On Tuesday, my ex-husband called me at the office to formally announce his engagement, and to tell me he was getting rid of our dogs, did I want right of first refusal?
I could hear the sadness in his voice; the break in the edge of his sentences. There was a desperation — please fix this.
At the time, people were coming in and out of my office; papers were piling up on my desk. We have one of those offices with glass walls on all the private offices so you always feel like you’re in a fishbowl; so everyone can see when you’re blown apart. It was barely noon and I still had to stop at Hermes and pick up a new tie for Paul, and dig my way through documents, and get on a bunch of conference calls before the car came to take me to JFK at 3:45.
There was a time in my life when I would’ve unquestioningly told my ex that I would take the dogs, safekeep them until he could take them back. His fiancée had a young daughter, and one of Andrew’s dogs is barky and the other is…not compatible with children. I understood why the dogs wouldn’t work in their household. And I understood his desperation — this was it.
But I couldn’t take them. I couldn’t even take one of them. My life was so different now, and his dogs were a challenge. I always held up my gorgeously behaved Roo as evidence that he was the problem where those dogs were concerned, and not me, but the truth was probably somewhere in the middle.
I remembered the day we brought home chubby little Maisy — 10 weeks old! — right after Lilly died in 2006. We were so speechless with grief that I don’t think we’d acknowledged each other in days, and the only way he knew how to reach me through the fog was to buy me a puppy.
And I remembered the day we picked up Julius near Allentown, right after his uncle’s wacky second wedding, where they’d played a combination of Sade and country music all night long, and I’d gotten into such a ferocious fight with my then-mother in law that I’d spent most of the reception chain-smoking Parliament Lights on the porch of the reception hall. The next day, we’d trekked to the breeder and picked up wee Julius — a retired show dog, with his flowing locks and his vacant eyes. His mother won best of opposite sex at Westminster…
Andrew had defiantly kept the dogs when we’d split, and he’d done a good job with them. But now, shit was getting real, and he was now on the phone breaking news to me that I had delivered five years ago and that he was just coming ’round to.
So I agreed to help him re-home Maisy, and I was sure he’d work something out for Julius, and I promised to copy him on the emails I would send, and we hung up.
I wished I could fix it.
But I wasn’t his wife anymore.
He deserved care; he deserved comfort; he and his fiancée deserved to be loved and thought well-of as they transitioned their lives and their homes. They didn’t deserve to be judged for making these hard decisions. They’d taken the dogs to a behaviourist; they’d tried everything. This was the last resort — he was calling me about the engagement because he’d promised; he was calling me about the dogs because he had no other choices.
Lord have mercy.
If you think that these things get easier with time, you are right, and you are wrong. But I suppose it’s all in how you look at things: I choose to admire this man for trying to do the best he can. I choose not to judge him for re-homing them; I choose to think well of him for putting the safety of a child as a top priority.
I choose to believe the best. I choose to help.
If you are interested in adopting Maisy, please let me know — if you’re the right fit, distance is no object, but we’d obviously prefer a tri-state home. She is a purebred silky terrier, just over eight years old, and is excellent at snuggling, agility, and playing with toys. She is best as an only dog, and has never been exposed to cats. She might do okay with kids over 12 and she requires an experienced dog owner — particularly one who has experience with small dogs/terriers.
This has been one, long lesson in agility for me. Hard, exhausting, but hopeful and filled with unexpected rewards.