To the kennel and back

I had been watching Katniss by myself for five weeks while my super-smart wife was away at grad school. To say Katniss had gotten clingy and whiny and taken over my life would be like saying the sky is blue, Katy Perry is attractive or water is wet.

Let me put it this way: Those of you who are full-time single parents–especially of actual human children–are more heroic than *spoiler alert* Batman when he sacrificed himself at the end of “The Dark Knight Rises” (or did he?) for the greater good of Gotham City.

Seeing as how Katniss had pretty much walked all over me during those weeks  because I’m a total softie, I wasn’t necessarily upset when I had to drop her off at the kennel Friday morning so I could leave town see my wife graduate from graduate school. Dropping her (Katniss, not my wife) off is normally somewhat emotional; I despise leaving her with someone else–I don’t want her to think I’m abandoning her. But this time I told myself that the kennel was no big deal.

Wrong.

Leaving her was as agonizing as it had ever been. She howled as soon as we pulled into the kennel parking lot and wouldn’t stop once we were inside the building unless I picked her up and held her—which my wife always tells me is a bad idea, and she’s probably right. As the very kind employees took Katniss to the kennel and she disappeared from my view, my stomach was in one of the knots I learned to tie in Boy Scouts. On top of that, the kennel folks made me take her collar with me, as they don’t want collars or harnesses to get caught on anything in the kennel cages.

Just typing the word “cages” makes me queasy.

The entire drive home I stared at her red-and-black collar on the passenger seat as a few stray Katniss hairs blew in the breeze of my car’s air conditioner. This was going to be a long weekend.

Leaving her was as agonizing as it had ever been.

To say I am proud of my wife is an understatement. She crammed what would normally be a two- or three-year process for most people into a total of about 10 weeks in a very intense Ivy League graduate program. She ate, slept, breathed, drank and dreamed all things grad school. My wife is my Wonder Woman—strong and beautiful and tough. To hear her name called and see her receive her graduate certificate was one of the best moments of our six years together. But I still missed my dog.

My wife picked the pooch up today, and the house again has its normal sounds of Katniss running up and down the stairs, the jingle of her collar around her neck and, of course, her whining.

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