The other night at my ex-husband’s abode, sometime in the late night hours, the dumber of the two family dogs ran outside and promptly got himself devoured by a coyote. For those of you who don’t know this particular equation it goes Malibu+Pets=Eaten By Coyotes. Doesn’t make it much easier, but it happens all the time. Death, in fact, happens all the time. Still a bummer though, death.
The one that got eaten was mine. It was mine. I am calling him “it” because it is easier to face the loss of an animal that way. Even though I kind of left him energetically long ago, once I realized he was going to be too yappy and needy for me to handle and still stay emotionally sane. I loved him, but the love was complicated by the fact that I don’t like barking and sometimes need space. It was love, but it was conditional. Besides the fact that it is ridiculous to have a dog in my apartment with my #lifestyle, it was obvious the little Something-Poo should live with my ex- and the other dog (a brilliant Labradoodle who is quite capable of doing your taxes) so the kids could enjoy them both in spacious surrounds. Of course that decision was made before I knew that two months later he would be dead.
Their dad and I mutually agreed to delay telling the kids, who were at my house at the time of the massacre, partly because their dad was teaching a comedy class at the school for the next two days. And while I was able to go onstage and do jokes right after I found out my dog had died (I was numb for about a day before the snot came) I suspected my 4th and 5th grader would be less resilient. Why ruin their lives on this last week of school until necessary? As usual, we chose to ruin mine instead.
For two days I carried the terrible secret and mentally cursed them when they cried and whined about trivial shit. My ex, in typical fashion, sent me endless emails trying to “stage-manage” the event, including cutting and pasting research on how kids are impacted by animal deaths. Always trying to micro-manage, my ex, that’s why they pay him the big bucks. Though to be fair, we may or may not have had to fudge the timeline of events, to protect those who left the door open. In Malibu. At night.
“Enjoy this day- it’s the last good one,” I kept thinking, especially for one of my kids who was closer to that dog than the other one. The one who is already not that stable. The one I feared would be permanently pushed over the edge by one more disappointment, as he can barely handle one courtesy of Rubik’s.
We went for a picnic setting, the ex and I, facing them together in much the same way we did about the separation. This announcement ended up being less dramatic. We all just cried together, and have periodically kept crying, on and off these last days, and they are a little clingier and that is okay. We even made a few jokes- at this point the Groucho mask is practically the family crest. I was worried I might energetically leave the kids for being too yappy and needy, but I haven’t. (Or at least only long enough to write this.)
The fascinating part of this rather banal experience (family pet dies, cue: hysteria) is that all the kids wanted afterwards was to go buy a new leash for the other dog then go home and see her. The other dog is huge and can take care of herself, but they wanted to make sure she peed at night on leash. Perhaps they shop away their feelings, like their mom. More likely, they were comforted by the fact that there was still a dog at home, even the kid for whom that dog wasn’t the favorite. They had a back-up pet and could one day, should they decide to, get another. All would be well.
By now the parallel should be clear- while men are not dogs (ahem) they require a certain amount of attention, feeding and maintenance. (I draw the line at grooming.) When I left my marriage I got so obsessed with one idiot Great Dane that I ended up in the psyche ward. (And by Great Dane I refer to one very special part of him. By psyche ward, I mean psyche ward.) My delusion was that he was my only possible pet (and I his) that no one would ever love me like he did etc. etc. while the reality is that we can love as many beings as we can handle emotionally, energetically, and schedule-wise. Also, once you discover your own sexual power you can get lots of cuties to “sit” and “stay” as long as you don’t require them to “roll over.” I have found that I have lots and lots of love to share, and my experience since the Great Dane, with the terrier, the spaniel and the cocker-moron solidifies the fact that I will never count on just one hairy beast again.
One of my kids is not ready for a new pet yet- he needs time, and rightly so. The other kid would like to get another bitch immediately- which is more my thinking when it comes to the death of a romance. You know, when Love wanders around unprotected and gets ripped limb from limb by natural selection. Like, that kind of death. Sort of inevitable, really, in the predatory world in which we live. Sometimes the coyotes wear Laboutins.
The other dog, proud in her new pink collar, is sociopathically happy. She doesn’t seem to remember that there was anyone who lived there before with four paws that she spent every moment of every day with. She understands Darwin, genius that she is, and knows that only a dumb fuck would run right at coyotes. She properly could have drawn the love analogy and written this blog herself, if it weren’t for how hard typing is sans opposable thumbs.
We told the kid that the Something-Poo was “brave” but it ain’t so. Rushing into anything (especially something you know is dangerous) is just foolhardy. But if you do, or coyotes take away the people you love (and by “coyotes” here I mean “dysfunction”) it is important to have a back-up plan. People are not interchangeable, that much is certain, but the only thing that stops me from being yappy and needy is knowing I am not relying on one overtaxed human to fill my needs. At any particular time, I can go to any shelter in the country and find myself another alternative. Hopefully, all I have to do is look at him, cock my finger and say, “Hey! You’re cute. You’re coming with me.”