He made it all the way home before he cried.
The last he saw her, she was standing in the little cell at the animal shelter, trembling.
It is an image that will be burned into his memory for the rest of his life.
He knew it would be painful, and it is.
Though not as painful as his last loss.
And the circumstances were different this time.
This time, he made the decision about when and why, not some unplanned, unknown circumstance.
But it is still painful.
He had to steel himself to go through with the task.
It is not something he did easily.
He felt like a zombi as he delivered his dog to the shelter man, trying not to think about what he was doing, emotionally, to himself and to his dog.
He just plowed ahead and did it.
It had to be done.
He knows that the pain will last for a while.
And there will be the emptiness in the yard and house.
The silence, where other sounds used to be.
No more barking in the night, or scratching on the back door.
Now it will be quiet.
Quiet even when he wished there was some sounds.
It will be quiet now.
Silence is the sound sadness makes.
The sad thing is, his dog trusted him.
After all her pain in her early years, she recognized quickly that this place was different.
She had found a home where she was loved and understood.
She opened herself to him, as much as an animal can.
He was her Alpha.
He provided the food, the prime task of an Alpha.
It was a task he took seriously, and spoiled her with special additions to her bland diet – eggs, oatmeal, meat, leftovers.
It was not something that she really could appreciate beyond the moment of enjoyment.
This, because dogs do not do comparative thinking.
And for the time they were together, he gave as much of himself to her as he could.
He loved her and gave her as much Tender Loving Care as he could, given the constraints of his life/schedule.
And she responded in the only way an animal can – she wanted to be around him as much as she could.
And she exercised her instincts to warn and protect him from outside threats real and imagined (or at least, not understood).
The good news is animals do not do comparative thinking.
They live in the moment.
But they do develop expectations about how “things” will go from day to day.
They get used to the daily routine – even if each day has no repeated routine.
So, as shocking as another trip to another kennel is for her, she will adapt.
And she will forgive him.
Because she does not know how to hold a grudge or seek revenge.
She will accept her new life.
She will deal with the changes.
Perhaps she will find another good home.
At worst, she will be put to sleep.
That is the good news.
After all, she is just a dog.
The bad news is he feels like he has failed another person.
Another person who trusted him.
Another person who depended on him.
And he has.
This is like getting a divorce.
For almost the same reasons.
Then, it was because he did not know how to continue to deal with the situation he was faced with.
After years of no change and no knowledge of how the assist in a change, he gave up trying.
So, he ended it.
This time, he knew how to deal with the issues, but also knew he could not continue to do so.
It was taking too much out of him.
Too much time.
Too much energy.
Actually it was his job that was taking all the time and energy, but of the two elements, the job was more important than the pet.
Priorities force us to make some very difficult decisions sometimes.
This was one of those times.
So he now must live with the feeling that he has betrayed the trust of a simple animal.
One who trusted him to be different from her past owners.
One who cared and would be her friend.
And it was so for a few months.
Then things changed.
And now he must live with this guilt of betrayal for the rest of his life.
So this is yet another decision that he will regret the rest of his life.
Actually, he regrets that he ever gave into his heart and adopted this second dog.
Better to have never made a commitment than to make one and break it.
So, along with the emotional pain, is the knowledge of yet another broken promise in his life.
So many broken promises.