His name was Dice.

Today I had to drag my sick, achy ass down to my Iowa Workforce Development office (i.e. unemployment office) to sign a paper about getting my hearing aids. Neither rain nor sleet nor creeping crud was going to keep me from completing this task. But it was hardly the in-and-out-done errand that I anticipated.

I was asked to take a seat at a table a little uncomfortably close to a job counselor and another female client. I can’t eavesdrop on someone’s conversation. I couldn’t hear any of their conversation except one part when she said (had to be loudly because hello, I heard it!) “I can’t leave without my dog!” and sobbed. For a moment, I was sucked back in time.

One reason a woman may refuse to leave an abusive relationship that you may not have thought of before is because they can’t take their pet or don’t have anyone who can take it/them. Do you think if someone is abusing you, that they would hesitate to abuse something/someone near and dear to you, such as your dog or cat? Fluffy or Fido; that’s the first thing on the mind of an abused woman and the last thing on the mind of everyone else. If I leave, what will happen to them?

As this woman cried quietly, I closed my eyes for just a moment and I was back there. Packing quickly, my heart thumping wildly in fear. Since I didn’t even have time to get boxes, I was just throwing things into black garbage bags; breathing so ragged, I was working through a stitchy cramp in my side. I threw all those bags out the back door onto the snow-dusted porch for my step-dad to pick up shortly; I would already be on my way out of town. Before I left, I thought, what will I do with the puppy? I paused a moment and thought, his family won’t let him hurt the puppy, no matter how enraged he was going to be when he found I was not home. We lived with his mom and dad and two brothers, and I felt that they would take care of him until I could send friends for him in a few days.

The wave of crisis rose and fell that weekend. I left. Police were called, tearful conversations were had, promises that had rang empty in the past waived their tattered banners for the final time. This time I had made sure that I didn’t meet him alone while I knew I still couldn’t trust my own judgement. Yet I felt free for the first time in almost five years.

The people who I was staying with had agreed to let me have my puppy with me at their house, and my best friend and his father went out to The Girl Beater’s house to get him. I waited for them to return, still reveling in the rather exhilarating feelings, almost manic, that I hadn’t had in years. As I emptied black bags and put things away, I had a small nagging doubt niggling in the back of my mind, but I batted it away, determined to enjoy my new found lightness of being. I heard the truck rumble up the driveway and I hurried out, anxious to see my pup after five days away from him.

But something was wrong.

My best friend and his dad walked up to the front porch where I had burst out of the door, cold air zinging my lungs.

As they raised their faces yet said nothing, I knew.

It was too late. He was gone.

I shook my head, hard, angry at the tears that were squeezing from my eyes. My best friend’s dad hugged me close and let me cry. “We buried him properly. We’ll take you to say goodbye.” he almost whispered, as my best friend wiped tears from both sides of the top of his nose, guy-style. “I’m so sorry, honey,” he said.

They told me later that The Girl Beater, his mother, his father, and two adult brothers had simply put the puppy in the basement and ceased to provide water and food. You see, those were the “consequences” of my leaving without making arrangements for his care and feeding. Five adults listened to a puppy cry until he couldn’t anymore.

I opened my eyes, the moment over; and was almost surprised at my surroundings, the flashback was so vivid. The woman was still crying quietly. The counselor sat across from her, cool and detached. My guy popped around the corner and said, “Hey, Dory, you ready?”

I got up and on the way back down the hallway, I shook, just a couple jerks, as if I could shake off those old recollections.

20 thoughts on “His name was Dice.

  1. WHOA.

    This is so good, hon. I mean, besides the fact that it broke my heart.

    You’re so right about the pet factor, it’s a HUGE concern. That’s why so many animal shelters are partnering with women’s shelters these days.

    I’m so sorry this happened to you. I can’t imagine what that must have felt like. I hope when my new site is up and running, you’ll share your story.

    Beautiful, beautiful job on this post.

    maggie, dammits last blog post..I had no idea I would feel this way.

  2. Oh, God… I followed Maggie here, and while I’m glad I did — this opened my eyes to something I never, ever considered before — that story absolutely crushed me. I’m sorry you ever had to go through this. Thank you for sharing it.

    Missives From Suburbias last blog post..Blue Who?

  3. As a survivor of domestic abuse, I can relate, I was SO afraid of leaving my dog. I left in the middle of the night, My dog was lucky, he ran away and I found him at the shelter. Thanks for sharing your heartbreaking story.

  4. I cannot imagine (another Maggie follower here)…this is brought up a lot here in San Diego and the place that one radio station here helps to fund (Becky’s House) has taken animals from the start for just this reason.

    Christinas last blog post..Obama Mama

  5. I also followed Maggie here.

    I can’t even begin imagine what kind of heartbreak that must have been on top of everything else you’ve been through. I’m so sorry. It never occurred to me that this would be a concern. I hope more shelters and rescues partner with women’s shelters.

    I’ve been thinking about stepping up and volunteering and your story propels me forward.

    Mos last blog post..Random Musing

  6. Another Maggie follower…

    Wow. My ears are hot with rage over what these terrible people did to the poor little puppy. My heart breaks for you and this realization. People like that should be shot out into space because they just don’t deserve to breathe the same air as decent people.

    I am so sorry you went through all of that. Your writing style is excellent, and unfortunately, I felt like I was there.

    I have a minor in Women’s Studies and my heart broke over and over learning about the terrible things women endure for “love”. I am happy that you got out. Good luck to you.

    Elizabeths last blog post..Down the Rabbit Hole

  7. OMG, that was very sad! 😥 But so good! Maybe u should write as a sicky more often. jk! So sorry you had to go thru that once, let alone every time something like that comes around again. Luv ya!

  8. @all:
    So many new visitors! That makes me so dang happy! Thanks for coming to visit, and I hope you’ll be back!

    @maggie, dammit:
    Thank you SOOO much, maggie. That really means a lot to me. I’d be honored to share my story on your site someday.

    @Missives From Suburbia:
    You’re very welcome, it was my pleasure.

    Ah, a fellow survivor! I’m so glad that you and your dog had a happy ending. You’re welcome!

    Keep up the great work with the animals– it’s more than work, it’s a ministry. Thank you very much for your contribution.

    I’m really glad that there is an awareness of this issue in your area!

    I’m glad to raise awareness, and good luck with the volunteer work! I’m sure it will be very fulfilling!

    Thank you, that means a lot to me. 🙂

    I love you wuh-maaaan!

  9. OMG, this is really infuriating AND heart-breaking. Poor puppy. Poor Dory. 😥 Sometimes you have to save yourself, but the choices are so hard. I had to yank myself away from a toxic relationship once, but there weren’t any other vulnerable parties involved. That was hard enough. I can see how this would haunt you. 🙁

    Maries last blog post..Bagging It

  10. @Marie:
    I’m so sorry for the delay, hon… this comment got lost in the shuffle. Please forgive me! Thanks for your support, I really appreciate it. I’m glad you are a survivor, too. This incident happened in January 1993, but it still haunts me to this day. I just can’t help thinking how scared he must have been, and then weak, and then all alone while he heard activity going on in the main floor above him. It makes me so sad sometimes, I can hardly stand it. And I feel like it was my fault for assuming they would care for him. I never thought five adults would be capable of such an inhumane act.
    Argh! Sorry, I didn’t mean to get so sappy!

  11. OMG- I am sitting at work- tears running down my face. I cant imagine the pain. But I am so, so, so glad you got out.
    Thanks for sharing this story.

  12. @Fran:
    Thanks for the compliment, AND for your support. And you’re welcome; it was my pleasure.

    @pamela from the dayton time:
    Thanks, hon. I wish he had learned something, but currently he’s on trial for kidnapping and rape of another woman. I wish I would have the courage to speak up earlier. Better late than never, I guess.

    @Jill Watkins:
    You’re so very welcome, hon. Thank YOU for the support.

  13. Found this from Five Star Friday…not exactly the light reading I was hoping for but extremely well written and a concern I had not thought of, thank for opening my eyes.

  14. I know.
    Truly I do.
    I really, really do.
    Of course, that’s always a stupid thing to say, because I’m *not* you, and I can’t really ever feel like you feel. But I don’t know any other words to try to get to you what I’m trying to get across…. so.

    I understand. And I am sorry. And you are not alone. 🙂

    take care,

  15. I’ll never understand how people could hurt animals, especially out of spite. But then again, I don’t understand people who abuse other people, either. I’m so glad you got away and I’m very sorry about Dice.

    (I was planning on making a donation to the women’s shelter here. I think I’ll do that this week and then make another one to my favorite animal rescue group)

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