R and I adopted a puppy over Christmas. The little guy was found by a friend's aunt at midnight Christmas Eve morning. Abandoned in a box outside of a store. He's a small breed and with that comes a lot of anxiety for me.

Last night the puppy seemed extra lethargic and only wanted to sleep. He usually wakes up and demands food, a potty break, or at least cries for attention. I all but pulled out my hair thinking of what it could be. Did he get Parvo? He's too young for shots. Maybe I exposed him to something. Maybe he broke something in his body when he fell off the bed earlier that day when I went to use the restroom for a second. Surely his demise was coming, that I was sure of. Everything in my whole body told me that somehow it was all of my fault and it wouldn't be okay.

R comforted me and told me that he is growing and needs a lot of sleep. I decided to put him in his bed on the ground for the night. Racked with anxiety and dread somehow I eventually fell asleep. Until 3 am.

I shot up out of a dead sleep to look over the bed. The puppy was gone. R lives with roommates in a two-story house. When I couldn't find the puppy under the bed or anywhere else in the room my mind told me he must have fallen off the open staircase into the living room. I bolted around the corner and looked over the ledge...nothing. What about the massive fish tank resting against the wall? Did he fall to his watery grave? Also nothing. I looked to my greyhound Merlin who stared at me with the same anxiety. Maybe my dog had killed him from jealousy? also no. I woke up Robert in a frenzy. He helped look for a bit but said the puppy was small and very tired and most likely sleeping in a small space. This didn't ease me much but I was at a loss and fell asleep.

This process repeated at 5 am. Poor R got up to help me. Both of us are filled with dread now. He works outside and starts at 7 am. I felt awful making him help. Alas, the roommate on the second floor with us told us he had the puppy and he found him wandering around about 2 in the morning. Though the puppy's cries have made it hard for me to sleep since Christmas. I was so relieved to hear his little whimpers again.

The reflection of all of the feelings I experienced today leaves me troubled. I know that I had to think long and hard about where these demented thoughts come from and unfortunately I have found a root cause. The usual. For me. My childhood. My parents hoarded small dogs for a long time and growing up around that I witnessed a lot of sad deaths of some of them. One my mother blamed on me. The other she blamed my dad. Both stay with me and I need to get them off of my chest.

The first was when I was 11. My mom, twin brother, and I moved out to pretty much the middle of the woods off of a busy road with her boyfriend. My mom had a young black pomeranian in which she named Keto. Her boyfriend had a massive black shepherd named Butch. And we were often alone as both my mother and her boyfriend were both alcoholics and gambling addicts. Not usually coming home until late in the night. Usually belligerent and fighting. The year we lived in that environment we were in a constant state of unease. Due to a number of other different reasons we didn't really have friends outside of the dogs.

One night when we were once again alone, my brother and I couldn't find Keto. We had let him outside but he hadn't returned. The woods were dark and we were scared. Butch kept walking towards the road as we searched. We tried called out mom and her boyfriend a hundred times but neither answered as there is no cell phone service at the casino or on the roads home.

Late at night, my drunk mom burst through the door sobbing. She said that Keto was in two pieces on the road. That his eyeballs had exploded out of his head and dangled by his skull. She said we should have been watching him closely and shoved me to the ground as I tried to hug her. All of us were sobbing at this point and she ran to the back of the house to her room and slammed the door. While her boyfriend buried our best friend, my brother tried to hug me. I mimicked my mother's actions and pushed him. Hard. To this day I still hate myself for doing that.

To this day I still blame myself. Even though I know... it was not the fault of the two eleven-year-olds to take care of a grown woman's dog. Two eleven-year-olds shouldn't have been alone to even take care of themselves in the first place. And even if we were all together as a normal family. A fact of life is that bad things happen. Dogs being hit by cars is one of those things. The last time I saw Keto was in a dream. We were sitting in the living room just as it was. I felt his warm licks on my face. A knowing sense of “forgive yourself” flowed over me. And I hugged him goodbye and woke up crying. It was such a powerful experience. As a grown woman it makes me cry for my younger self.

The second loss was another one of my mother's Pomeranians a few years later. His name was Bandit and he could shell sunflower seeds. We all loved him. This time we were back living with my dad who had some of his own Pomeranians and loved to work outside with his pups by his side. She told him not to bring her dog out because she didn't want him to be hit by a car. Well, one day my Dad called out for my mom. I remember the three of us were upstairs and looked out the window. I remember seeing Bandits limp body and his tail flowing in the air as my father staggered down the driveway towards the house. My mom wailed and fell to the floor. My dad entered the house wailing and she berated him and told him it was all his fault over and over until he left crying. He was a large and strong man. He didn't deserve it. I wept for him. I wept for my mom. I wept for Bandit.

All of this was so many years ago but this fear has a hold on me. I am so afraid to relive it. I'm so afraid of being at fault for hurting my new small friend.