What happened with the dog

I've waited nearly a year to type this out to you. 

In the summer of 2016, a month before my birthday, my mom and my step dad at the time, brought me to a farm where a mama golden retriever had given birth to a litter of puppies. 

In the bunch, was one for me as a birthday gift. 

The mom's name was Cleo, which was the name of my beloved dog who had passed away 2 years prior to this moment, cue us, visiting the farm. I still keep a picture of Cleo and I in my current home. I loved her so much. Of course, I took this to be some kind of magical sign from the heavens that Cleo was leading me to. 

Although I was extremely smitten by the entire idea and literally swooned at the thought of having a fur ball of love at arm's reach at any time, I thought it was a bad idea. I really did.

First of all, I didn't know where I'd be in a year or two... I've moved 3 times since then by the way. My boyfriend lived in another country. I knew I didn't want to live in Montreal much longer. My health was not optimal and work and feeding myself took all of my energy. It truly wasn't the right time for me to raise and keep a puppy. 

I have a rare talent of accessing my own capacity before saying yes or no to things. My mom does not posses even 1 % of that talent. 

My parents told me that they already had thought this through, and this was going to be a family dog. I could sleep with him and use him for the cuddles, where as they would take care of the rest. If I wanted to take him with me when I moved, I could, but if I didn't, they'd keep him. 

To give you a snippet of our living arrangements at the time...my mom and I lived together in a shared apartment. Mario, her boyfriend, basically lived there with us, but they pretended it was unofficial to avoid pissing me off too much. Home boy had his entire life in our 2-bedroom- as if I didn't know. My boyfriend at the time, Samuel, was also living with us for chunks of time as well. It was a weird set up, I know. The stuff you have to do when you are recovering from chronic illness. Commence eye roll. 

The agreement about the dog sounded too good to be true right? So I sat them down, and told them my fears which were the following: 

1) What happens if you guys break up and then you give away the dog because of it?

2) What if then mom, you put the responsibility of owning the dog onto me because you don't want it anymore? 

And this is what they told me... 

They assured me that they would never break up. They had plans to get married within the next year.

They broke up in November of 2016. About six months after this conversation happened.

They assured me that if (and only if) they did happen to break up, my mom would keep the dog and take care of his bills and basic needs. The responsibility would not fall on me.

My mom did this from November of 2016 to May of 2017. At the very end of this timelines is when she decided to adopt him out without letting me know.

They assured me that this was supposed to be a blessing, and that I should just smile and accept it because life is good.

My fears all happened within 11 months of having the dog in our care. But I wanted to trust that they weren't going to come true. I wanted to trust that my mom wasn't going to drop the ball on this or pull the rug from underneath me. I wanted to have a different relationship with her and with my life. So what did I do? I named the dog Trust. Yep. That's how badly I wanted things to be okay. 

I would love to say that I predicted the situation with a sophisticated psychic wit, but really, the hunch came from having observed my moms patterns for my whole life. 

I knew if she got this dog, she was going to give him away, and of course in a sudden way, when he didn't fit her purpose for existing anymore. Most likely if and when her and her boyfriend broke up. Then, she would blame it on my step dad for screwing her over, or on having no money, etc. 

I was fully aware that she got the dog because she wanted me to depend on her less, and depend on the dog more for comfort through working through my PTSD. So if and when she saw the dog didn't magically cure my PTSD, and she didn't have her ex's help enlisted, I doubted she would want to keep up with the commitment. 

I attempted to voice my fears and talk this over in a real way, but it wasn't heard. It was actually taken and then completely rejected as a delusion. 

And well... if I wanted to keep the dog should all of this happen, I was sure that could be an option, but then I would be responsible for all the things I said I wasn't comfortable taking on. All the things they assured me I wouldn't have to take on. So I would be left with two choices at the end of the day if the course of action went as predicted: 

1) Take the dog as my own and keep him in unideal circumstances without support when I clearly stated I did not want to commit to this for obvious reasons...

or 

2) Lose a great love of my life that my mom would introduce to me and then rip away from me on her own timing due to her lack of capacity...

I told myself if she ever tried to give him away, I would choose # 1 because # 2 would be too painful, and I'd figure out a way to make it work. 

Sadly, when she began the process of giving him away from adoption, placing him in new homes until there was a match, I was in heavy duty pharmaceutical withdrawal without the basic ability to walk to the stop sign or make myself food. 

I was in no shape to take care of myself, and in fact, my boyfriend at the time was feeding me to ensure I stayed alive. 

There was no way I could keep a dog, but parting with him seemed impossible. 

I begged and begged to be able to keep him in all sorts of different ways. Sam felt like it was an impossible task to keep him throughout the instability of our current lives. I hoped I would feel better so that I could care for him and I looked into possible foster homes with a lot of flexibility. I paid for extra long day care fees, but at the end of the day, he was my mom's dog. She was his owner and what she said was what mattered. So, she didn't want to let me keep him because she felt I was unfit to care for him, and she did not want to keep him either. 

The one thing she allowed me to do was go say goodbye to him at his new potential home before she transferred ownership. When I got there, I felt completely panicked and could not leave him there. It was smaller than our apartment and he was a big one-year old golden. Truthfully, I hated the lifestyle the couple who wanted to adopt him lived. 

Samuel convinced me to leave and kept telling me he was okay. I refused to let it go, and I howled until I nearly fainted in hopes that my mom would agree to give me the chance to give him away to a better home, she granted that wish and gave me 24 hours. Probably thinking I wasn't going to make this happen. If I didn't get him a home in that time period, then the deal was off, meaning I didn't have a say. It was one of the most traumatic ways to handle the situation, but there was no changing her mind, so my focus was simply on getting Trust stability as far as I could judge he would get it. 

I put out a 9/11 on social media. I need help, who can take my dog or adopt him? I'm in a tough situation and I need him to be safe and in a good home ASAP. The answers that came flooding in were positively overwhelming, and it was hard to decide which person to go toward in such a limited and scary timeline, so I went with the logic criteria I was looking for in a healthy dog home in the best way that I could. 

In the morning, Sam and I went to get the dog and I spent one last day with him until my friend Kayla* came to pick him up to bring him home to her doggy kingdom.

The day of the adoption, Kayla was very loving toward me and assured me she was the best mom for him. I just wanted him to have stability and a home with other dogs. Most importantly, I wanted to give him to someone who wouldn't give him away, and would keep him for the long haul. I knew Kayla had the means and the experience to take good care of him, and the fact that she wanted to adopt him on a whim like this, sure was a bit crazy, but she had been admiring him since I had had him in my life. I knew she would fight for his wellness in the way I wish I could have. 

I gave her the papers and my mom transferred his ownership to her later that week.

There were so many moments about the whole ordeal that haunted me. Like when he looked me right in the eyes when Sam lifted him into Kayla's car, as though he was asking, but why? 

And I had to nuzzle my face into his ears and say, "Just please enjoy your life okay?" 

About 2 months into the adoption, I messaged Kayla and asked if she would consider giving me back Trust. I had moved to my dad's where there was a huge yard and I was going to get my own place with a yard and a beautiful lifestyle for him. He helped me and the PTSD I experienced so much that I could literally not imagine life without him. I was in grief like I had never known it. Truly. 

I could not properly make my decision in June when I gave him away. I was too sick. I wanted to be the mom he deserved if she was open to it and I wanted to train him as a service dog for my chronic illness issues. 

Kayla was not happy about this and she told me what was what. 

Of course, she didn't know the full story, but she made me feel like I didn't care for Trust and I didn't have his best intention at heart, and that I only cared about myself in the situation. 

This was absolutely not true... But... 

I see where she was coming from. I missed him so much that I didn't care that he had a good life there and that he was well. I couldn't even imagine that he was happy without me, because I wasn't happy without him. 

Kayla and I stopped communication per her request because she felt like I was having too much of a hold on him if she kept me in his life. She was his mom now, I selected her as such, and she made that clear through a pretty firm boundary. 

So, I had to let it go. I couldn't do anything to bring us back together in a legal way. It was the hardest thing I've ever had to do. I'm not sure if he still lives with Kayla. I haven't seen her post a picture of him in a while, and I'm too scared to ask, or look into it further. I also know that she probably wouldn't answer me if I did message her. 

There was a time during this past winter where I would battle my grief by typing out messages to her that I would never send. Asking her why she would make me the promises she made and break them by (potentially) giving him away. 

I just hope if he's not with her anymore, he is with a better fit, and I do trust (haha) that she wouldn't let him be anywhere that wouldn't be optimal. After all, she even judged me as incapable of giving him the best life. So that was saying something. She cared about him and that's why I picked her. I wanted someone to fight and care and protect him with all their will. 

Of course, this meant, I lost him in the process because I couldn't be that for him at this time in my life. And my mom sure as hell couldn't. Neither could her boyfriend. 

Trust deserved better. I wish I could of done better for him. I wish he never had to go through us first. 

What was very hard for me was that I felt like it was a bad idea, I had fears and they all happened because the people I was relying on weren't stable. 

I don't know things like if his name is still Trust. And I have to be okay with that. And believe me, I spent months not being okay with that, waking up in the middle of the night in a panic because I think he is suffering and it's all my fault. 

I've had to tell myself over and over again that I never wanted this in the first place, that this was not my fault, and this was the responsibility of both my mom and her ex boyfriend. 

I did the best I could to find him an appropriate home where his needs would be met, handing him to someone who would find him the best home, even if it wasn't with them. 

I've had to do a lot of work of separating myself from the situation. He was my mom's dog and she handled it the way she did, and that isn't my fault. I was a love of his throughout his life and he was a love throughout mine. 

I miss him a lot. It's passing though lately. I can miss him and drop it. I can pet other dogs and not want to combust into a puddle of grief. Before, I missed him in that way that made me question if my heart still knew how to beat now that we weren't together anymore. 

There is something particularly hard about grieving a being that is still alive. When a person or an animal dies, they die. They're gone and we can only hope that they find their way to the heavens where they are safe, but when we have to separate from a being that is still alive... we don't know for sure that the world is going to keep them safe, and we blame ourselves for that. 

I will always love him and even if I don't get to be in his life or even know how or where he is, I hope he is well every day and that the world keeps him safe. 

*Name of Kayla has been changed to keep privacy. 

Emily Aube