For the Love of Ivan

It had been the dream for years—to own a member of the doodle family, to experience and bestow the unconditional love I knew they were capable of. Plus, I believed he would be an emotional support for me as I dealt with the myriad of mental health issues on my plate.

Finally, on my birthday in 2020, I was notified I had been selected to have my own berniedoodle, whose name was Ivan. His cost was lower than his siblings because he didn’t have the so-sought-after tri-color markings. He was pretty much a black puppy with a little bit of white on his chest and under his nose and mouth. He had a sweet expression on beautiful face, and I fell instantly in love with just his picture.

My daughter and I took the 2-day road trip to the town where he was being socialized by a wonderful family. Neither Jordan nor I is familiar with driving in mountainous regions, and this part of the southeastern United States had plenty of them. But she didn’t complain, even in my 5-speed manual, and we arrived at our destination on a Friday morning.

Ivan was exactly like his pictures – only bigger and had lost some of his puppiness. But he was still absolutely gorgeous and so sweet.

We settled back in the car with Ivan on whom the middle name of Zoltov (because he looked a little Russian and both Ivan and Zoltov sounded Russian to me) was bestowed.

Over the next year and 2 months, Ivan was exactly the puppy I’d dreamed of.

Except. . . my young granddaughters were terrified of him because of his size. As of this writing he weighs 68 pounds and is quite muscular.

My cat never warmed up to him. He loves her; she hates him.

I came to believe I was the only human who truly loved him, and a big part of that was because of how beautiful he is.

Then came the cancer scare.

I am still under testing, and it is not known if the colon cancer has returned, but at some point I will more than likely be facing some type of abdominal surgery. 10 years ago, the colon cancer surgeries left me with a massive abdominal wound which took months to heal, an ostomy, and a bedsore which also took months to heal.

What would I do this time with my husband now gone and a 68-pound dog wanting to jump on me at every opportunity? I consulted my groomer. In the past, her partner had known someone who wanted a doodle. My groomer, who is also my cousin wanted a physical picture of him and an ad to try and rehome him. She also suggested I talk to my vet.

I called the vet, not really expecting anything. But the receptionist called me back after just a few minutes and told me one of the practice’s vets might be interested in Ivan. He called me that weekend, and I gave him the details about my puppy, but he did not call me back. . .

Until yesterday morning. Around a month later.

He said he couldn’t take Ivan because he already had a doodle, but he knew someone who might be interested. Could he give them my phone number? Yes.

I exchanged phone calls, texts, and emails with Ivan’s potential new mommy throughout the day at home and at work.

At 7 o’clock Ivan’s new family arrived. He and I were on the porch, he on his leash.

He was so excited when they got out of their SUV. It was the parents and the two younger children, an 11-year-old boy and a 14-year-old girl. Ivan was all over them. They weren’t afraid of him. Ivan really liked the dad, too; and the dad seemed to like him. The mom told me they lived on a farm. The farm had goats and a small pond. Ivan would never have to be on a leash. He would be sleeping with the boy instead of in a crate. It sounded like doggy heaven.

We loaded all Ivan’s accoutrements into their vehicle and lastly Ivan. He went willingly. I blew him a kiss, and he was gone.

As expected, I was sad after they left. I turned to my old standby to make me feel better. The local pizza place delivered their specialty within 30 minutes. My intentions were to binge on the whole 13-inch pizza.

But I have been listening recently to a lot of YouTube videos and podcasts about the neuroplasticity of the brain (transformation of the mind (Romans 12:2) and how this plasticity can be used to help one with disordered eating. Even though I haven’t fully “grasped” or put one (Ephesians 4:24) the principals, I rarely binge anymore and my problems are more in the realm of overeating. I stopped with 3 of the 8 pieces and put the rest in the refrigerator.

Then I watched the first episode of “The Chosen” once again. Even though I think I’ve seen it four times now, that last scene between Jesus and Mary Magdalene still touches something deep inside, and it did even last night. It made me forget about Ivan being gone from my life. When Jesus told Mary “You are mine,” he might have been speaking to me. It was an actor portraying Jesus, and even though he does a spectacular job, I suspect when Jesus says those to me, it will touch something even deeper within me. I eagerly await that day.

Meanwhile I used the money the family gave me for Ivan’s things to go to Menard’s for a window air conditioner. The central air at my house has not worked all summer, and I’ve limped along on fans; but I thought the window conditioner might be a good use of my “Ivan money”.

A lot of people call their air conditioners AC. My air conditioner will be called IZ which sounds a little bit like icy, and I trust that’s how I will feel tonight while going to sleep in cool comfort but without a doubt will still be missing my Ivan.

Author: jacquelinemcdougall

Christian author, daughter, sister, recent widow, mother, grandmother who has not only survived many Euroclydons (fierce storms) in life but emerged from them strengthened and victorious. My true identity, which I still struggle to wear, though, is that of daughter of the Living King.

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