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July 8, 2014

A few weeks ago, a 3-month-old puppy appeared in my Facebook newsfeed. Cue instant yearning — even though I’m nowhere near ready and she was about 900 miles away. I squealed. I shared her pix. My friends encouraged me. Adopt. Adopt. ADOPT, they told me. Something about her face called to me. Something in her eyes beckoned. I convinced myself it meant something.

adoptable puppyEmotionally and logistically it was complicated. Tom agreed she was PERFECT, but …

We’re too far away, I told myself. They’re probably flooded with applications. I have NO chance, according to the naysayer in my head. Still, I found myself obsessed. I couldn’t stop thinking about her. A week later, Tom gave me the OK to inquire via email about her. I knew in my heart it was futile, but I decided it was important for me to try. At least, try.

(The greater story, after all, is about what happens when things don’t work out as expected.)

The next day her adoption profile disappeared from the rescue site. They posted a photo of her new dad on Facebook. I. Was. Devastated.

It makes no sense. I know.

I’ve come to realize it was a fantasy. Not just about the puppy herself, but of just getting in the car and GOING — an escape fantasy, I suppose:

  • Going away from the grief-fueled frustration that drops a heavy veil of F#(& It! over my days.
  • Going away from the heartbreak that hangs like a droplet of water, poised to flood my life with what was.
  • Going away from the stress of climbing out of the financial pit caused by Lilly’s long illness (while my income has fallen).
  • Going away from myself, even though I know in my head that there is no geographic solution to the grief — because wherever you go, there you are

us map graphic

So, that’s the story of the puppy who almost was. I’ll probably never forget her face. I’ll probably always feel sad that she couldn’t be mine. It’s simply much more complicated than sad girl + sweet puppy.


So far, I haven’t received a reply to my email.


About the Author Roxanne Hawn

Trained as a traditional journalist and based in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, USA, I'm a full-time freelance writer for magazines, websites, and private clients. My areas of specialty include everything in the lifestyles arena, including health and home, personal finance and other consumer interests, relationships and trends, people and business profiles ... and, of course, all things pet related.

I don't just love dogs. I need them in my life. Seriously.

  1. If I has seen that pic I probably would have jumped on it as well, she looks so much like the heart dog that changed my life so significantly 18 years ago and started me on the path to Border Collie Rescue and ultimately owning/operating a dog boarding kennel. I lost her in 2010 at almost 15 yrs of age and the special spot she will always occupy in my heart still aches at times.

    I just read your Parvo blog and look forward to reading more!

  2. Roxanne, you’re not running escaping anything but there’s a dog trying to catch up with you from behind. When he or she finally reaches you you’ll turn around and recognize your new old friend.

  3. Sending giant hugs… I can totally relate. Ready? When? Who knows? I can’t even process that idea yet.

    However, maybe this adorable pup is just one piece of the puzzle… she got you to start thinking about the possibility of adopting again, and that’s not an insignificant thing. When the time is right, it will happen. (Right? Obviously, I’m commenting to myself and you at the same time. If you need anything, please do not hesitate to let me know. I’ve got an empathetic shoulder available.)

    1. Thanks. I know you understand. We just have to stick together until we can figure things out. It’s just so hard. Some days, I just want to crawl out of my own skin … I’m just so sick of feeling so sad.

  4. I lost my two special dogs in a period of 2 years and for the first time in my life, I didn’t have a dog…the only 2 legged critter I had was my precious cockatiel Murphey…I truly felt like there was a whole in my soul and a huge dark cloud hanging over me….My life was actually out of balance….and I didn’t know who I was in the big picture anymore if that makes sense! While I was floundering along I went to several pet adoption events because that is the only way I roll now…. Several times I saw an animal that I knew I would love….but time after time I went home empty handed…. then on the spur of the moment I went to our local animal shelter which was something I never did because it was not a NO kill shelter….but that day it was as if I was drawn there… the very end of the kennels…separate and alone was an Australian shepherd mix…thin but beautiful…I looked in her eyes and our souls connected…. She has been with me 13 years and is truly My Number One Heart Dog!!! She was on a three day hold because she was owner surrender…but I wouldn’t leave without her….She filled the hole in my heart to overflowing!!! <3 You are a step closer and I believe Lilly is helping!

    1. Great points, Donna. So many people end up returning dogs because they really are not ready. I ask Lilly all the time to help me with the grief. I hope she can hear me.

  5. Perhaps the puppy that never was was simply meant to be another step on your journey through grief. The simple fact that you felt SOMETHING when you saw her on Facebook, to me, means that your heart may have healed even just a little bit. Even though this puppy wasn’t “the one,” for those few days, you entertained the thought of opening your heart and your life to another dog. That is no small step. I’ve found that faith is an integral part of grief – and such a hard thing to maintain in the face of so much pain and sadness. The right dog will come at the right time, in the right way. Be gentle wit yourself.

  6. When my Maltese, Angel, died, we decided not to even to begin to look for a dog until we came home from our 10 year anniversary trip. My husband was insistent that we not have to worry about boarding a dog while we were gone. I was so terribly depressed from the day we lost her on April 28 until that day in July. It was the first time in my entire life I had been completely without a dog in my home. On July 12, we went to look at a pick up truck that was for sale. We knew in an instant we didn’t want the truck, but their dog was another matter. We spent maybe an hour playing with this cute little mini-dachshund. “She usually doesn’t like anyone,” the woman told us. I hated leaving her. A week later, the woman called and asked if we wanted the dog, she had been their son’s dog and they had gotten rid of her because she didn’t get along well with their kids. We weren’t ready, we would have to make arrangements for her to stay someplace during our trip. But even my husband jumped at the chance. For 9 years, we had Hershey, and she filled the empty spot that I didn’t think any dog could fill again. The right dog will come along for you Roxanne, at the right time. Even if you don’t think you’re ready.

    1. Thanks, Kerri. I love that story. We have SO much we need to do around here, after so many years of giving everything we have to others.

  7. Indeed complicated. I wonder too how I could feel in general not ready at all, and still Tilde conquered mind and heart in the blink of an eye. It has all settled more now, but I have been worrying along the way, if it was not too impulsive. So far, so good.

    1. Well, Tilde is awesome, and it sounds like the adoption went smoothly. Often here, that’s not the case. The adoption processes / policies are often complicated … so that alone could delay things for us. We know ourselves pretty well, so I’m pretty sure I can control my impulses.

  8. Sometimes there are no words to give with a loss so great… all I can do is listen and nod my head. But, I do hope you don’t miss an opportunity because of guilt that you are giving up your hold on Lilly to begin a new journey with a new puppy. You will always have Lilly’s memories in a permanent place in your heart – nothing will replace that. 🙂

    1. Thanks, Debra. I try to believe that if it’s meant to be, then it will work out. And, if I miss an opportunity … well, then it will be my fault, and I accept that. That’s real life.

  9. If I had to make a guess, you are yearning for a new beginning. The right time and the right pup will come along. I know how much you’re thinking of Ginko, not wanting to stress him with a pup at this point in his life. I’m sure that creates quite conflicted feelings for you. New beginnings do a lot for lifting the heart but Ginko comes first right now.

  10. I am so sorry for your loss and that this puppy didn’t work out. I think when you’re really ready the right pup will be waiting. 🙂 ~hugs~

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