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When you love someone — like Diego — let him stay

Diego, right, is happy in Los Angeles with his stepbrother, Geordie. (Photo: Todd Pritchett)

Diego, right, is happy in Los Angeles with his stepbrother, Geordie. (Photo: Todd Pritchett)

I had every intention of bringing Diego, my Chihuahua pinscher, home from L.A., where he has been living since July.

We adopted Diego three years ago and he has been one of the two loves of my life. We put a lot of love and training into him but alas he continued to bark at every stranger walking by our house. Still we loved him and he loved us.

He would go everywhere with us, snuggly in his carrier. Every day that the weather was good, Irwin would walk him all the way to Montreal West from our home and office in N.D.G. He is a tough little guy … Diego, I mean.

When we were travelling in the summer, we got into the ridiculous business of leaving him in L.A. with my daughter Amy and her partner Todd. Diego was wonderful on the plane, sitting under the seat with narry an arff.

He is also well-loved in L.A., where he plays with Amy’s daschund mix, Geordie, all day. They wrestle and kiss and sleep together and eat the especially healthy food Todd cooks for them. Geordie is a cutie too, a bit bigger, and he adores his step-brother, Diego.

When Irwin and I arrived in L.A. December 30—on our way home from Costa Rica—Diego was frantic with joy to see us, but then seemed hesitant about sleeping in our bed. He would go downstairs with Todd and Amy at night. Amy told me that the last time I took him back to Montreal, Geordie sat by the front door and waited for Diego for two weeks.

I spent two weeks with family in L.A., and the entire time I wondered what to do about Diego. Should I take him back to a cold winter, where he would sit at home all day (not entirely alone), take him away from his new family just because I loved him? Or was he better off in a warm climate, playing and getting lots of attention all day?

If only I could ask him. I kind of did. The last few days he came to cuddle me, but in the middle of the night he was gone, downstairs to Amy and Todd and Geordie. He was clearly confused. Who was his family now?

I have decided to try to live without him. I think he’s better off there, but I miss him terribly. I’d like to adopt another small rescue, but I know I’ll never find another Diego. In the meantime, my mother-in-law, Ruth, is very upset that I didn’t bring him home. “How could you leave him?” she implored. At 95, and never having had a dog or cat, she said that if she could, she would look after him when we go away in the summer. She asked if there is any way I could go and bring him back. I know how she feels. So what am I to do?

I know there are worse problems in the world and lots of animals that need a home. I also know it is ridiculous to ferry an animal across North America. But I also know he is happy in L.A.

I did what I believed was right for him, but still it’s very hard. Perhaps I will go back in March to see him. Perhaps I will talk Irwin into adopting another little pooch.

Do you have a story about an animal that you loved and lost, that changed your life? Tell us your story and we’ll try to publish it, along with a picture, in our March issue, which is dedicated to the animals we love. editor@theseniortimes.com

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