I’m thinking about my “ex-dog,” Kaylee, tonight for some reason and feel compelled to write about our story together. I’ve always loved animals, but never wanted any myself as I didn’t want the expense or the responsibility. Being a freelance actor and musician, I’m gone a lot as well, so not the best home for an animal. Kaylee belonged to my ex when we started dating and so I started spending a lot of time with her, watching her and walking her a lot (Kaylee, that is…not my ex). When we moved in together (all three of us), Kaylee very much became “our” dog. It was never like “Hey, you need to get your dog some more food,” or anything like that. My ex had a regular day job, and so I, being a freelancer, could spend a lot more time with Kaylee at home, on walks, for vet appointments, etc. She was a very quirky dog. Not in any bad way. She was a poop diva. Very particular about where she went, and almost always had to poop twice per walk instead of getting it out all in one go which was slightly annoying and used a lot of doggy bags. She was very enthusiastic and loving in her way but not the most affectionate dog you’d ever meet. Never the less she was sweet, good-natured and I loved her immensely (Kaylee that is, though that also applied to my ex).
When my ex and I broke up, it was the first time I’d ever had to deal with losing a pet in the process (as well as a girlfriend, a home and neighborhood I loved, and such that made it feel like many breakups in one). Now once again, my aim here is not to gain sympathy or paint my ex in a bad light. It was complicated and she had to do what she felt was right so there are no villains in this story, to be clear. My ex soon after got a job traveling a lot so, much to her dismay, was not really in a position to keep Kaylee (and neither was I), so Kaylee went to live with my ex’s parents which is actually a great life for Kaylee. She has another dog to be with who she loves, a great climate, attentive humans, a yard, and wonderful scenery. All in all, her life likely got majorly upgraded.
Maybe all this thinking was prompted by the latest Radiolab episode which had a part about dogs and their behaviors and such (specifically whether they can be “racist”) and it made me wonder how much emotion, thinking, and anthropomorphism we put on them and how much is real. Like, I haven’t seen Kaylee in probably 2 years and I wonder if she would remember me and how much she loved me, or if I would just be like any other stranger to her now. Was it simply that I fed, walked and took care of her? Do we imagine these bonds because we want them to be true? I don’t think so. I do think there’s enough evidence throughout history to support these ideas to some degree, but I just wonder if it goes as deep as we want it to. I hope she would remember me. Sometimes I still send her thoughts. I hope her doggie brain still thinks of me sometimes. You’re a good girl, Kaylee. I know you’re happy. I just hope you don’t forget me. I’ll chew on a squeaky stuffed snake in your honor.