Walking up the drive way was strange. It's been probably two years at least since I was there, but I didn't think too much about the tightening in my chest walking up. Then I went inside and without even realizing my eyes were drawn to our spot. We had a spot in the room where Bella and I stayed, because there we could say far enough away from the other dogs to sometimes get a bit of work done. Then I looked around and realized the trainers dogs were out, and there was Maxi, a saluki Bella once hit with her teeth who screamed and screamed afterwards, and I was gone. Back into the basement of my trainer's house where we'd been working with Bella, me sitting away from her, trying to get her to be calm around Maxi. I wasn't there at the facility getting ready to start training Crash, I was back 3 years, to when I had Bella at her house for a summer of day long privates three times a week.
Brought back to the present I listened and absorbed as much as I could about the training program, even though I knew all of it already, but my eyes kept going to her spot. When I pictured myself in this room, I pictured myself with Bella at my side. I remembered the spot we were in the first day she went to class, when her issues first really showed their face. I remembered getting her fitted for her gentle leader... going over to a easy walk... working private sessions with my trainer and her dogs... and the day we worked on greeting new strangers and I walked away from her, and Bella was tied to the wall, crying, literally crying, and throwing herself at the wall, devastated I'd left her.
It was way harder then I thought it would be. Hard for me to smile when the trainer introduced me to the owner of a GSD puppy as the "girl with Shepherd experience -- she owned the GSD from hell." Hard to smile when her assistant looked at me and said, "I remember hearing about you, but never got the chance to meet Bella."
It was just hard.
But I'm excited to go back--to face those memories, embrace them, and make new ones with Crash. I know that he'll help me through each night there, and that when memories resurface he'll help me cope, and help me build new memories that will go side by side to my memories of Bella.
I think I'm probably a little scared too. Scared that Crash will have the same issues Bella did, even though he's shown NO signs at all. Scared that somehow, someway, I'll be that same girl, coming in with the 'bad dog' and leaving with bruises on my ribs, tears on my face.
But here's hoping Bella's there in spirit, giving Crash a quick tuning when he's getting just a bit out of hand, and keeping us straight on the path we're supposed to be on.
And as a side note, my trainer lost her 15 year old Golden Retriever last week, and I hope he and Bella have found each other, where ever they are, and maybe on Monday nights they'll somehow know their owners are working together again, after several years they weren't.