I never really wanted a dog, but K. did. So we looked far and wide at shelters, pet adoption sites and pet shops until we found Leila. I thought that a dog would be good for K. He would have a companion and something that needed him. He’d been feeling depressed about not being able to work and felt he was not contributing to the family in the way he should. A dog would give him a reason to get out of bed every day. At that point I would have bought him anything that brought him joy, so if he wanted a dog then he would get a dog.
Leila quickly became a part of the family, but K. was the one who trained her and took care of her. I was the default dog nanny when K. was too ill to walk her or play with her. When he was that sick he worried that Leila would become attached to me and not want to be with him. He wanted me to help with Leila but would get angry when I did. I tried to allay his fears but this issue seemed tied to his feelings about not being a productive member of society.
Now I have a dog. I’ve always been more of a cat person. They are less needy. On The Big Bang Theory, Amy Farah Fowler calls cats “the epitome of indifference.” You can leave them with a bowl of food, water and the cat box for a few days if you are travelling and they are just fine. When you get back they will give you that heavy-lidded look that says “oh, you’re back” and proceed to go back to napping in the sun.
A dog. Walks, feeding, scooping poop. A dog that really never rode in the car except to the vet. Never really socialized with other dogs. So I started in. I walked her. I can’t tell if she knows K. is gone. We frequented one dog park but the dogs are a little over enthusiastic for Leila. We found another one, and a strange thing happened. While I was focused on walking Leila I started noticing things around me: the ducks, the palm trees, a woodpecker. I can see these things. Oh, this is good, I can see something beyond my bubble of pain.