Giving up

I can finally admit that sometime last week, I was ready to give up. I just couldn’t do it anymore. I couldn’t pick up another pile of poop, let alone 11 piles. I couldn’t let my ankles be bitten. I couldn’t mix another batch of food. I just wanted to read my book and knit and prepare for my classes and cook dinner for my family. I didn’t want to think about walking 2 dogs and paying attention to 11 puppies. I didn’t want to ask my neighbors for anymore newspapers. I didn’t want to ask the shelter staff for clean bedding and even more food. I wanted to quit.

I admitted to myself that this was really hard work – back breaking work. And now that the puppies had outgrown the sleep-a lot-stage, they were less cuddly and in need of a different kind of attention. More work. More food. More poop. More work. I knew that every 3 or 4 hours, I’d have to redo the whole thing – mix food, clean up poop, facilitate nursing in shifts, clean up some more, encourage playing with toys rather than my hands, more cleaning. The whole process took 45 minutes to an hour. Just the thought of doing it was more than I could handle.

So I did what I always do when I’m feeling overwhelmed – I hunkered down and got to work. I streamlined the whole operation. I started to train the little buggers not to bite me. I took my dog and the mom out for a walk every day that it wasn’t raining and some days when it was. I started thinking about the future – when these pups would all be adopted into loving homes and I’d have my life back.

Kathy, at the shelter could tell that I was near the end. But neither of us wanted to say it out loud for fear that we’d create some unthinkable situation. She took the puppies to the shelter for some afternoon play sessions. She started asking me specific questions like, “do you need more bedding,” rather than just saying, “what do you need?”

It all helped. I made it through. And one puppy has a family! She’ll stay with the litter until she’s old enough to be spayed, but she has a home! Wasn’t that the goal?

When I agreed to try this crazy adventure, I knew I’d go through stages. Sort of like being in a foreign country for an extended period. There’s initial euphoria when everything is new and rosy and quaint. Then reality sets in and you realize that these unfamiliar customs and modes are hard to get used to. Then when you’re near the end of your stay, you get nostalgic for all of those things that had been annoying just a few weeks before. After college, I spent a year in Tunisia. It was fun and eye-opening and hard and exhausting and I’d do it again in a heart-beat.

I’m in the home stretch with these puppies. I already feel myself letting go. Well, maybe letting most of them go…

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