Roxy passed away just over four weeks ago. So that’s four weeks and four days of agonizing over whether or not to adopt a new dog.
After lots of soul-crushing wrestling with reality — accepting that a new dog wouldn’t be the same as Roxy — I finally realized there’s really only one way to decide.
How does Rico feel about it?
I struggle with gauging if Rico feels lonely or content. It isn’t as easy as it sounds, especially with grief clouding my judgment. And especially with a dog who acts like he smokes too much weed. Roxy’s unmistakable excitement burst like popcorn at the thought of doing anything — laundry, going to work, checking the mail, whatever. Rico’s excitement, on the other hand, emerges like a turtle from his shell. Or, more accurately, like a slow drip drool.
Reading the signs
So how do you know when your dog needs a new friend? Here’s what I observed with Rico:
- He expresses more interest in car rides.
Before, it wasn’t unusual for him to stay home. Now if I tell him at night that we’re going for a ride tomorrow, he watches my every move the next morning. He doesn’t need a reminder.
2. He checks in with me on walks now. I’ve written about fixing our dysfunctional walks, with Roxy out front and Rico slumped behind. And I’ve written about slowing down and using our walks as a meditation. Now, as Rico and I meander side by side, he frequently looks up at me with tail a’ wagging.
3. He leans in more. I know some behaviorists would probably say this is dominance. But whenever I wanted to reach through my computer to strangle a colleague, Roxy would throw herself across my lap, licking my face. Rico isn’t quite as dramatic, but he quietly sits on my foot or leans against my leg with his own gentle reminder.
4. He’s friskier on outings. He explores more, even walking into water that’s — gasp! — chest-high.
I guess he feels more satisfied, too, because I don’t have to drag him across the parking lot to go home anymore.
5. He willingly took a bath. I walked out from my shower to find him laying on the hallway floor looking up at me. He waved with his tail once and again after I asked him if he wanted a bath. I thought for sure he’d disappear in a puff of smoke as I got his towels out, but he didn’t. He walked in and let me lift him into the tub. Who was this guy?
Before adopting another dog to fill the void in my heart, I have to admit Rico seems pretty happy right now. Love for his two-legged family fills his heart. And when I stop focusing on the gaping hole left by Roxy, I can feel his happiness filling my heart, too.