“Jesus, take the wheel; take it from my hands ‘cuz I can’t do this on my own, I’m letting go. Give me one more chance. Save me from this road I’m on. Jesus, take the wheel”; Carrie Underwood’s voice wakes me in the morning, and I am reminded to start my day in prayer, to start my day in surrender and trust. Then, I walk out of my bedroom, see Sam and Thorin wagging their tails, and all of the responsibility and stress drops back on my shoulders.
“Lexi, get up and take the dogs O U T,” I holler into her room before taking my Reliv vitamins and making coffee. “Laina, get the cats and their litter, water, and food, and take it all back into my room.” I fill my water bottles and make lunch. “Oh, and remember to give the cats fresh water and food. And, be sure to scoop the litter box and put the mess in the outside trash.” I place the skillet on the stove, turn on the burner, and crack three eggs. “Lex, get up now! The dogs need to go O U T! Lane-Lane, get up and get the cats!”
Ten minutes and five yells later, Laina rolls out of bed and walks into the kitchen where I hand her a glass of Reliv Now for Kids (vitamins in a chocolate shake). She drinks it and then heads for the shower.
Another five minutes and more yells later, Lexi exits her room with her Jesus Calling devotion and says she needs to eat before taking the dogs out. When I see her Bible, I say, “Read Deuteronomy 23:5. It was a good verse from class yesterday.”
“…will turn your curses into blessings because I love you.” Lexi reads. “That’s the same thing as Jesus Calling today and exactly the message I needed to hear right now. I’ve had a bad attitude and been worrying too much. I’m not getting enough sleep and am too tired.”
I hand her a vitamin shake and ask, “What’s going on? Is your ear still hurting?”
“Yes. And, I think I’ve been holding onto too much.” She drinks it and eats some cereal.
“If you’ve got an ear infection, you should stay home today.”
“I’ll get too far behind. I’m so tired, but I’ve gotta go to school.”
“Poor dogs’ll be home alone all day then. Let’s talk more tonight. Today, remember the verse and hold on to God’s promise.” Lexi takes the dogs on a quick walk. I set out fresh food and water for the dogs.
We all get ready, Lexi leaving first, rushing to the bus stop. I leave next to drive to Palm Bay for work. Laina takes the dogs on another walk and has to secure them before rushing to the bus. Sam slinks away, hiding beneath the dining room table, and she has to drag him into the bathroom and leave him whining, alone with a rawhide bone. Thorin plants himself firm, refusing to budge, and she has to pick him up and force him into the kennel. He tilts his head and gazes at her, howling in sadness. She pushes the door against the wall, covers half with a blanket, and pushes a bench against the other end (all ideas from friends).
For the second time, we are leaving them home alone while we go to school and work. On Monday, I worked on finding a foster home for the dogs in between grading creative writing papers and taking the dogs on walks. I even took them to my friend’s backyard to run and play for a couple of hours while I swam and hung up with my friend.
Every time someone suggested that I research Lab Rescue places and I read the word “surrender,” I cringed and looked away. I couldn’t consider filling out a form to give up our dogs. I couldn’t contemplate driving them someplace and dropping them off forever. The thought is repulsive. Repugnant. But so is this frantic lifestyle we are now living. I am so far behind with work. We all are.
That evening, I dropped Lexi off at her job and realized that the day was over and we still had the dogs, which meant we’d have to leave them home alone the next day. I couldn’t breathe and my heart pounded. No, no, no. My muscles tensed, and anxiety spiked. I didn’t want them to destroy our property or our condo. The continued, added responsibility pressed on my chest, and I just wanted to cry.
They dogs are sad, we are exhausted, the cats are angry…it’s not working, and we have to make a change. I took a deep breath as I accepted the truth I didn’t want to face: we were going to have to find them a forever home. We were going to give them up. I felt heartbroken but at peace about the decision. At the same time I wondered, what kind of horrible person am I decide to give my dogs away and to be at peace about it?
As I prayed that evening, I realized that the most important thing is that they are happy, that we are happy. We have to do whatever’s best for all of us. That is what I am praying for now. Yes, I wish I could find a way to keep them, but I can’t hold onto them if it’s in their best interest to let them go, if it’s what’s best for them.