Love+, Pets + Animals
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Dog, Divorce, Do-Over: Meditations on Momo

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The author and Momo (Photo:Teresa Misagal/TueNight.com)

A year after I got married, rather than having a baby, we got a puppy.

Momo. A Miniature Australian Shepherd.

Momo was the first dog I’d ever raised on my own.

I’d grown up with cats, I’d inherited a rabbit named Mr. Bunny, I’d lived with dogs before. But Momo was the first pup who was all mine.

A year later, we got another puppy, Dailo, also a Mini Aussie. My husband didn’t really want Dailo, but I went ahead and got him anyway. Funny enough, Dailo turned out to be a guy’s dog. And Dailo and Momo got along famously. They were like a cute little couple.

And then, six years later, my husband and I got divorced.

Irreconcilable differences. I decided it was best to just start fresh with a clean slate. Perhaps if we’d had had kids, we would’ve tried harder to make it work, but no matter. I made the decision and I got to keep Momo and Dailo.

Divorce was sometimes difficult. What happened? Maybe I should have just stayed? Why do I feel like such a loser? I felt like such a failure, and constantly asked myself: “Why couldn’t I have made it work?” And when I’d often cry myself to sleep at night, who was by my side? Momo.

I’d give the bed a pat. That sound was the signal for, “it’s time to go to bed.” She knew it was her cue to curl up with me. Momo would jump up, snuggle behind me, place her head on my neck and spoon. I could feel her warm breath and body next to mine. I don’t know if she realized how much she comforted me each night.

With the same pat on the bed, I’d call Dailo, too. He, however, is very different. He’ll join me, curl up in front and let me hug him, but then moments later, he’ll rollover, turn away, maybe even give me a butt-in-face. Typical guy. Momo, on the other hand, was a mama’s girl.

Momo was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver when she was seven and they expected her to die within the year. I started changing Momo’s diet; she couldn’t have too much protein or she would experience seizures. She became a devout pescetarian — eating fish, avocado, non-animal protein. And she ended up living to be 10 years old.

I had never felt a loss as great as when I brought Momo to the vet for the very last time. I was there for her last breath, and longer. I couldn’t leave her side, even though I knew she was gone. I shed more tears for that dog than for past men in my life. I’m shedding more tears even as I write this. I don’t cry anymore when I think about my ex-husband. The power of that dog’s love was beyond measure, or so I’d like to think.

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The new pack. Teresa and her Aussie brood (Photo:Teresa Misagal/TueNight.com)

Since Momo passed away, I adopted another Aussie, Lola, as Dailo’s companion — and the collective duo is called Dailola. And in the past three years since Lola has joined us, I have volunteer-fostered seven dogs. The most recent one, Ollie, got away twice from his adopters and ran back to my building.

Ollie has decided that Dailola and I are his pack. This pack may comfort me in different ways than Momo did, but I definitely feel their love. I comforted a little four-legged someone just as Momo comforted me in my time of need.

To adopt your own Australian Shepherd or Australian Shepherd mix, check out New Spirit 4 Aussie Rescue. 

Filed under: Love+, Pets + Animals

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Teresa Misagal

Teresa Misagal is a New York photographer, runway show manager (Anna Sui, Calvin Klein) a manager of the Blue Ribbon Sushi restaurants, and all around creative/fashion/cuisinista. Her photography has been featured everywhere from Martha Stewart to Fuji TV in Japan. She's also the creator of the blog "Dailola's Daily Dose" featuring Dailo and Lola, her two Australian Shepherds which documents their search for food, fashion and fun throughout Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

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