Wednesday, May 27, 2009

WHEN I WASN'T THE BETTER PERSON

I met Flora and her mother when I volunteered with the Special Olympics in Florida. I was assigned to Flora as her "hugger" which meant I would take her to the various events, make sure she participated and gave her a big hug and lots of praise when she finished each event. This was a cool job. Flora was mildly disabled mentally and was a pretty good athlete. She surprised me with her shy sense of humor and we hit it off immediately.


I met her mother Sally at that event also. Sally was also mildly disabled mentally. She and her boyfriend were farm laborers who lived and worked year round in Florida. Sally declared me her sister and Flora's aunt that day. We became friends and would visit briefly a couple times a month. I always brought treats for Flora and Sally who lead pretty meager lives.


One day when I visited, Sally was beyond happy. Someone had given her a minuscule chihuahua. This was the smallest dog I had ever seen. Sissy was a 2 and 1/2 pound, long haired, tooth pick legged, yapper. For as tiny as she was, she made a fierce racket. All I could think when I saw her was "better thee than me."


About a month later, Sally called me quite upset. She was having to move out of town and where they were going wouldn't take dogs. She wanted me to take Sissy. "You are the only one I would trust her with." she added making it impossible to say no.

I was in the middle of starting an animal rescue business and didn't need a yappy little dog but out of friendship, I took her.


Sorry it is an old picture and not too good. I was too busy in those days for photography. Sorry now I didn't take the time.



Few people like chihuahuas till they own one. Exactly when she crawled inside my heart, I couldn't say, but she did. Suddenly the yappiness was unimportant. She became MY dog. She challenged all human and animals for my attention.



At that time I also owned a 180 pound Great Dane. Loki and Sissy were my only pets, the rest of my animals were dogs to rebuild and find homes for. Sissy was not intimidated by Loki who was 72 times her size and he walked like he was on egg shells around her. They weren't companions but tolerated each other.


I had Sissy about 6 months when Sally came back to town. One morning she caught me filling up at a service station. She said she was back in town and excitedly told me she could take Sissy off my hands now. I was stunned. I thought I had been given Sissy, not just taking care of her. I stammered, hemmed and hawed and finally with tears in my eyes and words choking in my throat, I asked where she was living. I told her I would bring Sissy by the next day which was Saturday. I was sick at heart the whole day. I would cry, suck it up, then cry again. I was not handling this well.



When I got back to the office at the end of the day, there was a note on my desk from Sally. It said 'I see how you are hurting. Please keep Sissy and love her enough for both of us.' It was signed, your sister. The relief was overwhelming.


I had many dogs, Loki whom I adored, plus my rescues. Sally and Flora had no dogs and a rather bleak life. Were I the better person, I would have insisted that she take Sissy back but I wasn't and I didn't. She so out classed me that day. I accepted her gift gratefully if guiltily.


I asked Sally and Flora to come out to the shelter and pick out any dog they wanted. They selected a handsome little chihuahua named Bucky that I had rescued. I was ashamed of my relief when Sissy barked at her that day and would not let Sally pick her up. How small can you get? I did not like me but couldn't stop me.


Sissy stayed glued to me for 14 years till her tiny heart gave out. I think of her still and selfishly am so glad I wasn't the better person that day.


13 comments :

  1. A heart rending story. You write very well!Thanks for sharing, Patti. Have a great day!

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  2. Dear Patti,
    I like your posting so much.
    Sometimes I have little(or BIG!) problems to understans. Of couse I can use dictionery, BUT....is'int to much to ask you to put translations possibility on your site.
    My french is better and I can change the language for that if it's someting I don't read well in english.
    Hugs
    Blue

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  3. As an unabased dog lover, I understand.

    Having said that, I would hate to part with Luckie. I try not to think about the day I may have to to make some decision to part wit her, either because of her old age, or my old age.

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  4. But, Patti - don't you think it worked out well for everyone? Probably that was the way it was supposed to be - so don't feel guilty.

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  5. Oh Patti, as a fellow dog lover I think I understand. It sounds like things turned out well for all concerned. Great post.

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  6. What a story, patti. I think it worked out well for everyone, but I understand your inner questioning about it. It surprises me that Sissy barked at Sally. That tells me a lot.

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  7. What a sweet story! Both you and your friends had big hearts.. yours for sorrowfully agreeing to give Sissy back to them, theirs for seeing the love you had for Sissy and leaving her with you.

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  8. This is such a sweet and poignant story, too...Sissy was darling--bad picture or not...I can see how she would crawl into your heart in a minute! And I can also see that it would be near impossible to give her up!
    A blogger friend in Florida, CHICKIE, has two dogs, and they both are just delightful to read about. One, Tiny Dog, is a little Chi like Sissy...I have fallen in love with BOTH these dogs, just through Chickie's pictures and her story's, too....

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  9. Reader,
    Thank you. I just wish I turned out better in it.

    Blue,
    I am trying to set up a translator but the ones I have tried are complex and I can't get the simple ones to add on. I'll keep trying. Have patience with me.

    Nitwit,
    I understand about you and Luckie. I worry about making Mighty an orphan. I know for that reason, I won't replace him if he has to leave me. Kind of worry about my cats as those rascles live into their 20's.

    Kenju
    I know it worked out best for Sissy as Sally's boyfriend ran over the little dog I gave them. It could have been Sissy. Still,my heart was wrong that day.

    Brighid,
    Thank you. As a fellow dog lover, you can truly understand how attached we get.

    Robin,
    It was probably just the time they were apart and she just didn't recognize her. I know it really hurt Sally at the time. It would have killed me to have my dog snarl at me. Hopefully it was not something Sally had earned.

    Pat,
    Sally did have the bigger heart. However I would not trade those years with Sissy for a clear conscience.

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  10. That's a nice story. It shows how true bonds take time, ... and are hard to break once you form them.

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  11. You are a good writer and make a good story and when dogs are involved it always brings a tear or two. I love dogs. And I would have loved these two.

    You need to tell how easy or how hard it is to start a dog rescue business. And some of the problems.

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  12. What a sweet story, Patti. I still think you need to write---write a book or stories. You are an incredible writer. I like to write --but am not a storyteller like you. I ALWAYS like your blog.

    We do get attached to our pets, don't we??? They become our 'kids'---and it's hard to give them up.. Even though my life is full ---I do miss my sons so very very much. They all have their own lives now---and I have a hard time fitting into them now.

    Glad you had your tiny baby for so many years!!!!

    Hugs,
    Betsy

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  13. OOLOH
    Thank you. I never was a fan of small dogs till Sissy. She made me a believer in those little ones. Chickie is lucky to have TWO little ones.

    Robert
    Thanks, I know once she got to me, there was no turning back. I wasn't strong enough to break it.

    Abe,
    Thanks for the kind words. I will probably post about the shelter in the future. The two biggest pitfalls are getting your heart broken and your bank account destroyed. Other than that, it was a wonderful time in my life.

    Thank you Betsy. I do love to write and tell stories. The beauty of blogging is that is is not a solitary occupation like serious writing. The quick response from wonderful readers like I have been blessed with is so very satisfying. I learn every day from you all.

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