Nina was always very understanding when I'd complain about my love/less than love relationship with Gracie. She'd give me great advice, which I would either adopt and experience great failure, or would just look glassy eyed at her and say, "umkay" (yes, Nina I will start brushing Gracie's one crazy tooth. Umkay).
I would always joke, "Gracie you go live with Nina-New-Mommy" and laugh. Nina would respond that she'd take Gracie in a heart beat. But the guilt would come crashing down on me like big boxes of heavy guilt that rained down from Planet Guilt and I could not taker her up on it.
One day, Nina suggested she take Gracie for a week, just for a bit of respite. And I figured I could do that. After all, Gracie had stayed with her when Brian and I had gone away on vacations. I felt no guilt about that, so this would be no different.
So off Gracie went one Sunday afternoon with her little suitcase and promises that she'd be good for Nina while Mommy enjoyed not screaming and crying by 4pm every day. Is this what having a colicky infant is like? For 10 years?
At the end of one week, I asked Nina if she could do another week.
By day 10 I asked Nina if her offer to adopt Gracie was still on. And it was. And I could have wept with relief.
And horrible crushing guilt.
Followed by more relief.
After about two months of Gracie living with New Mommy, Nina brought her by one day. She was soft and shiny and had a little pep in her step. She'd lost a couple pounds (She weighed 30 pounds on her last day with me, which was about 10 pounds too much. That's a lot on a little dog). I held her for a couple minutes and then got frightfully misty.
Gracie seemed pretty non-plussed.
Whatevs, old mommy. I'm living the high life now.
Within two seconds of Nina saying "bye bye little Boo" to Gracie and shutting the door, the weird Gracie behaviour started up again - the whimpering and begging eyes and the tap tap tapping on the floor, trying to tell me she wants something, but I never get it right.
THIS DOG IS A BOTTOMLESS PIT OF INDEFINABLE NEED. It's like playing a guessing game except it never, ever ends and the only way to win is to go sit on the front steps, alone, with booze.
So when Sunday evening rolled around and it was time to pack little weirdo off to her new family, it was not without both sweet frosted relief and a big dollop of shame.
Even though it has all worked out for all involved, I still feel like I've failed Gracie. I want to be like those mega tattooed women who rescue death row pit bulls and reform them into 75 pounds of muscle-y adorableness. I want to be the kind of person who does not project my fears and insecurities onto an innocent Sheltie. I want to be the kind of person who doesn't think her dog is judging her, and finding her very much wanting. But I am not that person. I am weak, dammit. And Gracie's will to be anxiety provoking is strong.
So maybe it's not just me. And it's not just Gracie. Maybe we're just wrong for each other. Breaking up was hard to do, but it was the right thing to do. It was a mutual thing.
I still love the little bitch, dammit.