Exactly 21 days after dear Emma slammed free of this dimension and left me in lingering shock, I woke up. Something had shifted within me. I was supposed to get a dog, a particular dog, that very day. I thought I might have a vague idea of what the dog might look like, small, of course, male, darker color than Emma, but that’s it . . . until I walked into the living room and for a split second saw this beautiful little dog, curled up in my chair where Emma used to sit. The vision lasted only a split second. But it left me knowing just who this little soul was.
So I went online again, straight to Poland, Indiana, the Rescue Farm there, where I “knew” he would be. Saw the head of a dog who did indeed look like him. Must be him! Set up an appointment for the next day. Asked Doug, one of my new Green Acres Neighborhood Ecovillage mates — Doug moves in directly across the street tomorrow — to go out there with me. That way we could continue to work on the text for our ecovillage website on the way there, and he could meet all the dogs, since he also wants to get one once he’s settled in.
So, starting at 3 p.m., on last Thursday’s hot, sweltering afternoon, we drove west on state road 46 to Spencer and kept on going until we came to a church, went a bit further, then turned right, then left at the T, then right — by this time we’re on a gravel road — then a final left, and aaah, yes, there’s the red shed where it’s supposed to be from the directions, and yes, almost exactly one hour from when we started, we had arrived at the Rescue Farm run by a young couple who are manifesting their dream of helping small dogs and cats find forever homes.
The young woman took me in to their little show room, where she had already brought in the dog I had picked out by his photo. Oops! Not him! Not the dog in my vision curled up in the chair! HUGE surprise and letdown. Especially since the dog’s name was “Emmett,” and when I had seen him on the website, I was overwhelmed by the synchronicity with Emmett being a male version of Emma . . .
Okay, so maybe it’s another dog? She took me out to the kennel, warning me beforehand of the huge clamor our entrance would create. Two tiers of crates on facing walls . . . And yes, huge clamor, each dog begging to be the one chosen for deliverance. Looking at the cages on the east wall, I couldn’t take my eyes off a small white dog that reminded me so much of Emma it was painful. And that little dog was doing his? her? very best to get me to say yes, locking desperately into my eyes with no sound.
I wrenched myself away. No. Not a faux Emma-replacement. Not fair to Emma or to her successor. Where’s the one I saw in my mind’s eye?
I turned to the west wall; again, huge swelling clamorous voices. I was feeling overwhelmed, overcome with their pain, their need, their desperation. The young woman pointed to the top right corner cage, hidden in the shadows. That dog. I looked. Hard to see, but YES! That dog. I pointed. She brought him out, and I followed her back out of emotional hell into the light, silent, sultry summer day.
There was no question. This was the dog.
Even before we returned to the show room, it was obvious to me that “Jo Jo” would be going home with us. (Ugh, I thought. Must rename.) Two years and one month old, ten pounds (two pounds smaller than Emma), soft, silver and bronze-colored hair with darker head and tail. A Silky Terrier (like a Yorkie, but bigger).
His story: “Jo Jo” was the beloved dog of a homeless woman who lived in her car. She had left him in the car with the windows cracked on a hot day for two hours and someone turned her in for breaking a state law against leaving children or pets in a car, even with the windows cracked, during hot weather. She tried for two weeks to get him back, but it would have cost her $1500 (in court fees?).
Yes, this law is a good one; and, how awful it must have been for a homeless woman to lose her puppy. I imagined Jo Jo as her only real contact in the world . . . And now, I was the one who got the benefit.
And boy, did I! After only two days, I see that all the “shadow” aspects of Emma that I did not like (her need to bark excessively: at someone coming to the door, at dogs going by our house, at big dogs we meet on our walks, at anything on small wheels — vacuum cleaners, suitcases, skateboards) is not part of this little dog’s makeup. YES!
Furthermore, he’s completely house-trained, and after the first night in a crate, insisted on sleeping on the bed with me. (How do I know? On the second night, when I was ready to go to bed and still not certain about his willingness to not pee on my bed, he kept dragging the blanket out of the crate when I’d try to put it in there.) We slept together fine. No big deal.
On the first morning, I already had his new name. Officially and formally, he would be called “Curious George” (already he shows a penchant for exploring small spaces in the house that Emma completely ignored). But since the name “George” doesn’t really fit his little self, he will be known by part of his last name. So full name — drum roll — CURIOUS GEORGE, THE SILVER SHADOW.
And Shadow he is. Constantly near me, ever underfoot, and since he’s darker than Emma’s whiteness, easy to trip over at night when I get up for a drink of water.
After two days, I still have trouble saying “he” rather than “she.” I do constantly compare them, and am surprised to realize that I “prefer” (rationally) Shadow to Emma, in that he doesn’t bark so much. (Plus, his hair, being silky rather than cottony and sparser than hers, doesn’t get all matted!)
And then, of course, guilty, guilty, guilty, of bespoiling her memory!
I watch myself go through these feeling states, and am reminded of how, when Jeff died, I realized soon afterwards that life without him felt much more spacious, despite that I missed him so.
I think, maybe I shouldn’t have gotten a dog so fast? Only 21 days? My god, was I just following my sister and Dad’s advice after all? (see this post). Then I feel foolish, and stupid, and weak, unable to take my own advice, which I think is much more sound. Ha!
But the directive was so swift, and clear, and surprising! And the vision of Shadow on my chair so startling and real. Then I think Emma dissolved into the plenum so that she could come back as Shadow, minus the foibles of her Emma personality that drove me crazy.
But no, that can’t be, unless Emma “walked in” to Shadow’s body. For Shadow was there waiting for me, even when Emma was alive. He had been at the Rescue Farm for the same three weeks that I had been without Emma. Wow! Did he arrive there the very same day she left me?
Where is the homeless woman now? How she must miss her little dog.
These questions, these thoughts, these contradictory feelings. I notice myself having them all, one after another. I notice how my mind can always find something to think about, even when my body has now, once again, been plugged into the Love of the universe as it flows through our blessed, precious dogs.