Johnnie has been with us now for six weeks. In those six weeks, we have fallen in love.
With every passing day, I find myself a little less able to ignore the “what if. . . ” creeping up in the back of my head. Both Mark and I have cautiously brought up the idea of keeping her because each day we find something new about her to fall in love with. The sleepy face she makes when she wakes up, the way she offers “sit pretty” like crazy now when she wants something, the way she catches on to new training cues extremely quickly, the way she falls asleep on your chest at the end of the night – Johnnie is a one of a kind dog, and I’m beginning to wonder if I will always regret letting her get adopted.
I won’t lie – I have pictured my future with Johnnie. Mark loves her, and I imagine us going on countless more adventures since we’d have all the time in the world. I imagine what she’ll be like when she’s old and lazy and probably a little cranky. I imagine all the things we could get accomplished with years to dedicate to training, including getting her certified as a therapy dog so she could create more smiles like this one:
But then I snap back to reality. I remember that my future is up in the air. I have no idea what I’ll be doing a year from now, let alone five or ten years down the road. Rental housing that accommodates pit bull dogs is tricky to find, especially for someone on a tight budget. I don’t have the long term stability that she deserves. Plus, there are always others out there who need my help. Adopting Johnnie would be letting go of some of my flexibility to help the many more in need.
It brings me comfort to know that she will bring so much joy to someone else. Once we find the right fit, I know she’ll bring them the same happiness she brings to me and my family. They’ll learn how to deal with her quirks and they’ll figure out how to set her up for success and they’ll build a positive, trusting relationship with her – just like she deserves. And for a long time I’ll think about my former foster dog Johnnie Cash and how she was probably “the one that got away” and I’ll wonder if I’ll ever meet another dog like her again – but I’ll know we did the right thing for her.
Until the day comes that we send her off to the perfect family, we’ll be fitting in as much snuggling, laughing, playing, adventuring and loving time as possible. Even though it will be hard to see her go, Johnnie will always serve as a reminder for why I have to say goodbye to my foster dogs.
“It came to me that every time I lose a dog they take a piece of my heart with them, and every new dog who comes into my life gifts me with a piece of their heart. If I live long enough all the components of my heart will be dog, and I will become as generous and loving as they are.” – Anonymous