Later today I will meet with some people who will help me find a new home for Gala. I’m torn between thinking it’s the most selfish and unselfish act I’ll ever commit.
What kind of a person rescues a dog from the side of the road, keeps her for almost a year and then decides to find a new home for her when circumstances make it awkward, stressful, uncomfortable, inconvenient to have a dog with a temperament such as my little black border collie friend. In my mind, that’s the worst kind of selfishness. Especially when faced with a creature so loving that I’m trying to stifle any crying sounds I would otherwise be making while typing this because if she heard, she would come in her and push her head under my arm, lick my fingers while typing, do her best to cheer me up. She’s just that sweet.
But is it fair to condemn such a dog to a life on a leash? I’ve committed to being in Victoria, to working and living here for the time being, until such time as it’s finished and I can go…I don’t actually know what’s next. Such is the crux of my whole life. If someone had asked me a year ago what I most dreamed of, I would have said a house on an acreage across a dirt road from a field in a tiny town in south eastern bc. A tall house with fruit trees and garden space, clean water in abundance and space for a secret garden, which will of course create a space for secret garden parties. A dog such as Gala fit perfectly into those plans and when she arrived, it seemed like divine intervention. If anyone had suggested that less than a year later I would be living and working full time in Victoria, I would have called them crazy.
But a lot can change in a year. And I find myself seemingly moving further away from that dream of stillness, of summer days filled with the chorus of insects and the babble of a wildhorse, winter nights filled with the music of a sky teeming with stars reflected on white drifts. Moving towards a life that could be confining and stressful to a dog who requires space to roam and a home to protect.
Some might argue, I took her in and now her home is with me, wherever I am is her home. But if that’s the case, it’s a home that dictates for now, while I’m here she must be on a leash more than she can be free to run. And I can’t condemn her to that. I would never wish that on a dog. I’ve seen how she is on a leash and she’s fine. But I’ve seen how she is without one and she is ecstatic. If I knew for sure what my future held, I could say, perhaps I can find her a place for the time being and then we could roam together again. But that’s the most selfish option of all.
When I think about her being someplace new, with new people, it makes me sick and sad. But when I see her look up a tree or start because she spots a squirrel and she pulls and then looks at me, realizing I’m not going to let her off the leash for fear that she will get into trouble, it feels even worse.
She is the most intelligent dog I’ve ever known. Her ability to learn and adapt is phenomenal. It could be argued that with time and a stronger hand than mine (my ability to discipline is mostly non-existent) she could be tamed enough that she could live in a suburban or even an urban setting. But that seems the worst compromise of all. I wouldn’t recommend city dwelling for humans, much less our four footed friends whose sensitivities to stimuli and toxins go so much deeper than ours. No, I’d rather she find a place where she can be free to be free.
It’s what she would do for me.