Friday, April 26, 2019
SO. I got a dog. This has been an idea that I’ve been entertaining for about a year now. I know my friends who know me are probably like, “WHAT?! SALISHA you HATE animals!” Friends. I have come a long way since I was bit on the face by a German Shepherd many years ago. I actually have surprised even myself. I’ve been looking to adopt and have been visiting shelters and was approved at the two adopting agencies that resonated with me (Social Tees and Muddy Paws Rescue)! But I may have found a goldmine with my friend who is moving out of the city and can no longer keep his doggie.
His name is Benny. (I've been singing Benny and the Jets for weeks now.) He’s a gentle two year old Shih Tzu with white and brown fur. Prior to this week, Benny and I have been on two dates. And both times, my heart has completely swooned. From what I could tell, Benny was gentle, which is SO important to me because any aggression in a dog completely unravels me. I get so nervous and honestly just so scared all over again. But this dog was not that. He didn’t bark during our many hours together except when someone was at the door. And even then it wasn’t excessive. He seemed to love being scratched and pet. He was really good at playing fetch. Walking Benny was my first time ever walking any dog and it made me feel… I don’t know! It made me feel a little protective. Like for the first time in my life, I had to be aware of something other than myself and make sure that he wasn’t running out into traffic or approaching someone who may be uncomfortable with doggies, etc. I felt… responsible and maybe even a little important. I liked it!
My friend had already moved out of the city and so Benny was staying with a close friend of his. Benny had been with him a while and it was obvious the two had a very tight bond. His name is Yoe. Yoe was so helpful and awesome to communicate with throughout this entire adoption process. Truly. He and I came up with a great plan since I was so worried about being a first time Dog Mom: I would take Benny and keep him for five (5) days. And then I would decide if it’s a responsibility that I could realistically take on.
And so that’s what I did. I had a blast dog-proofing my home and window shopping for the cutest collars and harnesses. I already decided that Benny would be wearing a lot of pink. I bought wee wee pads and a large gate to give him plenty of space to play in while I’m away or if I had a guest who might be uncomfortable with animals.
Fast forward to when I was alone with Benny for the first time on the train ride from Queens all the way to Washington Heights. I was so scared. The train got crowded very quickly and I wasn’t sure how Benny was going to react. I didn’t know how he was around other people or children. I was just praying and hoping for the best. But honestly… a couple minutes had passed and I realized…everyone was looking at us and smiling at us. It was—AWESOME. People kept saying to me, “Your dog is SMILING!” And he was. A full blown, open mouth, showing-all-your-gums Smile! Other people started asking me how I get him to be so chill and well mannered! And I’d tell them it was my first day! And they’d shower me with encouragement.
Fast forward to today. I don’t have Benny anymore.
I know. What the heck. What happened?
I promise I was chill when I walked him for an hour and he never used the bathroom, but instead waited til he got to my apartment to pee on my floor. I promise I didn’t get cray when he woke me up at 4AM to play. I was even patient and CALM when he would growl at me for scratching his belly even though he was laying on his back and begging to be loved. This dog would not go near the play pen I bought for him. He wanted nothing to do with it. And if I went to pick him up, he would growl at me…so I let him be. I noticed he didn’t touch any furniture or my shoes, which I appreciated. He seemed very chill and easy tempered. SO. I didn’t bother with the play pen and let him stay in my bedroom area when I had to leave. I set up his cozy little bed, food and water bowl, a wee wee pad and his favorite toy in my room and I shut the doors. And when I came back, everything was as I left it. He was eating his food and drinking his water. In one day’s time, he learned to use the bathroom outside. I picked up poop for the first time ever. I used the bag wrong, but that’s another story for another day.
I was maybe 16 hours in to this fostering adventure when it happened. I was trying to get him to come. He would not come. So I got a treat out, and said, “Benny. Come.” And he DID! I praised him. He took his sweet time. But he came. I said, “Benny. Sit.” He sat. So now, I gave him his treat. He ate it. When he was done eating, I said, “Good boy, Benny!” and I gave him a warm pet on the back.
And then. He growled. And he bit me. And yes, he broke the skin.
I was scared and hurt and I felt betrayed. And I cried like a little baby. In that moment I was instantly transported to when I was attacked by the German Shepherd. And I realized that no. This is not for me. I am not ready. Not one bit. I’m sure there are many people who could work through this. But I’m not one of them. I called Yoe as I balled my eyes out. And he jumped in his car and came over right away. And do you know what? I stood on my couch for the next two hours waiting for Yoe to get to my home from Long Island. And I was so scared. And so hungry. But too scared to leave where I was standing on my couch. I wasn’t sure how I was going to answer the door when it was time. But I was brave. And I did it.
Yoe came, and Benny was so happy to see him. And I told Yoe…I just can’t do this. I’ve been afraid in my own home all day. I’m not ready for this. He asked me if I was sure. I said yes.
Here’s the good news: Yoe decided to keep Benny for good! So it turns out that everyone wins. I realized that I’m probably never going to have a dog for the rest of my life. And Benny gets a forever home with someone he already loves. AND Yoe missed Benny so much. So.
A moment of clarity for us all.
In all this, I learned that I really do deeply appreciate coming home to an empty apartment. No roommates. No animals. Just peace, quiet, and Netflix. I tried. And it didn’t work out. This experience definitely put me out of my comfort zone but I’m glad for it. I’d been wondering about this for long enough, and I’m so happy that I was able to try it out instead of wondering my whole life if I’d be any good at it. Life is too short for regrets. The beautiful part is that Benny doesn’t have to go near a shelter. He’ll have a lot of love in his new forever home.