This post is long overdue, but there are some things I find too hard to write down.
Those dogs. Those salukis that we brought home. They really grew on me fast.
We named them Guinness and Bolt, and other than the fact that no one had ever taught them to poop outside, they were pretty much perfect, if a bit jumpy. They didn't bark. They were very affectionate. They followed us everywhere, and when I worked, one or the other always had his head on my lap.
The kids loved them. Ainsley was forever hugging them fiercely around the neck and saying "I lub him, mama!" Shay took them for walks with his dad, with Kyra and Aidan joining in occasionally.
Despite their somewhat skittish nature - they were rescued from an abusive environment - they were quickly making themselves part of the family.
Until Ainsley snuck up on Guinness while he was snoozing. She must have frightened him, but before he ran away to hide, he bit her, right on the face.
Ainsley is okay: his teeth cut her nose, narrowly missing her eye, and left a bruise on her forehead. After she recovered from her fright, she actually started trying to follow him around, wanting to hug him again. But poor Guinness knew he was busted, and he cowered in the corner, away from her and me. He wouldn't come near us for an entire day - and of course Ainsley wouldn't leave him alone.
The dogs had to go.
I felt awful. Awful. After all, if I'd been paying attention, I never would have permitted Ainsley to sneak up on a sleeping animal. But the damage was done, and I can't keep a dog in the house that has bitten a child, no matter the reason.
Because the dogs were littermates and had spent their whole lives together, we decided to send them back to the kennel together. They came as a team; they left as a team.
The shelter sent a driver the very next afternoon - the afternoon of the dust storm, a couple of weeks ago - to pick up the dogs. It was dusty and windy and dark when the driver and handler arrived. The dogs were thrilled to see them again - until the handler tried to load them in the van. They knew they were leaving us, and they clearly did not want to go. Bolt went first, and he stood in the back of the van trembling so hard that his fur was flying off him. Guinness leapt out of the van and tried to run away, but when I called him, he reluctantly came back, and they forced him back into the van.
They got the van door shut and drove away. Kyra waved cheerfully from her perch on her bicycle and shouted "bye bye! bye bye!" to the dogs until the van was out of sight. Then she turned and said, "awww, I wish we still had those dogs," got off her bike and sadly went inside.
Shay took it particularly hard. That's three dogs he's said goodbye to in as many months, and he was crushed.
We all were. But it was the safest thing to do. The shelter is going to try to find a family without kids to re-adopt Guinness and Bolt.
A few weeks have gone by since we sent the dogs back, but the house still seems empty without them.