Ready or Not… Here She Comes
Shortly after Thanksgiving, I lost my beloved dog, Banksy. Her death was sudden and I was not with her when it happened – I had recently returned to New York after spending the holiday at my mom’s in New Mexico, where Banksy lived. Not being there for her when she made the transition is something I’ll have to live with, and not a day goes by where my heart doesn’t ache at the loss of my baby girl.
I’ve actually written a blog post about this loss, but I haven’t been able to summon the courage to finish and publish it. Reading Dogland, though, is inspiring me to get finish what I wrote!
I bring up Banksy’s death because the first chapter of Dogland discusses how the author, Jacki Skole, lost her own beloved pet, Gryffin. When I read this chapter a couple of months ago, it took me a little bit of time to get through it, honestly. Not because of the writing – it’s actually written beautifully — but because it dredged up all kinds of emotions revolving around Banksy’s death that I hadn’t dealt with yet.
But the chapter is not all sad: Eventually, the family goes to adopt a new dog, a puppy they’ll name Galen and who was found on Petfinder.com. (As an aside, if you’re looking to adopt – particularly if you want a specific breed type – I definitely recommend using Petfinder!)
Anyway, I loved when she writes:
“Gryffin was my son, my teacher, and my protector. As my first child, he brought out maternal instincts I didn’t even know I had, and prepared me to be a mother to my two daughters.”
I think any pet guardian (I don’t like to say “owner”) understands her here. Animals are part of the family, there’s no question. Though I don’t have human children, I definitely consider myself a mother to my cats (and of course I considered Banksy, when she was still here, like a child).
And as any pet parent knows, sometimes the pets we take in have personality issues, or idiosyncrasies or quirks that may be troubling. Galen’s issues actually reminded me of the issues I had with Banksy when she was a puppy (I adopted her at a few months old from the Albuquerque shelter), which included fear and distrust of men and other dogs. I distinctly remember bringing Banksy to the dog park, only to have her completely avoid the other dogs and wander off by herself. Banksy also liked to nip at people’s feet.
Galen’s behavior prompted Skole to research into her past and try to learn her origins; what was particularly interesting to Skole was the fact that Galen was a dog from North Carolina who ended up in a shelter in New Jersey. Many animal advocates may be aware of pet transport, which brings dogs and cats from overpopulated shelters in the South to rescues and shelters up North. Galen’s story is part of that process, and in the coming chapters we will meet the women who help move animals into their furever homes.
Dogland: A Journey to the Heart of America’s Dog Problem can be purchased directly through Ashland Creek Press. Book excerpt available here.