Fare Thee Well, Sweet Pubbays

Saying goodbye to pups when they move with their humans is the second saddest thing about being a pet care provider. After daily visits for months or years, you grow to love every cowlick and side eye glance you get from your charges. They read me as easily as I read them. We can tell if the other is having an off day; we know each other’s favorite weather, when to initiate playtime, and if something happened earlier in the day that caused some stress or excitement. They have favorite songs, places to be scratched, pee spots, and areas that always need to be sniffed. It’s my job to know those things and they count on me to know how to make our visits as happy as possible. And like a spouse or a roommate, we continue to learn about each other, even if the curve isn’t so steep after a while.
All of this is pretty easy with puppies, as their temperaments may be sketched in, but they haven’t grown into them fully yet and there is still lots of room for influence by their humans. They respond to the energy around them. In my experience, calm and gentle are the best energies to provide consistently. Older dogs, especially elderly dogs, have already gelled into their temperament and have a lifetime of learned responses to all sorts of stressors. They thrive under calm, gentle guidance and love, but it takes them a bit longer to trust it. Once they do, they are heartwarmingly responsive.
Today I am saying farewell to two very different elderly pups who are moving out of state with their wonderful mom. I’ve been visiting them for just over a half a year and have watched them decide to trust and follow me like two ducklings. It breaks my heart to see them move, but I get to say goodbye knowing that they are continuing on with an attentive, dedicated, and loving mom who only ever puts their needs and health above all else. Once, when Wina had diarrhea in the house, mom’s response was that she loves her more than any rug or floor. That’s a response I can respect. Poor dear was sick, and mom responds with every bit of love and nurture we wish all mother’s emanated. I wanted to hug her. She communicated every morning with me about Wina’s start to the day so that I could work with her to nurse this sweet old girl back to herself. Wina’s brother Flash took a bit longer to win over, but even this curmudgeonly old man snuggles up to me, plays bitey face, and craves a special treat I make for my charges as if I was dealing them crack cocaine. He rarely takes his eyes off me during my visits, and then only if there is something super compelling (like a fox). So, today I’ll sing their favorite songs, give them extra ‘crack’ muffins, scritch all of their favorite spots, and cry like a baby because I’ll miss them dearly. Fare well, Sweethearts. Take good care of your mum.

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