If you’ve been following for any length of time, you probably know how much I love dogs.
I take creepy videos of them, I run after them on the street so I can pet them, and any other number of “crazy dog lady” things. Although I’m not going to stop doing this, I can safely carry out a majority of it in my own home since this weekend we officially adopted a dog.
Donut is a 4 month old Australian Cattle dog/Coonhound mix. She’s incredibly sweet and extremely loving. She stayed in her crate the very first night and I can only imagine this is what people talk about when they say they have an easy baby (yes, I understand children are different just to nip that in the bud right now).
We adopted her from a local shelter here in Chicago, PAWS, which is a wonderful organization that goes to great lengths to make sure that dogs find the best homes possible.
Donut, originally named Honey Boo (ha), came from Oklahoma with three siblings. This Spring, tornadoes there displaced a number of animals and PAWS made the trip to help alleviate the burden on the local shelters. They brought her back to Chicago and here she is.
My relationship with dogs is short and simple — I always wanted one growing up, finally got one when I was an adult, royally screwed my life up, had to give her to my sister to take care of, and here we are for round two.
As much as I wanted another dog, it took a long while to get to this place, and I’m still a little wary about it.
Neil and I had talked about it for at least a year, maybe more. Just like having kids, it always felt like a “someday thing” that we knew would happen, but were never sure when. As we talked more seriously about getting one, I couldn’t help but feel apprehensive and guilty for potentially getting another dog when my first one was displaced and in the care of someone else. I cried as we talked about it at night. I argued that it wasn’t fair for me to love another dog when I still loved my first one so much.
Another thing that made me hesitant was the fear of having something happen again that would take her away. It was an irrational fear since life is back on track and we are in a stable place, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t still there. I never foresaw that when I originally got my last dog, Pinky, my life would spiral so out of control and the day I placed her in her crate and told her “I’ll be back for you this afternoon” would be the last day I saw her for nine months. It’s these unknowns that make me afraid to let go and become emotionally attached again.
It’s easy to love other people’s dogs. It’s safer to watch one for a day and then give it back because I know that nothing will happen to hurt and upset it.
It’s also easy to become closed off this way. I have to remind myself that my biggest accomplishments and the most meaningful times in my life are when I took risks and I made myself vulnerable.
When we brought Donut home, I liked her as I did with most dogs that I meet in the world. She was adorable, but I didn’t feel as connected to her. I played with her, but still felt a resistance that I wasn’t able to get past. We took naps together, she gnawed on my fingers, and we played games, but it was still hard for me to really see her as my dog.
Sunday morning I woke up and felt excited to see her. I wanted to see how she was and unquestionably carried her all the way down our high rise and walk her to keep working on her potty training. I felt myself soften a little as she curled up next to me or jumped on me after recognizing me at the dog park.
So here we are. Despite the guilt I still feel, which will hopefully dissipate over time, my relationship with animals has always been an intensely loving one. Being able to care for something helpless and give it love is something I seem to have an infinite ability and desire to do. Loving Donut in no way means that I stop loving Pinky — in fact, I wish she was closer so they could become best dog friends.
I feel that people and animals come into your life for a reason. Pinky was what I needed when I was alone and on the verge of self-destruction. She is likely the one thing that literally kept me alive because I knew it was my job to keep her alive. She is incredibly well loved and well cared for with my sister and I’m happy that the situation didn’t end in any number of worse ways.
I suppose this is the beginning of a new season. I have no idea what the future holds, but I know that it is likely time for me forgive myself for what happened seven years ago.
I am certain of one thing, however, and that is if anything can help me feel better, it’s a Donut.