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Loretta turns into a little lady when I dress up! How cute! Of course, she is probably just reacting to the change in me: I am no longer the animated party girl but turn into something different. It's just fun to think that she knows. Perhaps I should dress up more often. I do have to admit that it was fun to come flowing down the stairs with my little lady and hear an instructor say, "You look BEAUTIFUL!" and sound truly impressed. It's something i haven't ever really heard before--reactions like that in the Midwest are reserved for the truly stunning. I really needed that experience this week. I am a middle-aged single woman in a group where the other women my age have all achieved things that I'm not very confident I will achieve: each of them has had a career as well as a family. So for me, struggling along later in my life to do the thing that I am passionate about and trying to do it for the sake of the thing and not for the status it brings or the glamor associated with it, it is very hard to maintain a sense of who I am in a setting where people are comparing notes, laughing at each other's children's antics, etc. When I answer negatively the question of whether I have kids, discussion moves on to someone else regardless of what I try to share positively about myself. Unfortunately, it happens over and over wherever I go. Even my stories about C are not funny to people who don't know me--she is someone else's child, and the moments that we treasured together are ours alone.

These experiences tend to leave me feeling very melancholy; and the experience at lunch yesterday was a real boost to my mood. And we wonder why the rules about dressing up existed for so long... I'm certain that most people would think that it would be better if it was a suggestion and not a requirement. i have mixed feelings about this. If it was a suggestion, I probably would not have done it, even though I do enjoy it. With the schedule being so busy, i would simply forego it because it's a hassle. It would be a good experience, but it's not mandatory and I'm tired after a brisk walk...

Last night, a support froup was held for people who had had previous dogs from here or from other schools. I almost did not go--I thought that I had done a reasonable job of working through my emotions about Meg's retirement and making room in my heart for Loretta, as evidenced by my intense love at first site and recognition of her excellent work and ability to bond with me. I was wrong about my success in working through my emotions about Meg, and I'm glad that I went. Michele Drolet led the group, and she began by reading a poem written by a graduate who had come here from another school about the transition from one dog to another. When she got to the part about it hurting the dog to work, I started to sob--and I am crying as I write this. It brought back all the feelings I had over the months of wondering if Meg could make it, not knowing how much pain she was in, and finally seeing her react so confusedly when she needed to go around a person after starting Phenobarbitol. I really felt that her last few precious weeks were stolen from me and from her, and it was not fair to either of us. Sitting in that group, I was overwhelmed with the urge to get on the floor, hug her, and bury my face in her side and tell her I'm sorry, tell me I'm sorry. I don't know that I will ever lose that urge. I don't know that I will ever lose the idea that she should have graduated seminary with me. There are people here who worked dogs until they were eleven. Meg woill have just turned ten in 2010, when I will be looking at graduation. Why did it have to be like this?

i love Loretta, and in time everything will be all right. I don't understand how grief and love can go hand in hand. There is no way to describe i tto someone who has not experienced it. It's not like grieving a death or a divorce, putting a child up for adoption, etc. I am losing a companion who has been a part of me; and as I learn to accept a new one with open arms, I must somehow cope with the feelings of loss and related emotions. I often feel a tremendous sense of guilt when I am purely accepting of the new companion, as if I am betraying the previous one. I remember Meg becoming upset the first time I left without her... She climbed on my air hockey table, and Alexis had to take her in another room for the next few times. Was she angry at me? Or is that too much humanization? Perhaps she was just disoriented by the change. Who am I to assume anything about what Meg feels? If I lavish praise on Loretta, when does Meg get such praise?

I called Mom and asked her to put me on speaker phone so that I could talk to Meg. She did, and I said a bunch of things to Meg. Meg wagged and sniffed and snuffled in the phone, and Mom said she sat up like she was listening. It felt good to say, "You're a good girl, Meg," even though I couldn't touch her.


( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Jun. 1st, 2007 01:35 pm (UTC)
Snapple and cupcakes
I will order Snapple and a box of cupcakes from the shoppers on Monday. Thanks for the suggestion.
Jun. 1st, 2007 01:26 pm (UTC)
retirement sucks. Especially when the dog is young and has been forced to retire due to illness.
I'm thinking of you, and sending prayers.
Jun. 1st, 2007 01:36 pm (UTC)
Thanks. Loretta had reason to make me extremely proud this morning, and that was good even though the reason was not a positive thing. I really do love this dog!
Jun. 1st, 2007 02:17 pm (UTC)
Big hugs!

Although I'm sorry for your grief, I'm also glad you're able to wrok through it and that your grief isn't keeping you from learning to love Loretta. You're a very down to earth woman. smiles at you
Jun. 2nd, 2007 01:01 am (UTC)
When I read your post, I cried as well... I do understand what you're going through on both levels:
I've had Yahzee for a year now, and I still feel guilty about the fact that I retired my previous guide, Stoney. I knew that it was time to retire him; he was slowing down, showed less interest in work, etc. He was almost nine when he retired. Sometimes, though, I feel gu9ilty, or just plain miss him. When I graduated from college recently and gave the speach for my class I was so delighted to have Yahzee at my side, but part of me felt that Stoney should be there as well, because he'd been with me through all of college except my final semester... When I go visit my parents, who now have Stoney, and he curls up and sleeps with me, I just want him back working. When Dad and I walk the dogs together, and Dad has to take Yahzee while I have Stoney, because Stoney's so insistent that he walks with me on my left side, I just want my boy back... I love Yahzee, and Stoney equally, just in different ways, but I'm not sure that you ever get over retiring a dog, and it's not an experience that you can truly relate to unless you've been through it...
I also understand what you mean about the whole achieving a career thing; I am so worried that I will never achieve my career goals, and I am concerned that I, too, will be middle aged and never have a career or a family, while other women achieve both of these things...
Well, your post inspired me to go home and visit Dad and Stoney (Mom's out of town) and I think Dad would appreciate it if I'd stop crying at the computer and go catch the rest of the Dodgers game with him on XM! :) I just wanted you to know that I understand some of what you're going through, and that I'm here if there's anything I can do.
Jun. 2nd, 2007 04:42 am (UTC)
Big hugs to you. I can't imagine what you must be feeling. Your post has inspired me to work Yogi more and treasure everyday I have with him. Not that I don't do that already, I do for sure, I'm just going to do it one heck of a lot more What I do understand is how valuable and loveable these dogs are - and I couldn't imagine the world without them.

The transition must be difficult, but I know you'll get through it, with the help of everyone here, Alexis, and of course Meg. It must felt so comforting to talk to Meg and have her react to your voice.

I love you Sarah, and I'm here if you need anything. Call my name, and I'm here.
Jun. 16th, 2007 09:07 pm (UTC)
You are an incredible woman! The beauty and power of your words, as well as the emotion they carry, has me in tears. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and feelings.

Rachel was just over nine when she officially retired, but her work was pretty restricted for about eighteen months before that. I cried the first time I walked out the door without her, knowing that she would never be my guide again. I would have a guide, but it wouldn't be my Rachella, and that hurt so much.

This continued for several days. I'd cry randomly, rail at fate, Goddess, whoever had decided that my lovable little black lab could no longer work for me. The medication had finally taken the toll people had been predicting for years, and it was so hard to deal with.

When I got Caroline, I was able to recognize that she was a good worker, and, in many ways, was more responsive than Rachel. Still, for a long time, I felt that a part of me was closed off from her, still grieving the loss of Rachel.

My situation was different from your own, in that I started a new phase of my life with a new dog. I got her in June of 05, and started grad school the following winter. So, it was all new with Caroline. Also, Rachel lives in very close proximity to Caroline, and everyone gets along well. At first, it was hard to share the attention between the two of them, but it ended up working well.

I'm rambling now, when all I really wanted to say is thank you for sharing such an enormous part of yourself with me.

Jun. 17th, 2007 09:57 pm (UTC)
Thanks for sharing yours with me as well. One of the things I love about LJ/blogging is that I can ramble on the way I want to and people write back and do the same. [hugs]
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )


Sarah Blake LaRose
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