Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Groundhogs Are Back

Sometimes we make a mistake. Cora was (is) a sweet, adorable, little lady, and if I had been in the right place and time for a dog, I couldn't ask for a better one.

But. Soon after I brought her home, I realized that I had made a wrong turn. I had so clearly relished the freedom of being on my own. That feeling of freedom took a nose dive. I felt tied down, accountable, distracted, frustrated, and trapped. Really, all of those--just because of a lovable--and loving--little dog. I tried to convince friends that she was just what they needed, but apparently she wasn't. I tried to grit my teeth and accept that we were meant to be together, and got more depressed. The last thing I could see myself doing was taking her back to the shelter. What could be more heartless?

But. Cora's one bad habit was getting into the "briar patch" that surrounds my property and had worked effectively as a fence for Sisko. Admittedly, she was just doing exactly what I had brought her home to do--taking care of those groundhogs. I tried to explain to her that she didn't need to be QUITE so thorough. She ignored me--tracking down critters was her area of expertise. So the neighbors had to put up with my constantly bleating "CORA-A-A!" when she disappeared. Or I had to keep her constantly on the end of a leash. Who was tied to whom?

Finally I decided to see what would happen if I left her to her own devices in the yard. Maybe I was underestimating her. Maybe she understood what her limits were. She didn't. She worked her way through twenty feet of brush, across a big road, into the field on the other side, and didn't show any signs of stopping. I'm telling this to illustrate why I believe sometimes our wishes are granted in mysterious ways. My fear for her safety was the push I needed to return her to the shelter. Although I felt all kinds of rotten and sad, I also felt my inner compass swinging around. Unfortunately, just because something is the "right" thing to do doesn't make it easy.

On my way back from leaving Cora at the shelter, I stopped to talk to a friend, and she said the magic words: "They'll take good care of her. Don't beat yourself up. I know they will, and I'm trying not to. Another friend said, "Maybe you were the half-way home she needed." And my own inner wisdom reminds me that dogs don't take things so personally. They are more adaptable to life than most of us.

I'm praying for a wonderful home for Cora. (You can contact the shelter here if you're interested!)

And meanwhile . . . does anybody know what to do about groundhogs?


  1. Hi, Marileta,
    Maybe too many new situations all at once -- retirement and a new dog. Try reversing the roles. If all of this with Cora had been happening to a friend, wouldn't you have advised her/him to do the same thing you did? See, you did right by Cora.
    Sorry, I'm clueless about groundhogs.
    Kathy Doherty

  2. First off, congratulations on your retirement! I was laid off from my day job almost a year ago and I was told that it would take about a year to adjust to all the changes. I think that was a fair assessment. Be kind to yourself.

    I'm glad to know you have a blog and that I can check in on you.

  3. Whoops. I forgot the rest of my comment. :) Second, you did the right thing with Cora. Truly. Don't beat yourself up.

  4. Marelita,
    Dogs are a huge commitment! I had no idea when we got a puppy, two years ago. She's adorable and loving, just like Cora, but man what a lot of work. You did the right thing. She'll find another home.

    We had groundhogs when we lived IN a Saint Louis suburb. The mom came back every year. One year she had three babies. They lived under our deck and would come out and sunbathe on the deck. We tried trapping them in a live trap, according to an expert, they like cat food. But the cat we trapped liked cat food better.

    I watched the groundhogs a lot. The mom would scold the babies. She would make a high pitch squeaking sound to call them. They would sneak into a neighbor's garden and steal vegetables. They would stand up on their back feet and hold their harvest between their hands and eat. Very cute, but can be dangerous. Could you call animal control?

    Best wishes and don't back them into a corner.