Day One: the ride home

As I pull away from the shelter, I call Sara. I’m so excited. My heart revs along with the engine. It is raining. I cannot text and drive and be mindful of the rain and the dogs and the shifting crate behind me.

“I just wanted a witness,” I say. “I am currently driving home. I was not eaten by dogs at the shelter. If I disappear, be suspicious.”

Sara laughs. She, too, is excited and can’t wait to meet the three dogs who were supposed to be just one dog. Just one dog. I’d promised my husband, Kerry, I would take my time with this venture, that I’d exercise restraint. He’d grinned at me, knowing better, but, ever indulgent, agreed “that would be good.”

“I think it will be okay. Kerry’s cool. And I’ll help if you guys need a break or get overwhelmed,” Sara says.

A lot of people of people would say something like that as an offering of support. Sara actually means it. She is the rare breed of human whose pack includes equal parts family and friends, who will drop everything to help in an emergency, who doesn’t expect praise or presents in return for her efforts. Luckily for me, she’s pretty tickled with a spot of tea. When my Grandmother had been hospitalized last Spring and I’d taken off for Oklahoma at a moment’s notice, eventually staying for an entire month for hospice care, Sara had packed up herself and Princess Mocha (her lovely chocolate Lab) and moved in to take care of our dogs and our house. AND! She’s my boss. I teach yoga at her studio. She covered every class during my absence.

So, here I was, racing Northwards toward home, the Mini Cooper zipping between raindrops. The dogs were perfect. I was beside myself. I hadn’t thought this was possible after the resistance I’d met. I’d been told the dogs didn’t meet the criteria for fostering. By my rationale, every dog should be eligible for fostering, but I understood that any publicly run shelter had its bureaucracy and I had no beef with the folks at the shelter. They hadn’t made the rules for people like me – they’d made the rules for people who abused the system. Frankly, these folks are the best I’ve encountered in the public shelter system.

Too elated at first blush to register the reality of what I was doing, as I pulled into the driveway and sat for a moment in the soft grey quiet, a tiny stab of fear caught me off guard. But here I heard my husband’s adage, something he throws out there when he’s under the gun: “fake it ’til you make it.” Kerry is an amazing salesman. He’s very good at making deals and keeping the customer happy. He never advocates lying to get what he wants, but maintaining confidence and working through life’s troubles as they come, not giving in to fear. John Wayne said it equally well, “Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway.”

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