I’ve been in the Shotgun for two and a half weeks, and things are coming together. I have all of my furniture, and as of Sunday, a washer and dryer. A few pictures are hung on the walls. I painted the hallway, but gave up halfway through painting the bathroom because the ceilings are too high and the floor space is too small for a ladder; I think I’ll need to hire a professional to finish the job. My curtains are up, and I’ve jerry-rigged a temporary solution for the skylight over my bed (a towel draped over two tension rods). I’m learning the oddities of the space, and despite the quirks, it’s starting to feel like home.

But the transition has been rough for Toad.

This little dog has been through more than her fair share of change in the last few years. We just passed the 2-year anniversary of her amputation, which is right around the time she came to live with me. In less than two years, she’s been through three moves, lost her dog companion when Becca got married and took Gabe with her, grew out all of her fur just to have it shaved off, and has tripped and scraped her nose more times than I can count. Through it all, she just keeps hopping along.

But my new next-door neighbor (with whom I share a wall) recently told me that when I’m not home, Toad barks. This is surprising to me, since Toad never barks when I’m around – she’s a silent, sleepy mutt who, for hours at a time, barely makes her presence known. But it appears that she has an alter ego, and as soon as I’m out the door, starts barking – and she doesn’t stop.

Last night I came home from guitar class, and had to park on the street a few houses down. As I walked toward my front door, I started to hear it – a desperate, throaty cry. “That’s not Toad,” I told myself. It couldn’t be her. But as I got closer, I knew it: my dog was barking incessantly, to the point of losing her voice, and she’d been doing this for the past 2 hours straight.

After an apology text to my neighbor, I sunk onto my bed feeling exasperated. Doesn’t this dog know that I take good care of her? Doesn’t she know that I always feed her, always make sure she has what she needs when she needs it? Doesn’t she trust that I’m never going to leave her alone, that I’m always going to come back for her?

She doesn’t believe it, so she cries. And I am no different.

How often do I buy into the lie that I’m all alone and that no one is going to take care of me? How often do I overlook the ways I have been provided for? How often do I draw conclusions based only on what I can see? How often do I assume the worst?

I’ve lived alone before, but something about being the only signature on the deed to this house has exposed my “aloneness” in a new way. Have you ever tried to hang a picture on a wall without someone standing back, telling you whether to move it higher or lower? Or deciding to change the placement of the rugs after the furniture has been set without someone else to lift the corner of the sofa? Not to mention being the only person earning money for the bank account to pay for it all. If I think about it for too long, I start to feel a lot like my little dog: frantic and afraid.

But here’s the good news: when you’re alone and you know it, you’re so much more aware of the ways in which you’re taken care of.

If I didn’t feel the full weight of my aloneness, would I feel the value of a Home Depot gift card from Luke and Maggie? Would I understand the thoughtfulness of flowers from Allie on my doorstep? Would I fully appreciate Steve coming over to drill things into the walls? Would I know the significance of Graham taking his entire Sunday afternoon to help me move a washer/dryer? Would I acknowledge the Denver map from Hitoshi, the rosemary plant from Isreal, or the bottle of wine from Erica as so meaningful? Would I read all of the well-wishing words with as much gratitude? Would I wake up each morning well aware that I’m living in a home that I didn’t even know to ask for or expect?

In the morning, I’m leaving for a 36-hour work trip, and I have an Anna-Hannah-Becca tag-team to make sure that Toad is never left home alone to bark. I don’t know what I’m going to do about this problem long-term. But despite the aloneness I am so tempted to feel, this little stressor of a dog is being provided for and taken care of – and so am I.



  1. Emily Croston on May 15, 2013 at 9:37 PM

    “How often do I overlook the ways I have been provided for? How often do I draw conclusions based only on what I can see? How often do I assume the worst?”

    I’ve been there lately…A LOT.

  2. Jessica on May 15, 2013 at 10:18 PM

    Your blog is a blessing to me, Annie. I relate to this post so much. <3

  3. Greta on May 15, 2013 at 10:38 PM

    Sigh. Good writing Annie. It’s sad and poignant and hopeful and makes me love Toad and love you, and wish I could hug Toad, and hug you.

    Also, I wish I could help you hang pictures

    I guess that’s further proof that you’re NOT alone.

    Love you.

  4. shannon on May 15, 2013 at 11:21 PM

    this is so beautifully written, annie.

    i love it.

    and i love that toad was a reminder of the truths that we are never alone or forgotten.

    love to you both and to your new humble abode :)

  5. Beth on May 15, 2013 at 11:26 PM

    As a single gal who’s been through much transition- already much in this year alone, I totally get this post and everything you expressed. I believe these years will result in a deep well of thanksgiving in the ones to come. Praying for provision and peace for sweet Toad :)

  6. Erin back in az, tonight on May 16, 2013 at 12:15 AM

    With as much flying as I’ve been doing, and now coming home to an empty house myself, and with all of the tragedy and scarey things going on….I have oft thought: if this plane goes down, no one will really even know that I’m on it. I get it, ap. I totally do…if we are alone together, we aren’t really alone any more, are we?

  7. Paul Parsons on May 16, 2013 at 6:02 AM

    Dear Annie and Toad,

    How I love both of you, in your honesty and humility. And how I love, Annie, your movement into acceptance of what is, not what you wish. And the taste of serenity that you are evidencing. I too am praying for something only God can do in your sweet dog, to give her peace as well.

    Love, Dad

  8. Kim on May 16, 2013 at 10:44 AM

    I don’t remember how I came across your blog, but I continue to visit it because I can relate to a lot of what you write about, and your stage in life. This was great–and what a great comparison–of your dog worrying when there is no need to worry. Maybe it’s because I have a new puppy myself :), but this really struck me.

    Thank you!

  9. Sarah on May 16, 2013 at 10:49 AM

    Hey Annie,

    I know this blog isn’t about a dog, but I have a pup that also barks nonstop when I’m not home. She’s better in the car – can you take toad w/ you to work, if the weather’s not blistering/ freezing?

    Have a good day!

  10. HopefulLeigh on May 16, 2013 at 12:59 PM

    This is so, so good, Annie. Letting it sink down deep.

  11. Penny on May 16, 2013 at 3:07 PM

    Toad needs a little sister to keep her company.

  12. lyndee on May 16, 2013 at 7:05 PM

    it’s nice to know we’re not alone in these feelings. i’m glad we met! :)

  13. Miranda on May 20, 2013 at 11:40 AM

    I completely relate to all of this!

  14. […] NIGHTMARES Maybe it’s the aloneness. Maybe it’s the book I’m reading. Maybe it’s watching Toad get more fragile. Maybe it’s […]

  15. Jessica Berzac on June 11, 2013 at 3:09 PM

    Wonderfully written post Annie! I commend you for blogging honestly for us to read.

Leave a Comment