the dogs?"

"What's going to happen when IT becomes more disabled."

"What are you going to do if IT can no longer walk?"

This time, I exhaled. I carefully took into consideration the source. My answers were short, sweet and simple. I wasn't tempted to fuel the fire or be dragged into the cycle of vicious debate. I didn't allow my disgust or frustrations with the term "IT" to be noticed. Poker face. Poker voice. I've somewhat mastered it.

Once the conversation ended, I stomped around the house. Sucked breath between my teeth. Quite possibly frothed at the mouth.

"It? IT? ITTTTTTT?!?!"

"What's going to happen when IT becomes disabled?" 

My hands and arms were up in the air. I emphasized every single word. Lisa listened and eventually replied. Then, I exhaled and observed my surroundings. Lobo was at the door whining. He needed to pee. Coco was jumping up and down. He wanted the Nylabone that was on the bureau. Willa had the zoomies. Sophie was curled up on her new bed observing the beautiful chaos that we call our life.

Face forward. Onward march.

No comments:

Post a Comment