What my Four Legged Friend Taught Me About my Healthy Voice

I’ve heard it said before that some friends last a lifetime, some come into your life for a reason, and some only stay for a season.  Well, my four-legged friend, Rigby, could only stay for a season, but the love and light he brought into my life will last longer than the three short months he followed at my heels.  His black, wet nose left a lasting imprint on my heart and soul.
It all started one Spring night while I was working my third-shift job, surfing the internet for rescue dogs, as I had been doing night after night for months.  When I came across Rigby’s ad, something lit up inside me.  A few phone calls later and five hours of driving through Chicago traffic, I finally was going to meet my new best-friend.  Unfortunately, he was not dressed his best for the occasion.  With dirt and feces matted in his fur and ribs protruding, he was a pathetic sight.  But when I opened my car door to get something, he jumped right in, sealing the deal.
Rigby’s age, breed, and history were a complete mystery, left entirely up to my imagination.  He was simply found on the streets, starving, filthy, covered in ticks, and shaking like a leaf.  The only clues Rigby did give me to his past did not point to a happy life.  The first week or so that we spent together, he cowered around men, kept his distance from buses and loud cars, randomly shook like a leaf for no apparent reason, and gobbled his food like there was no tomorrow.  But despite the way in which the human race had let him down in his past, he didn’t let any fear or anger stand in his way of giving love.  He still gave kisses freely, nuzzled his nose under my chin, and gently took treats from my hand.  He still brought me tennis balls in the hope that I would throw them for him.  He was still eager to be my best friend and protect me from harm’s way.  Very quickly, he also became my running buddy, comedian, pillow, therapist, partner in crime, and loyal shadow.
I promised him a forever-home, and that I would take care of him for the rest of his life.  I meant it with my whole heart, but unfortunately, I could only keep half of that promise.  Despite the fact that my roommate loved Rigby, she soon discovered that she had an allergy to dogs she wasn’t aware of before.  For weeks she tried to manage it and deal with it, but it just got to be too much for her.  To top it off, we had just signed a year’s lease for our apartment.  We tried to come up with alternative solutions, but the “easiest” solution was to find a new home for Rigby.  I was devastated.  The top of Rigby’s head was permanently wet for about a week from all of my tears.
The only way I could feel better about the situation was by finding a family for Rigby that could provide him with something that I could not: a fenced-in yard to run and play.  I interrogated family after family before finally deciding on the best forever-home that I could possibly find for Rigby.  I may not have been able to take care of him for the rest of his life like I had planned, but I did keep my promise in finding him a forever-home.
After getting him settled in his new home and saying goodbye, I asked my roommate if she thought Rigby would be okay.  She responded with, “Yeah, are you kidding? Rigby is going to have the time of his life!  It’s not him that I’m worried about; it’s you.  Rigby’s got two more legs to stand on than you do.”
Her response took me off guard, but I realized quickly how right she was.  What is it about those two extra legs our canine friends have?  How are they able to trust and love so freely after being abandoned and abused, while we, humans, build a steel-strength fortress around ourselves after a boy we dated for two weeks breaks our heart?  Rigby never once turned down a game of fetch to sit in the corner and have a pity party for himself.  I never saw him eat his kibble and then throw it up in shame, nor did he walk around the apartment, barking to himself about what a bad, fat, ugly dog he was.  None of that ever happened because Rigby was too busy enjoying his new life, making new friends, rolling around in the dirt, chasing a tennis ball, investigating new smells, and drinking water out of the toilet bowl!
The lessons that Rigby taught me are still unfolding, but I’m so grateful for the three short months he was in my life.  Maybe I wasn’t able to keep him for the rest of his life, but he enriched my life and reminded me of my health voice.  And I can only hope that I helped him too.  After all, who am I to say that I was supposed to be his forever-home?  Maybe I was just meant to be his messenger to bring him back to life and bring him to his new family?
I definitely miss him, and every other minute, I catch myself looking on the floor for him, but to my own surprise… I’m okay.  I’m taking care of myself, living one day at a time, and loving myself; I think that’s what Rigby would want me to do.  After all, I just want him to be happy, and he probably feels the same way about me.  Regardless of the amount of time Rigby spent in my life, he will spend a lifetime in my heart.
Special thanks to Meredith for allowing me to post on her blog as a guest writer!  Writing this post was a therapeutic and healing experience for me… thank you.

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