when god takes away your difficult dog.

…you’ll come home to find there’s nothing to do. You’ll walk into your apartment and realize there’s no bowls that need filling, nor blankets to re-stuff, or messes to clean up or doggy diapers to change; there’s no whining, or jumping, barking or demanding and your apartment will be peaceful. And it will feel more empty than you could have ever imagined.

My difficult dog was a thorn in my side that I was not allowed to forget, dismiss, or overlook for one moment and I spent many moments proving she did not control me. Because just as much as she wanted to be picky about where to squat, I wanted those extra fifteen minutes in bed.

My day began with her needs, and it ended with her needs and every hour spent in between was calculated against her internal clock. Our relationship was spent rushing each other. There could be no drinks after work, nights spent on friends’ sofas or staying out late. There could be no sleeping in on the weekends, or fortifying ourselves inside the apartment on cold evenings. There were no long road trips or vacations without a doggy sitter. I obeyed her demands, not lightheartedly out of amusement or affection, but quickly and haphazardly out of obligation.

Even though I may have realized why God gave me a difficult dog, it was not a lesson I put into practice. The realization did not give me more patience, or her more car rides. Our evening walks were still spent tugging, urging, battling the cold or the heat on the brink of each other’s nerves. She was a personification of the realization of the guilt, of the shame of not having the time to return her unconditional love, and if I hurried even more, I could outrun this realization.

When God takes away your difficult dog, you are suddenly able to redefine what it means to be difficult. Was it so heavy, the burden of being her caretaker, the doer and master of fulfilling her needs, of being the focus of her entire world? Apparently yes, but it will never be as heavy as the weight of her love, loyalty, and silent gratitude as I carried her down those two flights of stairs for the very last time.

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