A Piece of My Heart

May 6, 2009 at 8:53 pm (Life) (, , , , )

I called my mother on Monday to – apparently – reassure her that I was still alive. For Mother’s Day, I sent her a package. It contained sock yarn, curry, books, an Arvel Bird CD I had purchased when he, along with other Native American heritage composers, performed at my college. I also included a couple of CDs from my voice lessons because my mother had been complaining about not getting to hear me. Personally, I think she was wondering if she was getting her money’s worth, but never mind that.

She told me that she put a CD in. My dog is usually very lethargic in the evening, but Lena perked up immediately and then went on to search the entire house for me. She’s always been fairly musically inclined for an animal. Right around the time we got her, when I was thirteen, I started singing a lot more frequently. She seemed to enjoy being sung to, especially in the evenings – I believe it may have assuaged the loneliness she felt at no longer sleeping with her litter mates and family.

Back when I still took piano lessons, she would attempt to wedge herself between my feet and the Yamaha electric piano in our living room. She quickly learned this was not particularly comfortable because I needed to tread pedals on occasion. She then settled for sitting next to me, her tail thumping in time with the metronome. When I took up singing on a slightly more professional basis, she would always make sure to be nearby when I practiced. She would become very excited and, sometimes, she would join in.

Ever since leaving her back with my mother in England, it feels like a part of me was ripped from my chest. When I am home, Lena and I are pretty much attached to each other at the hip. Where I go, she goes. I admit to somewhat obsessively planning my schedule around hers, making sure I am not away from home too long, planning walks and preferring my interactions with people to be capable of involving her somehow. That’s just how the two of us work. When errands need to be run, I try to make sure I can get there by foot or by bicycle or, if it’s not too long, by public transportation. I feel lonely without her.

img_5208This sort of brings me to today’s dilemma. When my sort-of-adopted-aunt came home, we went about making salad for dinner. As I was washing the portion of baby portabella mushrooms to get rid of the massive amount of dirt, she pretty much dropped a bomb on me.

“You know,” she said as she sliced some sweet pepper, “if your parents can’t afford to have you go back to Germany this summer, I’ll send you. You need to see your dog.”

I wanted to choke up for a moment, so I concentrated on wiping some particularly stubborn clump of dirt stuck on a mushroom. “It’s up to Mom and Dad, I guess.” Studiously avoiding facing someone else when talking about an uncomfortable subject is a specialty of mine.

“If it’s possible, you know she could come live here, right? We could somehow work it out.” I protested a little feebly, pointing out that Odin – her 11-year-old mean cat – would probably not take too kindly to a large dog invading his territory. “Well, he gets cranky, but he usually adjusts. We’ve had a Rottweiler over before. For a few days. But they sort of worked something out.”

There is nothing I would love more than to have her here. So my first, rather irrational, response was to wait until she’d left for the Neighborhood Association meeting so I could let the tears flow as I looked up airline regulations on pet travel. At the same time, I knew it was stupid. My mother had – off-handedly, jokingly – remarked that she would love to send the dog with me. I have no doubt she would love to finally be able to rightfully hand over the responsibility for my dog to the person she actually belongs to. But Lena’s not exactly young anymore at seven-and-a-half. Our old dog, Whisper, nearly died when she flew from the US to Germany back in the early 90s.

I realize that airlines must be much better about pets traveling these days, what with the involvement of animal rights agencies and so forth. I am still loathe to think of putting my poor, sweet dog in the cargo hold of a noisy airplane. If I could take her into the cabin with me, as people with small dogs or cats are allowed to, I would do it in a heartbeat. Alas, Lena weighs a great deal more than 17.5 lbs.

I feel a bit like a recently divorced parent with extremely limited visitation rights to their child. I don’t even know if I should attempt to broach the subject with my mother. I would love it, but on the other hand, it is my responsibility to ensure my companion animal’s well-being. I somehow don’t see an airplane fitting into the equation because I am a doting mother hen.

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