Feb 2, 2012 0
(Originally Published on The Huffington Post – 1/25/2012)
I grew up in a house without pets and never had any animal friends, so I didn’t know that I liked them until I was an adult. When I was in my early 20s I met a small Australian Border Collie named Isabel. She was a ginger like me and took to me right off the bat. I was resistant to her love at first, as I had grown up thinking dogs were dirty and smelly and ate their own poop (which they sometimes are and generally do). Isabel peed on my brand-new, silver, Prada sneakers the first time we met, so it was a rocky start, but she was persistent, and she adored me to no end. Eventually, the feeling was mutual, and I relished how easy it was to interact with another living being on such a basic level. I didn’t mind how dirty and smelly she was because she was such a good listener. I could tell she really was glad I was there when we were hanging out, and she didn’t want anything from me other than for me to spend time with her. We were kindred spirits (aside from the dirty, smelly bit), but Isabel was not my dog, and when I moved out of the house I was staying at with her human, we didn’t see much of each other again.
A few years later, another close friend got a hamster-sized teacup Pomeranian puppy named Dutch (who was also a ginger beast), but my friend was traveling a lot, and this new baby was a particular brand of high maintenance that wasn’t a great fit for her. When he was just 3 months old, he was kidnapped from the front yard by neighbor kids, and it took nearly three weeks for a private investigator to locate him. Whatever happened to him during this experience left the poor dear a bit fearful and needy, which I could really relate to at the time, so I offered myself up as the official dogsitter and brought him home with me.
I had never been around such a tiny creature before. He was so quiet and sweet. All this dog wanted to do was be held and reassured that everything was fine now, which I was happy to do for him. In some way I am sure I was doing this for us both, or we for each other. Our bond was strong and fast, and when my friend came home from her travels, I had a long talk with her about how her newborn dog and I had fallen in love and probably needed to just stay together. I said I would be happy to keep him for her if she was still feeling stressed about his needs. I think she could tell that I also had needs in the moment, namely something to look after, love, and be loved by. After much consideration she agreed that, with all the travel, it might be better for him to stay with me. I burst into tears and thanked her, my heart suddenly unbroken. Dutch spent the night with her that evening, and the next day he came to stay with me permanently.
I was living in a place that didn’t allow dogs back then, but I figured that because he never made a sound, it would be fine. Of course, I was wrong. The little devil found his voice while I was at work one day just after his first birthday, and my landlord busted me for having him. We moved out shortly thereafter, into a place where he could be free to speak when he wanted, and where I didn’t have to smuggle him out to do his business three times a day. This place had a yard, and he was so happy there. I spent hours upon hours watching him run around in circles amongst the trees. He was so energetic at that age, and I was thrilled that I had suddenly been thrust into motherhood. He went everywhere with me, and it was the first time in my life that I felt like I had a purpose, something to get out of bed for in the morning. Keeping this cute thing happy and alive kept me feeling happy and alive, and I promised Dutch (and myself) that from that moment on, nothing bad was going to happen to him again.
In 2005 my world fell apart, and I relapsed into a Read the rest of this entry »Tweet