To the dogs I left behind
Before I jump into this one, a little background: I’m an animal person (well… I’m mostly a dog person). I love them, I want to be loved by them, I want to win them over, I want to save them and sometimes… sometimes I think I’m an animal whisperer, because more often than not they seem to trust me.
With that out the way, let me get into a dream I had a few weeks ago, it went something like this: I bumped into my ex (this part is hazy and a grey blur), it was awkward and had some small talk, when they casually dropped into the conversation that one of the dogs I so lovingly raised and lived with for 2 and half years had died of a heart attack a month prior, she would only have been around 3 years old, so merely a puppy in my eyes.
The next part of the dream played out in pure clarity and detail, a strong “What? No…”, a crumpled face, a returned crumpled face from the ex, who suddenly realised the pain caused. Me falling to my knees, a silent scream wrenched from my throat, pure pain and anger mixed together. Accusations flying… “Why didn’t you tell me?”, “I knew we weren’t talking, but I deserved to know?”, “How could you keep this from me?” and then, from there, probably from the pain, I woke up.
This dog had been like my child, she may have been one of two, but I was there when we went to fetch her from the breeder as a puppy, I woke up in the night when she was crying, and kept her entertained and relaxed at the newness of being separated from her siblings for the first time. She may have been bought by my ex and we did live in their home, but she was our baby, not mine, not theirs… ours.
The pain I felt when I jolted awake was intense, my heart felt like it had been wrenched out of my chest; hot, wet tears streamed down my face and sobs wracked from my body… This had hurt, this felt real and there was no way back to slumber from there.
Not long after The Breakup I realised I needed to go the no contact route. I had been a mess, I had to start from scratch and could not lapse into the mess of unworthiness that I had come from. The cost? My home, my best friend, my cats and my dogs (and my Friends box set). The ex and I did talk about me visiting the dogs whenever I wanted and taking them for walks on our once beloved beach, but who honestly would want to return to a place that you used to call home but was now mostly filled with painful memories? Then look into the eyes of the dogs you used to see, cuddle, talk to, walk and love every day… and then say goodbye? Breaking your heart with it every time?
So I never did take up the offer and upon waking from the dream, the cold realisation dawned on me that perhaps… perhaps I had abandoned them. What right did I have to ask my ex why they hadn’t told me? We hadn’t talked in over a year and from their point of view I hadn’t shown interest in the dogs in all that time? Why did I “deserve” to be told?
It did not matter that the dogs never really left my mind, that I still see bits of them in all the golden retrievers I walk past, that when I explore new places I wonder if they’re pet friendly so that I could bring our… no wait, those aren’t my dogs anymore, but god how they would have loved this place. Nevermind seeing them in all the old places we had taken them to.
I saw, maybe for the first time, from my dogs point of view; that one day she had just up and left, and that goodbye that she gave us on the stairs with tears dripping down her face and her body shaking as she had just carried her last bit of furniture out the gate was the last time we would see her. What had we done wrong? Why did she leave us?
Relaying this dream the next day to a friend and admitting out loud that it was a reminder that I had abandoned them and that, maybe I had no right to accuse my ex, was like re-opening the wounds all over again. There I was sitting on the flaked, red-painted steps wishing they could understand how much I loved them and that I never wanted to leave them and how important that moment was to me. I hope they know.