I don’t often ask publicly for advice, but I’m needing some thoughtful ideas right now. I’m at the point where I’m considering finding another home for Ashok. It breaks my heart to think of getting rid of her, but my life has changed dramatically, and I hate that she’s having to spend so much time alone. I find myself not doing things or getting out socially because I don’t want to leave her trapped in her room. We are both suffering.
When I lived in Memphis, I worked long days, but when I came home we always took long walks down by the river, at Shelby Farms, around midtown neighborhoods and down by the Mississippi River. Dogs were welcome in all of the pretty places and on all of the trails and greenways in town. It benefited us both. It was great exercise for me, it was social, and it was great for her. But here all of the parks and greenways have ‘no pets’ policies. One day I drove two hours to get to the St. Tammany Trace only to find that they didn’t allow pets on the greenway. A short time ago I stopped at a Visitor’s Center in that area and asked if there was a place to walk my dog, and he said he could think of none. I’m limited to a few places here to walk/run with her, and some of those have no sidewalks and are really not that safe except in broad daylight.
I’m needing to build a life. I need to make friends. I would like to meet some men to date. I want to do things with people that have like minds. I’d love to go over to the Red Dragon Listening Room to hear live music and maybe make some friends there. I need to get more involved in the recovery community. I’ve decided that I’m not that much into the outdoors here. The weather is too dicey, and for a good part of the year, it’s just uncomfortable for a variety of reasons. Last year I tried to do the things I enjoy like running and hiking and camping, but most of the time I was miserable. In an effort to adapt to my surroundings, I need to find other things I like to do. Unfortunately, most of those don’t include dogs. And, if they don’t include dogs, then I have to leave her alone for more time than I already do. The guilt is killing me.
I know that I could have somebody come in and walk her, but that doesn’t solve the issue that she’s by herself for an excessive amount of time. I can’t afford another dog, so that’s out of the question. I tried putting her outside in the yard when I was in Memphis, but she hated that. She would never even go in the doghouse. If it rained, she sat in the rain. I felt even guiltier leaving her outside.
She’s not a dog that loves toys. She loves me. She likes to do things with me. She loves to walk and to run and to camp and to hike. I actually love those things, too. As much as I tried to do the things we have always done last year, neither one of us enjoyed it anymore. She didn’t want to go outside during July and August. She’d get excited when I said ‘walk’ or ‘run’, but then she’d sit down in the middle of the road as soon as we got outside. I’d have to drag her. I have to learn something new. I’m single. And while I love my dog, I need people in my life. I’m an extrovert. And I know she’s a social animal, too. Maybe I identify how miserable I am with how miserable she must be. I don’t know. I just know that I feel extremely guilty, lonely and disillusioned right now. I need to know what to do.
I’m reading a book right now by Joan Borysenko called ‘Minding the Body, Mending the Mind’. She’s got some great tips on reframing things so I can deal with difficult situations. Maybe I need to find a way to reframe this. I just know that every time I have to leave after leaving her all day, I feel so guilty. But I can’t build my life around my dog either. I need humans and friends in my life, too. I need help right now with this. I would love to see both of us happy and enjoying our lives. Right now, I think we both feel isolated, trapped and depressed. And I can’t see any way out but to help her find a new home where she has more company. I guess I could just go about my life and let her deal with it, but my conscience has a hard time putting that to rest.
Anybody have suggestions on what they do?