Friday, March 07, 2008

Blast from the Past

Do you remember these guys?
Duke and Daisy. They were our dogs from 2001 till we left for Japan in 2004. We loved them (although Jeff didn't always want to admit it.) I have always been a dog lover, and early in our marriage I used to be addicted to going to the Humane Society and looking at the dogs. Then, one day, our neighbour got a puppy. We asked where the puppy was from, and he informed us that the neighbours on the corner were selling their dog's puppies. I casually mentioned going to take a look. Okay, truth be told, not so casually. I was more like a little kid, jumping up and down... "Can we? Huh? Huh? Can we???" and then skipping all the way to the corner. Jeff sensed the danger. I saw the wary look in his eyes. Who knew we'd end up with two of them?? But it made sense. We were both working full-time; they would keep each other company... And besides, Jeff was immediately attracted to the independence of Daisy, while I was smitten by the sucky nature of Duke. And so suddenly we were the owners of two beautiful mutts.

The following three years were filled with absolute chaos. We bought a fixer-upper in Fenwick. (Read: a should-have-been-burned-to-the-ground "historically designated" dump in Fenwick) We lived in do-it-yourself filth and paid through the nose in heating bills, while I worked full-time and Jeff changed careers, deciding to become a teacher. Did I mention that I was also trying to complete an all-consuming and panic attack provoking Master's thesis? No, that's right, I probably didn't. That would be because I've spent the last 4 years trying to BLOCK those harrowing memories!

And all through the chaos, the dogs were there. Our faithful companions. Admittedly, they largely added to the chaos. They were full of energy, loved to chase each other around the house, and dragged in plenty of their own filth. We're well aware of how bad our house smelled. But truth be told, I'm not sure I could have gotten through those years without them. My stress levels were at their peak, and for me there was nothing better than crashing on the couch with Duke after a long, hectic day. That beast would sleep on top of me, sharing my pillow, and then not so gently nudge and eventually paw me for "breakfast." Jeff and I both have great memories of walking in the field with them, where they'd chase the coyotes and deer. It was amazing to watch them run in circles after each other, finally expending their built-up energy.

The hardest part of leaving for Japan was leaving them. It's still hard for me to think back to that time, mostly because they knew. They absolutely knew we were leaving. And even though we found a good home for them, where they could still be together, it ripped me up inside. I remember the night Jeff dropped them off at their new home. I went to my parents' place (we had just sold our house, turning a good profit, I'll have you know...and we were leaving for Japan the following week.) My mom took one look at me and the tears messing up my face and passed me a bottle of wine. "This will make you feel better." It didn't. What a horrible night.

So why bring it all up again? Why delve into these bittersweet memories? My friend Caroline always told me the best part of my storytelling was the element of suspense. I dare not disappoint you, fair readers...

Last night we got a phone call from my mom. It turns out Duke and Daisy's owner needs to find them a new home, and she thought she'd contact us first to see if we want them. Now... before I go on... KEEP YOUR COMMENTS TO YOURSELF, especially if you're a non-dog lover with the family name (including maiden) of Klassen. Ahem. I think I make myself clear!

This is an interesting dilemma. I had often thought, before giving them away, that the perfect scenario would be if we could find a family that would just take the dogs while we were away, and then give them back. I've also always thought that I'd love for my kids to grow up with a dog. (Studies show, BTW, that children have fewer allergies and problems with asthma if they grow up with a dog.) I used to imagine myself pushing a stroller while also holding a dog on a leash.

Then there's the emotional attachment. I love these dogs. And I hate the thought of them possibly ending up at the pound, and then, even worse, having to be separated. It's not right, and I have to stop writing about that right now because I find the thought extremely distressing.

But after a brief conversation, it seems that Jeff and I will be saying no to this offer. Perhaps pragmatism is having its day. The house is too small, the dogs are too big. We'd have to walk them in all kinds of weather... how would we clean them and dry them on gross, sloppy days? And what of travel and dreams of living overseas again? Sure, I'm probably going to be home for a few years (yes, we'd like to have more kids) but after that, then what? What if we want to go away? I hate it, I hate it, I hate it. But I think that's how it's going to be. Jeff is the one making the phone call. I just can't.

Know anyone who wants two beautiful dogs?


Anonymous said...

surprisingly enough i can understand the dilema. it really is amazing that they were able to connect with you via your parents. i can understand the idea of children growing up with dogs being a good thing and when the time is right you will find the perfect pet once again. great 'blast from the past'. erika

Rose said...

fine, I won't post a comment...


Anonymous said...

hey jeff! its richard. karen was showing me your blogs. i love the photos. i was wondering if you would like to take some pictures of our place. you pick the light, mood, what ever. i'd like to see what you can do with it. your canvas. give me a call so i can get your email adress and maybe set something up. say hi to gypsy and the baby for us. talk soon.
PS. Karen is SOO wishing this issue with Duke and Daisy had come up before we got our pup this summer. Three dogs is bit much.