Of my 12 tattoos, there is one that gets infinitely more attention than the others. Personally, I would have thought the map of America creatively emblazoned on my chest might pique a few questions. But no, it’s the dog on my left arm. Is that your dog? What’s the story? Tell me more.
It was truly love at first sight. Years ago, when I was volunteering at the Humane Society of Charlotte, Sarah and I met. She was located in the Crazy Ass Dog section, and since I was dutifully approved to handle crazy ass dogs, we got an opportunity to get to know each other.
Immediately, I was intrigued. Sarah was still. Calm. Tail wagging. Pouty eyes. I was smitten. Super sweet, but with demons, I would learn. Strong. Very strong. A mix between pit bull, shar-pei, and everything but the kitchen sink. I learned everything there was to know about her and made the decision that all she needed was a 2nd, 3rd, or 4th chance and someone who could handle her. If I didn’t step in, no one would. She would continue to be overlooked in favor of cute puppies and popular breeds. I couldn’t let that happen, so I intervened.
She was a handful from the start, joining a household that already included a female Jack Russell terrier, Becks, and a 3 pound gangster chihuahua, Happy. Sarah got along somewhat comedically with Happy ( I called them Pumbaa and Timon), but she thought Becks was a nuisance and, subsequently, a chew toy. (In fairness, Becks CAN be a nuisance.)
Fast forward some period of time, and Sarah needed a new home. It broke me, because through all the sheningans, we had this bond. She knew I saved her life, and she provided me immense love and joy. But this was the right decision, and through some bobbing and weaving, she found a new loving home with Christy’s sister, Robin. I still remember the day I dropped her off, me crying essentially the entire way back home.
She lived an amazing second life, spoiled rotten and receiving the first priority attention that she needed. I got to see her once or twice a year, her pouty eyes glued and powerful tail wagging the second I arrived. I would give her a big ol’ kiss on her big ‘ol face, and immediately, nothing had changed.
We all called her Sare Bear. Everyone was happy with how things turned out, the biggest recipient being Becks’ life. Sarah lived a good life in Charlotte, NC, a long, great life in Northern Virginia, then finished up her journey in West Palm Beach, FL last week.
I got to say goodbye to her in person in early February. She looked great, but I kind of knew. Then, this past Wednesday as I drove home from North Carolina, I got the opportunity to say goodbye for real. As I drove near Auburn, AL on I-85, a massive storm hit. Instead of fighting the intense rain, I decided to pull over and FaceTime Robin and Sarah. Immediately, I could see that it was time for her to go. She was different. So I told her goodbye and that I loved her, and that was that. I got the news while driving the following day. According to Robin, Sarah was calm, happy, and peaceful as she went. I cried all the way home.
So the next time you ask me about my dog tattoo, be prepared for this. Maybe you can relate, or maybe you should just ask me about the map of America on my chest. It’ll save us all a few tears.
Have a great week.-Benj
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