*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events I experienced firsthand; used with permission.
It wasn't until years later I found out what that really meant.
When my husband and I split after nearly five years of marriage, he kept the dog.
We both loved that dog, but I truly believed the dog loved him more. That's why I moved out with nothing but my car and the clothes on my back and asked for nothing, including the dog. I just wanted to be done with everything, and I felt like I was leaving our dog in capable and loving hands.
My husband and our dog were as thick as thieves.
Although I regretted nearly everything about our marriage, I didn't regret allowing my dog to stay behind following my divorce because I thought she'd be safe, loved, and cared for. I reasoned it would be better for her to remain in the yard, house, and bed to which she'd become accustomed. Years later, I learned I was wrong.
As it turned out, my husband did not feel equipped to be the sole caretaker of a small, needy dog. He turned to his mother for help. Ten years after my divorce, a family member told me that my mother-in-law had taken the dog to a farm shortly after I moved out of the house my husband and I had shared.
"She took the dog to a farm?" I asked. I was incredulous. It just seemed weird. Why would my mother-in-law bring my dog to a farm?
"Yes," my informant said. "When your ex couldn't take care of her anymore, his mother brought the dog to a farm where there was plenty of room for her to run and play."
"How much room did she need?" I asked. "She was a lapdog." I felt baffled and upset. Why hadn't someone contacted me about taking the dog? I would gladly have taken her to live with me at my parents' house. We actually had plenty of room for her to run and play, unlike this imaginary farm where my mother-in-law had supposedly brought her.
Something about the story didn't quite sit right with me. However, I believed it even though it gave me an uneasy feeling. I think I believed the story because it was better than the alternative.
It wasn't until several years after that conversation that I learned "taking the dog to the farm" was a euphemism for something much darker. As Urban Dictionary explains it, "Going to live on a farm" is "the lie your parents told you when your dog died."
Since the dog was still very much alive when my former mother-in-law picked her up from my ex-husband's house, I assume she had the dog euthanized. Perhaps she dropped her off at the dog pound where she found a new family to love, but I doubt it. The only thing she didn't do was bring her to a farm where there was "plenty of room for her to run and play."
I realize that now, but it's many years too late for me to do anything about it.