It’s been a week since I was separated from Phoenix for a night. Of course I survived it but I still did not like being away from him one iota. So, here is the much too delayed followup from the post I wrote about here. Read that first if you didn’t catch it last weekend.
After getting busted at the fence by my own dog I did peek out the sliding glass door until about 11:30 or so until I saw their lights go off. I sighed and the worry and thinking started to set in. Yes, my brain and thoughts are always going a mile a minute.
Was he missing me? Was he confused and maybe didn’t realize that he had asked to spend the entire night versus just several hours of playtime? Gawd, does he think I abandoned him? Where would he sleep? Would they give him his 2 treats at bedtime like I instructed? Would they make sure to not give him any sort of people food as he can get a really bad case of colitis? Yes, this would be a long night.
There was no way I could sleep and one constructive thing I chose to do was to write that post last Saturday night. I went through a bunch of his pictures as I played music on the computer. 10 years of habit and I continually looked for him to see what he was doing. He wasn’t there. I eventually posted the story around 5 a.m. Sunday morning. I thought I could wait up until 8 a.m. when they agreed that they would bring him back home.
At 6:30 a.m. I finally hit that proverbial brick wall where a person cannot avoid sleep any more without some sort of altering substance (i.e. caffeine of which I don’t drink at all). I was sooo worried, even in my tiny house, of not hearing their knock on the door from being too tired. Instead of going to bed I grabbed a pillow and laid down on the couch right by the door. My head sank deep into my pillow and I quickly drifted off for a doze around 7 a.m.
At 9:30 a.m. I woke up and still being incredibly tired I was a bit disoriented. I often stay up all night on the weekends writing and continue on into the next day with only a few hours sleep. But, what my senses immediately detected was that my dog was not there. And then a split second later I realized they had not brought him back home at the agreed upon 8 a.m. time and I panicked! Last week I revealed my Separation Anxiety. Now, it would be my Fear of Abandonment. Gone supersonic.
When I was a very young boy my mom left without an explanation that I could understand. I was 7 years old but old enough to know she left with words from her that I had done something wrong. It was never her intention I learned so very many years later. I yearned more than anything to be close to people. No, not in a clingy way but in an accepting and deep trusting manner.
So, have I had a hard time in this lifetime being close to people? Yes. Have I done my best to push right past that self-imposed stigma to persevere each day? Absolutely. Well, then I got a continual test over the next 40 plus years to see if I could stand my ground. People left when I never saw it coming. Sometimes I did nothing wrong and other times I would sabotage the relationship (friendships included) before they could hurt me. I become more and more aware of life’s realities and my self-awareness became acutely in tune with exactly who I am. And one of the most important words of life wisdom I can ever pass on to another. Look in the mirror and know who you are. Literally. I do it daily.
Then ten years ago this melting-heart cute, but very obnoxious, 8 week old Golden Retriever came home with me on a very stormy evening. The weather was like a precursor to our lives together. He looked up at me smugly, “What’s up?” I replied back, “I really want and need you in my life.” And him, “Well, I do too. It’s me and you…forever. But dude, you are a mess. We will get it figured out.” And so it began.
Hence my attachment to Phoenix. This sweet soul would always stand by me with all of my shortcomings. Gawd knows I have plenty of them. Little did I know the profound effect he would have on me. He has taught me to allow myself to be close to people, to open up and that it’s ok to make mistakes. If I do make mistakes to apologize sincerely from the deepest part of my heart and soul. And to always give to other’s as he has given to me. I have done exactly that. And today I’ve really come a long way but it’s still a work in progress.
It’s either opening up with my readers or you think I’m total loon. That’s up to you to decide.
I had slept in my sweats and V-neck t-shirt. I sat up and put my glasses on as I was trying to immediately clear my groggy head. I was in alarm mode and I fumbled into my slippers that were at my feet. I slapped on my ball cap, grabbed my cell phone, house keys and headed next door. There were a whole slew of thoughts running through my head, “Had they kidnapped him? Maybe they flew off to Bulgaria and all of them joined the circus! I wonder what attraction Phoenix would be. Maybe The Talking, Smart-Ass Golden Retriever. Would he make good money at it? Ut oh, I forgot to pee before I started walking over here.” Lordy, I was deliriously tired.
I was coming up their walkway and as I passed by one of the open bedroom windows I could hear Elizabeth. She was reading some sort of story out loud. I knocked on the door and rang the doorbell. Grandma from Bulgaria answered.
I was scowling, “You said you would have him home at 8 a.m.”
She was smiling and waved me inside not having a clue as to what I just said. She continued to just look at me like I had 10 heads on my shoulders because she speaks only a few words of English.
I looked at her, looked down at my watch, tapping it with my forefinger, “ 8 a.m… Phoenix home.”
Grandma said, “Oh Phoenix…ya, ya. Elizabeth! Phoenix!”
I heard Phoenix come rumbling out of the bedroom and he headed towards me. I was overcome with the most excitement ever in my life from missing another soul. I could see that Golden Retriever smile beaming across this face. I stretched my arms out to greet him and I hollered with all the joy in my heart, ”Phoenix!!! I missed you!!”
You know those most amazing, happiest moments of reunions you’ve ever seen on tv and the internet when soldiers come home from overseas? And the part where they are gleefully greeted by their dog??
Ya, that didn’t happen.
He slowed down, then sat, and looked at me, “Oh hey Dad. What’s up?”
Me, “I love you and missed you terribly!!” Whenever I get home I always get down on my knees, hug him and saying those exact same words.
He was all of a sudden nonchalant and just sat there looking at me, “I missed you too. Is something wrong?”
Me, “No, I just…”
And he cut me off, “Good, I’m going back to the bedroom because we are reading a really cool story!”
REALLY??!! That’s it??!!
Ok, apparently I was the only one in this scenario who had envisioned that long lost love movie scene for my dog. *sigh*
Elizabeth came out of the bedroom and saw me. Good, finally my little 6 year old English translator!
I began the interrogation, “You were supposed to have him home to me at 8 a.m.”
I continued, “So, how did it go?!”
Ok, this kid was going to need some pinching like in the gansta’ days to get some more detailed answers out of her.
Phoenix just continued to sit there listening to the conversation like he was watching a tennis match at center court.
I began to scowl again wanting more detailed answers, and I asked, “Where did he sleep?”
We were standing in the front entryway and she pointed down at my feet by the front door, “There…”
I exclaimed back, “He slept right here at the front door?!”
She said, “Ya…” in another long one word confession.
I looked at Phoenix, “So you missed me and were wanting to come home all night to be with me!”
He rolled his eyes, “No. This house is really warm and that’s the only place where there was cool tile to sleep.”
Hmmph! Well ok, that did make sense because, except for bedtime, he frequently sleeps on the tile in the front entryway. Just not at bedtime.
I felt like there was a lot of impatience around the three of them with me being there. Ok, the fatigue was obviously causing the unfounded paranoia.
Then Elizabeth looked at me with an assertive question as he also stared at me, “Can Phoenix spend the night again tonight?”
In all of about .000437 seconds I said, “NO.”
Phoenix looked up at her shrugging his shoulders, “Sorry, kiddo.”
She looked down at him and gave him a big love and a kiss.
He was still reluctant to leave and I pulled out my ace. It was 9:45 a.m. and he had not eaten his breakfast which he gets like clockwork at 7:45 a.m.’ish every, single morning.
So, I said, “Phoenix, are you hungry?” Those words are like announcing the winning lottery numbers.
He immediately spun around, trotted all the way to me, and leaned up against me to be petted. His tail was waggin’ a mile a minute.
Me to him, “Ya, that’s right who’s your Daddy…”
Gawd, I missed this…
We went for a drive and a walk…
And played with his Chuckit! Frisbee…
Then we had some quality time bonding…
Well here, let me try again…
Ok, he was just a wee bit cranky from a long time of playing and being tired. He’s allowed to sleep on my bed when he wishes but he does not sleep with me. So, I let him have what he really wanted. Sleeping on his Daddy’s bed…
Best kid ever…