For the past few weeks, our house has been far too quiet. No one is barking at the back door, letting me know that she has waited exactly five seconds for someone to let her in and she’s deeply unhappy about the delay. When I’m working at my computer, no one is laying by my feet, snoring loudly. I don’t hear the repetitive squeak of dog toys, or the click of canine toenails on the hardwood floors. Our house has been peaceful, quiet, and almost entirely free of dog hair…..and I don’t like it one bit.
Lots of people have asked me if we’re going to get another dog. That question always surprises me a little, because I would think that anyone who knew me at all would realize that of course I’m going to get another dog. If I should spend my final years bed-ridden in a nursing home, I’ll most likely have a chihuahua hidden under the blankets and be bribing the staff to bring it food and take it for bathroom breaks. I’m not the sort of person who wants to live a dog-free life.
But I also know that it’s too soon to bring another dog home. My husband and I are still grieving for Lucy. It’s still hard to remember to walk in the house and not call out, “Lucy, I’m home!” (One of the best things about having a dog named Lucy was being able to say that.) When I’m away from the house for several hours, I still think I need to go home and let her out. And just last night, we realized that we still had her dog food stashed in our pantry, right below the box of dog treats. The simple truth is that we aren’t quite ready to open our hearts and our home to another dog just yet.
So these days, I get my “dog fix” when I walk the shelter dogs, who are always very happy to get the attention. My son and daughter-in-law’s dogs also come visit, making themselves instantly at home at “Grandma’s” house, as they explore every nook and cranny and scope out the furniture for the best napping spots. And they don’t seem to mind too much when we make it clear that their sleeping choices are limited to the floors and the dog beds.
One way or another, we are getting used to our life without Lucy, and coming to terms with not having a dog of our own anymore. I know that this particular phase of our life is temporary, and that the time is coming when we’ll begin to look for another dog to join our family. Until then, I’m really grateful for the shelter dogs and my “grand-dogs” for making this time of transition just a little bit easier. And for reminding me of just why I love dogs so much in the first place.