Friday, April 03, 2015


It felt as natural as breathing air to bring Frankie into my life (or Figaro, as he was named at the shelter). I had been happily fostering different types of anxious/shy dogs since my first one was homed. The first one was the hardest, and then it became easier. I always dreaded the whining/crying drive up to my cabin from the shelter thinking "why am I getting another one!" but it felt so good to be able to ease the stressed creature from cage to soft warm bed. I had gotten the hang of it. I was in no risk of keeping one - my plans hadn't changed from my trajectory to go back to the Ice. Then this little silky coal-black chihuahua/dachsund mix came into my life and we were giddy...he was perfect, an angel. He was so adorably cute I had potential adopters right away, and I met the first couple the next day with him in a Goodwill parking lot (now, if someone would have told me this is what my life would have looked like 5 years ago while I was barreling through Western Antarctica in the first tractor traverse to Pine Island Glacier I would have cried. My life had become increasingly badass for 7 years straight; my life had become BIG, and I would never go back to small again. I had no idea how small it would become). They were elderly (the dog was 3 yrs old) and I had an "off" vibe about them, but since they were retired and home all day we decided to let them adopt him. I had him for a few more days before I dropped him off at the shelter to be neutered in the morning and to be picked up by his new home in the afternoon. I was sobbing when I turned Figaro over to the shelter...I was babbling about how he deserved the best home and I hope he was going to get it. A couple of days later I picked up another foster and was busy with her as she was a handful. For the week that I had my last foster I fantasized about a dog like little Figaro coming into my life when I was ready for another dog (which I kind of thought would be in another year or so) - I kept telling people "I just fostered the perfect dog and if I ever meet another one like that I'm gonna keep him" - so my last foster bit someone so I had to take her back to the shelter for bite quarantine. While I was e-mailing back and forth with the foster coordinator about the logistics of picking up another foster while dropping of the current one she wrote "Figaro's adopters returned him to the shelter. If you want to take him again until he gets a new home you can do that!" I was beside myself with glee - I raced to the shelter so I could see that little angel again - his tail was thumping on the kennel when he realized it was me picking him up. I got him home and we just fell into our fun routine of cuddling, long walks and playing with squeaker toys (gak, sounds like I'm dating a dog)...I had the first potential adopter contact me and I wrote her back to arrange a time to meet, knowing that I could not give away this dog a second time (she never wrote back). I had first dibs as a foster parent, so I let myself have 4 or 5 days to really contemplate it, knowing fully well that I was going to have eat some major humble pie after all the kvetching I did about feeling "trapped" with Fergus. There was no decision to be made. He came back to me. He was mine.

I felt I had to write letters to the people who had listened to me complain about my non-Ice life..about the fact that I could find no meaning or purpose in stateside life. And a lot of that is still true: I am very isolated in my cabin on the mountain. I have a yoga family and practice that I love, but I spend most of my time knitting in my cabin alone. I wasn't interested in seeing bands or art or much in town as the drive was so long. And even though I was "free" without a dog, it didn't feel like freedom - it felt I was unmoored and uncentered. I had travel plans and they did not thrill me. I had plans to go back to the Ice and that did not thrill me either. The only thing that thrilled me was this little black dog. I still may need to move off of this mountain to be closer to civilization. I still want to go back to the Ice. All the great things I did in my life I did while I had a dog. And what I didn't realize is how lost and alone and sad I would be without one. I just don't have enough things to fill my time. I need something to take care of and I didn't know that until after Fergus was gone. I just went through all my photos of the last 10 years or so of Fergus. He is held closely to my side in almost every one of them. We were a team...a fused unit of Marsha & Fergus. After communing with those photos for a while it all made sense to me: of course I need a dog for a companion, a companionship I took for granted because I had it for so long. Frankie (formerly Figaro) came back to me. Who could return a dog like this back to a shelter. I haven't second guessed myself like I thought I would. It just felt like the most obvious right thing to do.
adoption day!