It’s finally hit me: The thought of going away to the Peace Corps with Husband and leaving Apollo behind. I can’t imagine being away from him for two years; I can hardly tolerate a weekend away without him. He’s such a huge part of my life. I was very skeptical of even having him join our family, but he’s become something so precious to me. He’s become a symbol of hope. He’s like a little person with a huge personality! He’s everything I could have ever wanted in a companion. (Besides my Husband) He’s always by my side, he loves me unconditionally, and I’m not sure how I’m supposed to just leave him behind.
I never understood how people could get so overly attached to their pets, or why they’d want to, but in this one short year, it all makes sense to me. It’s not about it being a human to pet relationship, or obedience vs submission, it’s about falling in love with a creature who loves you with all of their might, feeling needed and responsible for a life other than your own, it’s about knowing that no matter what you did, or who you are, or what bad shit you’re into, that creature will never judge you, never disappoint you, and never let you down.
Our Peace Corps interviews are now THREE days away, and although I’ve been struggling about this bit the entire time, it’s hitting me pretty hard now, especially when I think about the circumstances I’d be leaving him in. No matter how much I daydream about life in the Peace Corps, I have those moments where I have to ask myself whether or not I’d be able to leave Apollo behind. Here’s why I don’t think I can:
1. Apollo is my son. I say this all the time; I’ve even mentioned it in this post. He’s my Husband’s dog, but he’s my son. Apollo came into our home before I knew of our infertility troubles. We got him at just a few weeks old, so it’s safe to say I raised him. I endured that very frustrating puppy-crying-at-night phase, that god awful potty training phase, the sit-down-stay phase, and the “I am the boss of you” phase. All in all, Husband and I molded him into a very well behaved puppy, and when I got sick my love for him grew stronger. I’d come to terms in the depths of my mind that regardless of what the doctors said, I’d never be able to have kids. Apollo became that substitute for me. He’s a little spoiled because of that, but he’s a good baby. He’s the little child that, in my mind, I’ll never be able to have.
2. When I move, he moves. No matter where I go, there’s Apollo. I like it that way. I can always know what he’s into. He’s so inquisitive and he eats everything he can mouth! I don’t even like him being outside where I can’t see him. I feel so overwhelmed when Apollo isn’t around. On the rare occasion we go out of town without Apollo, I miss him with every inch of my being. I feel so disconnected. I feel naked almost. We’re a trio: Husband, Apollo and I, and when we’re separated, it’s as is our chemistry is off. How am I supposed to manage being away for 27 months?
3. Mom’s irresponsible. With Apollo at least. He came back from the doctor with very strict dietary guidelines. She’s got two dogs of her own, and honestly, I don’t trust her to be able to give Apollo the necessary attention he needs. One of the foods his vet recommended costs 20 bucks, and the bag isn’t even that big. But, it’s what will make him better so I buy it. She’s the type of parent, and I see this happening with our future children pending God’s approval, who will give him something against my specific instructions, saying “Shhh, don’t tell your mommy. This is yours and grandma’s secret” and then end up with the “Oh shit” face when he ends up having an allergic reaction to whatever it was. Unfortunately, unlike children, he’s reactions aren’t hives. He ends up with the worst runny eyes, exploding bowels, and terribly severe ear infections. She doesn’t know him like I do, she’s not every aware of his behaviors. I ALWAYS know when something isn’t right with him.
4. Mom’s house is a zoo. She’s got a yappy Yorkie who’s about 4 years old now, so spoiled and untrained. She wears dresses, and basically runs the house. She’s the pack leader in their dynamics. She still shits/pisses in the house for god’s sake. She’s also got a young golden retriever, who spends most of her time with nothing to do in the backyard or shoved into a kennel that is two sizes too small. She’s so unruly; she’s eating all of my mom’s light fixtures in the backyard!! Her and Apollo play so roughly. She’s a big dog and Apollo’s a miniature. She knocks him down the stairs all the time. When I’m here I keep those two separated, who is to say she’ll continue to do that with me gone for two years. She thinks their roughhousing is cute! Honestly, Husband and I say quite often that if my mom’s choice of dog food doesn’t kill him first, then her dog will!
5. Apollo’s coat mats so easily. Apollo is a miniature schnauzer, which means he’s a hypoallergenic breed, which also means he doesn’t shed. Because he doesn’t shed, his hair grows really long, really fast. If we miss ONE day of brushing him, he’s all matted up! He gets these big huge mats under his chest, on his legs, around his neck, and in the pockets of his hind legs. We shave his coat down ourselves to keep costs down. I have absolutely no faith in the thought or idea that my mother would get him groomed, or groom him herself. The mats hurt him, and he’s gets very angry when they’re touched. Rightfully so. We’d go to the Peace Corps, and come back to see our dog looking like some homeless stray and would have to shave him bald. I just don’t trust that he’d be very well taken care of.
6. My sister is a total bitch and I don’t want her touching my dog. I don’t even want to get into the logistics of the lack of relationships we have, nor the lack of shits I give about it, but I don’t want her touching my dog. I want his shots, his updated medical exams, whatever, done by a fucking professional. I am not, and have never been, one of those people who do that shit on my own. I will not ever administer shots to Apollo alone, nor will Husband. I will never DIY immunizations or boosters, or any of that shit. I don’t want her bullshitting around and giving Apollo a shot and having to receive a phone call about the consequences of her incompetence. I hate her, I hate seeing her, I hate the thought of Apollo being anywhere near her when I’m not around.
I don’t think I can leave him here for two years, let alone in the care of my mother, but she’s our only choice. I couldn’t ask anyone to take him for two years, because having a dog is a really big responsibility. At least with my mother, I know she loves him. She sucks at taking care of him, but she does love him, and he loves her. So, although I’m technically not leaving a child behind, that’s exactly what it feels like.