Lemme tell you about my dog.
I know you’ve heard a lot about her, but there’s more. There’s always more.
She goes by Daphne, Daphers, the Dapher-doo, The Beast, Puppers, Dog, HEY, and Daph-NEEE-eee. She is the licker-of-faces, barker-at-strangers, lunger-at-traffic, and cleaner-of-kitty-tootsie-rolls. She is sweet and cuddly and runs like a deer, and she gets into a lot of trouble. She is way undersocialized, but I no longer describe her, without exaggeration, as “broken.”
I have referenced her story a lot, but if I were reading this blog instead of writing it, I’d be all, “Hey! I love dogs! I want to hear about your dog!” And I try to write to the “me”s out there, so here you go. And if you don’t want to read about my dog, well, skip it, no hard feelings, I’ll complain some more about wedding napkin colors later.
I have wanted a dog since I was about two. Or at least that is when my parents started hearing about it. They got me a dog for my fifth birthday, but really she was my dad’s dog, and then for all the years after that they wouldn’t let me get a dog because I “already had one.” Clever, Mom and Dad, very clever.
When I was 22, I moved into a co-op that had previously had a dog, and they were open to the prospect of another one joining the household. Shortly after I moved in, Turtle suggested we stop at a shelter (puppies only) that was on the way to a festival we were going to. Since it was puppies only, it seemed safe – I knew I wanted an adult dog, and I was pretty sure they didn’t have any. When we got there, I asked if they had any adults, mostly, I think, so that they knew I was “serious.” And they said they had a ten-month old, Luna.
Dear Shelter –
This is not a flattering picture of this dog.
So, fine. They let me into her run. I go to pet her and she runs away. So I try to walk out, and she follows me. Then, when I try to pet her, she runs away again. Her picture was unflattering, she won’t let me touch her… fine. I’m not interested. And then when I try to leave again, she barks at me.
Guys, she totally wanted to be my best friend.
(Note: When you go to adopt a dog for the first time, remember that the dog does not have some psychic connection with you. Her running away and then barking is not necessarily a sign that you two are meant to be – more likely it is a sign that she does not know how to trust or how to communicate, and if you’re going for a well-adjusted dog to live in a group home/co-op, this may not be the dog for you.)
Bird-at-that-time did not think any of these noted things. Once we petted her, we were in love. She licked Turtle’s face. We were goners. My housemate/landlord man said okay, and I brought her home, where she proceeded to be terrified of every single person I lived with, took six months to go near my brother, and barked aggressively at snowmen. Because you never know when a snowman might attack!
She has come a long, long way since then. One puppy class, one adult obedience class, a whole lot of day-to-day practice, two moves, and one Awesome Veterinarian later, we are on our way to easy living with The Beast. She gets along well with cats and both of our family members. We learned recently from the above-mentioned Awesome Vet that she responds really well to dominance and direction, so we now have visitors run her through her paces when they arrive and she loves them within minutes. It’s like magic. We can take her out in public and even had a housewarming party without the dog having a heart attack or a human attack.
The other day someone was walking up to us, someone I wasn’t comfortable telling, “Please don’t pet her, she’s unpredictable,” or “She might jump at you,” or, “Sorry, she’s undersocialized, but it’s not my fault.” So I said, “She’s a rescue.” And the woman’s face lit up with understanding and she said, “Oooh, yes. I understand.” And she looked at me like I was a hero.
But, you guys, I did not rescue this dog. I just adopted her. Yes, she was on sale – one hundred dollars instead of the four hundred they usually charge (shouldn’t this have been a warning?). Yes, I do often think she’s a little defective (but would I ever want an animal that wasn’t?). Yes, she would be a handful for anyone to take in. But I did not pick her up off the streets, I did not save her from certain death, and she actually got along very well with all of the staff at the animal shelter. I don’t think that if we had gotten in our car and driven away and never looked back, she would have been a lost cause.
I felt like an idiot. But it got the point across. This dog has some issues, and they’re not my fault, and I’m doing what I can to fix them. Sometimes I need to be a little stronger or louder than I am (if “please don’t pet my dog” doesn’t work three times in a row, I will resort to, “My dog might bite you,” even though I don’t really think that’s true. More like, she might lick you suggestively.), and sometimes I need to be responsible for changing the environment or changing where her attention is.
Anyway, like everything else in my life, this beast is a work in progress, and one I am thoroughly enjoying. Also, I got bored talking about her in the middle of writing this. I’d rather cuddle her. Side note: while we have been sleeping on the living room floor, she likes to sleep next to the mattress. Cuddliest dog ever.
Now, who wants to petsit?