Page 270 - ShowSight, March 2020
P. 270

                plenty of alone time with her outside, where we could walk and play, just the two of us, without the others horsing around.
Eventually, she pulled out of her sad- ness. In time, she started joining in with the other dogs at playtime, and as time went by, seemed to feel that she was a member of the family. At last! I was so glad she was finally feeling better.
Over the next three years, I fell totally in love with this sweet being. When hap- py, she had such a joyful personality, it was almost as if she had a sense of humor and was laughing when we all were play- ing. A friend would come over and put a handkerchief on her head like a babushka, and add sunglasses. She seemed to enjoy the fun of it all—she was a bit of a prima donna and liked to be in the spotlight. She would turn her head and show it off, purposely clowning.
She had adjusted, finally. We all slept in the bedroom together, and she was good buds with Denali and the others.
Then one day, the phone call came. Sarah’s family emergency was finally over, and she was ready to start the rest of her life. And she wanted Custoda back. The family who took Nepo were giving him back to her, would I give Custoda back, too, so the three of them could be reunited and start their family life again?
Now it was my turn to be heartbroken. I loved Custoda as much as I loved any of my other dogs. She and Denali were like twins—such similar personalities and they got along so well. I did not want to lose her. Sarah made it clear that I didn’t have to. She was so appreciative I’d given “Toady” a home, she wasn’t going to demand her back if it would be too hard for me.
But I thought back on that look Sarah gave Custoda when we were pulling out of that rest area three years earlier, the saddest thing I’d ever seen. And I knew I had to give her back. No matter how much it hurt me, it would be so good for Sarah, and Custoda, and Nepo.
When Sarah came, Custoda was beside herself. Sarah had brought Nepo too, and when he and Custoda saw each other, they went crazy with joy. As Sarah and I talked, Custoda didn’t know what to do. We were sitting on facing couches. Custoda would hop up on one couch and sit next to Sarah for a while as we talked, smiling and wag- ging her tail. Then she’d run over and hop up next to me and smile at me. It was clear she loved us both and didn’t want us to feel she was playing favorites. But I could see she was going to be so happy being reunited with her original family.
Sarah slept in the guest room and left very early the next morning with Custoda,
by agreement not waking me. I didn’t want to get up and say goodbye because I knew I would burst into tears. And I wanted Cus- toda to be happy to go. So I said goodnight the night before, giving Custoda a final hug, telling her how much I loved her, and went to bed.
When I got up, they were gone. I looked out the kitchen window at the driveway hill, where Custoda had sat so many times, bark- ing and urging me to take her to find her Mom. Finally she had got her wish. And now she, and her Mom and her brother Nepo were all off on a big adventure driv- ing across the country to their new home. I cried, missing her, but they were also tears of joy for her.
I never saw Custoda again. Sarah was very good about keeping in touch, describ- ing their new life and how happy Custoda and Nepo were.
And then one day, she had bad news. The day we all dread when we love our dogs more than anything else in this world. It was devastating for both of us to lose such a bright and loving spirit, but we were so glad Custoda had ended up having a nice long life. It had some hard adjustments for her, but it turned out with a happy ending. So now she is gone, and Sarah and I both look forward to being with Custoda again when it’s our turn to go.

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