Well, we are fifteen days out from D-day. I haven't written because I was just trying to get though the glut of last-minute classes, and then recouperate from them. I was really having trouble coming up with lesson plans there towards the end. Some of my classes got a little bixarre there at the end. I was supposed to have my last class on Saturday, but classes on Thursday afternoon, Friday and Saturday were all canceled because students were returning to school. Sound odd? Well, generally speaking, the Chinese don't do things anywhere near as far in advance as we do---you can't buy a train ticket more than ten days in advance, and you can't buy a plane ticket more than 30 days in advance. In the US we would know the dates for returning to school at the end of the school year, but here the school doesn't tell the students the back-to-school details until a week or so in advance.
So I've been recouperating from all the end-of-work stress. I am off my RA medication because, well, I will tell you the story of Chinese hospitals another time. Suffice it to say it is disheartening at best. I have trouble taking seriously a medical institution that doesnt take patients' vitals at a doctor visit and doesn't ask about other medications before prescribing, sells antibiotics over the counter, and tells you to take them until you feel better. I have found a pretty good doctor here, but I think I'll just wait until I can get back to my American doctor (who is Asian, coincidentally, but he takes my vitals).
Anyway, here is the thing I haven't told you yet. It's also the reason (besides being run down by RA and wet weather) why I haven't felt like blogging recently. It's a little hard, honestly. Here we go.
A couple weeks ago, an acquaintance approached us about adopting Max. We were quite surprised because we hadn't really put it out there that we were looking for new homes for him. Anyway, after much discussion and interviewing, we gave Maximus to Will. Will is a couple years younger than I am. He has a good, steady job, and owns his own home in a gated community. We live in a gated community here too, but the culture is very dogophobic. Dogs as pets, especially large dogs as pets, are still pretty new in China, and that means that 1) people aren't familiar or comfortable around them, and 2) people who own them don't know how to train them properly. Poorly-trained large dogs simply perpetuate a climate of fear. When Mex was a puppy I could walk him in the courtyard off a leash, but since he's gotten bigger people have scolded both him and me for existing. You know, because we're super threatening. Small dogs and children run wild (no, seriously, WILD) but heaven forbod Max so much as sniff anyone's holy ankle.
Anyway, the climate at Will's is much different. There are tons of dogs living there, large and small, and everyone (even my old memeses, parents of small children) is comfortable with them running around in the courtyard unleashed. There are very few dog fights---there are dog play fights, but nothing truly agressive---and all the dogs we saw there were very well socialized.
Additionally, Will spent some time living in the US and in Ireland, and he knows more about dogs than most Chinese people I've met. In fact, the only person I know with a comparable amount of knowledge is Peter. Will already has a little white Scottish Terrier named Frakie, who is very calm and well-behaved; he has also owned a Golden Retriever before. We were really excited to think of Max living with another dog. They are well matched because Frankie is afraid of big dogs and Max is afraid of small dogs (they tend to react more defensively which caught young Max by surprise a time or two). Frankie has a very calm emergy, though, which is good because Max tends to be a bit nervious. We have been worried about the amount of socialization Max wasn't getting, so this will be good for him. Will also has two roommates, so the dogs won't be left alone that often.
So Max has been with Will for about a week now, and things are going really good. We haven't been to see him in person, but Peter has spoken to Will every day and we've gotten some pictures. It's been a hard decision---the house seems so empty---but we really think this is meant to be. We couldn't have asked for a better home for him. We adoped him intending to keep him forever, and we know that separating a dog from his parents is bad for him. However, he had a separation in store no matter what, thanks to Delta Airlines' "Sure, you can take a dog---wait, no you can't" flip-flopping and no-return policy. Max would have had to live with Peter's mom and her boyfriend. Mom would have taken good care of him but not had much time to walk him, and they boyfriend really didn't want to have a dog in the house (we didn't find that out until it was too late). Then there would have been a long, conflusing airplane trip, which would have been really hard on an already-nervous dog. I was genuinely worried that it would cause him psychological harm.
So that's Max's new future. We are going to visit him again before we go, and, since Will plans to stay in Xi'an long-term, we can visit him whenever we are in town. That means we'll be visiting him as often as we visit Peter's parents. You can't say fairer than that. I know it might be better for him if we don't visit at all, but, well, it will be good for me if we do.
So that's kind of had me down. It's also been kind of a relief, though, because our previous plan felt, to me, like we were doing wrong by him, but this way I really don't feel like we are.
That's the thing.