I’m smiling on the outside…

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… but inside my face just wants to melt and let the tears go.  I’m having to work hard to keep it together for the sake of those around me- ‘stiff upper lip’ and all that.

Several years ago I decided to try my hand as a social worker, and took a traineeship in a home for teens who had never settled in foster care or adoption.  Needless to say, it was hard work.  Shifts lasted 25 hours, usually with very little opportunity to sleep.  The young people in the home varied in their levels of hurt and distress, substance abuse was a daily reality, and in their eyes my role more often represented the policies and procedures which made their dwelling feel nothing like home, despite the care and concern which I was actually there to give.  Many of the social workers and professionals were jaded in their thinking- so much so, they were probably not even aware how clearly it came across in their tones and actions.

Though it was rewarding work, I frequently came home exhausted and dejected.  One day after a particularly frustrating shift, I walked in my front door and was met by a wiggling, yipping, flurry of fur.  It was Maisie our half-Spaniel, half-ShihTzu puppy, and at her warm welcome I remember bursting into tears thinking, ‘At least someone’s glad to see me!’

Dogs have always been a part of my life.   I’ve found that their warmth, exuberance and loyalty quickly make them members of the family.   Maisie’s enthusiasm and Jess’s gentleness often bring welcome reprieve to the busyness of our days and our roles, and we’re grateful to them for the part they play in our home.  So it saddens me to find myself no longer a dog owner.

Today we said goodbye to our beloved Jess.  Unfortunately we’re just not able to take them with us and, like a surprising number of things in this process, ideal homes have been found for both of our dogs very easily.  Jess will be a blessing to a family who recently lost their dog- and by the looks of it, she’ll have an even better deal in her new home than she did with us.  It’s the best possible thing we could wish for.

But it still sucks.

Today our big decision is feeling very real.

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