Dear Dog People of America,
I am writing to you today in an effort to merge our two worlds: the world of
people that cry during animal rescue commercials, and the world of people that do not cry during animal rescue commercials. I fall in to the please keep reading so you don’t hate me category…
You see much like Elsa, I’ve spent most of my life in the icy world of Arendelle where it is eternal winter and dogs are not allowed… In my heart. Well, I mean, they’re allowed, but because it’s so cold, they’re just not welcome.
The only pet I ever had was a black cat given to me by best friend Tiffany when I was 6 years old. We called her “Sweetie,” but sweet she was not. I don’t remember how, or why, but Sweetie didn’t live with my mom and I for very long. Everyone in my family had animals: My Nana had a dog named Winkie- a black Cockapoo that I adored. My aunt had this huge sheep dog named Chelsea and I loved to lay on her because she reminded me of Snuffleupagus. My Dad and Stepmom had a few dogs through the years; my favorite was a Golden retriever named Travis… Until he ran away… or killed a neighbor. Either way, he wasn’t around forever. And the other animals… well they eventually died too, and I don’t think I was heartbroken. I loved them but I didn’t loooooove them.
As time went on and I got older, that genetic makeup that some most of you have that gives you the feeling of wanting to hug and kiss any dog you see on the street, never evolved. It’s not like it was just dogs either, it was pretty much all animals. Listen, I cried while reading Gorillas in the Mist like the rest of you, but touching one at the Zoo would probably give me the willies. God help me if I had a friend with a rabbit. EW. And don’t even get me started on pet birds or birds in general. DISGUSTING. They should be extinct. (I mean, you realize you’re talking to someone that flushed fish down the toilet as a ritual on Purim right?)
It became very apparent as I entered adulthood that I was very different from the rest of the world: I was not an animal person.
When Peter and I started dating, we bonded over the fact that neither of us felt that pull towards our primate counterparts. We rolled our eyes at our friends that were content with their “fur babies.” Not us. We were building a HUMAN family. And by the way, is it necessary for our friends to insist we meet at a restaurant where they can bring Muffy the lab? Or how about that I don’t really feel like having my crotch sniffed every time we visit friends with Tank the German Shepherd. It wasn’t our thing. HOWEVER, I always found my friends’ photos of their babies and puppies nuzzled together simply adorable and hoped that maybe, just MAYBE my predisposition to a life without animal love might change. Maybe, just MAYBE my social feeds would be filled with darling images of my children cuddling our puppy.
So, in November of 2016, on a very purposeful whim, we got Apple.
Purposeful and whim. I know. They don’t go together. But they do.
See there were a couple of things happening, all of which were related and led to this divine moment where we went home with a dog on November 19, 2016.
• I turned 40 in September of 2016 and we wanted another baby and were open to “trying” again in October or November.
• At some point in (his) life, I promised Jonah a dog when he turned 10.
• 10 would happen in September of 2017; which might also be the time when I possibly maybe could have a baby if things go smoothly in the “trying” department. And if I’m being honest, history had proven that I didn’t need to “try” very hard.
• Our neighbors had the cutest dog and Oliver was obsessed with her. He was due for another surgery in December. Impressionable would be an understatement in our emotional department.
• Trump was elected president.
So TO SUM IT UP: On November 16th, we decided to head to the adoption event (where our neighbors had gotten their dog years before) because Oliver was cute with their dog, I didn’t want to have a new puppy at the same time as a new baby, and Trump was now president so the world was coming to an end anyway.
What we didn’t know (because again, we are not animal people), is that you don’t go to a fucking animal adoption WITH YOUR YOUNG CHILDREN to “check it out.” Because if you have any semblance of a heart (which despite what you’re thinking, I swear I do), you don’t LEAVE without a goddman pet. A PET THAT IS NOT THE PET THAT YOU THOUGHT YOU WERE LEAVING WITH. (Mistake #1 & #2). Let me backtrack: So we go to this event and there are teeny tiny puppies in cribs all around the room. It’s crowded and crazy and we notice one crib of puppies with a couple “Shih-tzus.” One by the name of Apple… She’s like 4lbs, 4 weeks old, and of course is looking right at us and saying “If you take me home, I will be your best friend forever.”
“AWWWWWW,” we all say together as Jonah lifts her out of the crib. She’s gorgeous. Blue eyes, soft fur. A defining grey spot. I mean, doesn’t get cuter than this. I track down one of the people working for the rescue and ask about Apple. She tells me she was in an alley with the rest of her brothers and sisters (so I guess she was found?) She had some issues with worms and some infection, but she’s fine now. BUT she has already been spayed (which I didn’t know was a bad thing considering she was only 4 weeks old!), has the microchip, AND she is a SHIH-TZU and IS HYPOALLERGENIC AND WILL. NOT. SHED. “AT ALL.”
She even takes out her phone and shows me pictures of her dogs who are also Shih Tzu terrier mixes and they “make the best dogs in the world. Especially if you or kids have allergies.” PERFECT!
Just to make completely sure, we also track down the head of the rescue – the guy who apparently REALLY knows about dogs and different breeds. HE tells us that Apple was with a family and they couldn’t take care of all the dogs… This of course conflicts with what the other woman told us, but I wonder if it matters as she’s okay now (has been de-wormed and spayed and appears to be healthy). He TOO confirms that she’s a Shihtzu and won’t shed or cause me to cough up phlegm for 6 straight months. (Ooops… jumping ahead here!)
SO… a little bit of paperwork, a lovely donation of $500 to the rescue and a swift kick in the ass (Uh, just head to aisle 3 to pick up food and a leash and you’re good to go), and we are out of there. No really, that was it. Signed some shit, got some copies of her first vet visit and the microchip and they sent us on our way. A home visit was not required nor was it requested.
And like that, we had a puppy home with us.
ALL (and I mean ALL of our friends) nearly DIED when we told them about the newest member of our family because well, WE DON’T LIKE ARE NOT animal people. BUT we assured them that now was a good time. We had seen the light and while not at all not entirely thought through, we were ready for Apple and would TURN INTO the kinds of people that know what to do with a puppy and don’t need to call everyone they know to ask how to take a dog on a walk or when/if she needs water.
At first, (and by first I mean the first 24 hours), we thought Apple was the chillest dog ever. We thought she exuded ZERO puppy characteristics and we hit the jackpot.
Then she started pooping and peeing everywhere (important) and we realized we knew nothing about dogs.
Months and thousands of dollars spent on training and super LA healthy dog stuff later, we found ourselves still struggling to weave Apple into our lives seamlessly. Well, also maybe the fact that we were still overcoming the emotional and physical recovery from Oliver’s surgery, a move to a new house, and oh, the arrival of Everett (also known as my third child). So yeah. We were/are fermisht, to say the least. (You can find the definition to Fermisht here, my non-Yiddish loves).
Look, here’s the deal: Most of you don’t need to “remember” to take out your dog for a walk. Or you don’t have to ask other people in your house, “Has anyone spent time holding and cuddling Apple today?” OR you don’t have babies and toddlers that play with toys ON THE FLOOR, that inevitably end up in your baby/toddler puppy’s mouth. Right? You have either an older dog or an older child, and are not constantly finding Minnie Mouse’s shoes, or Thomas the Train’s engine in your dog’s poo and then wondering when the day will come that you will have to make the agonizing decision of whether you should agree to the $6,000 surgery to remove Percy from her butthole or not. (You automatically say, “Anything it takes!” WE say, “Fuuuuuuuuuck me.”) And here’s the thing, it’s not that I wish ill will on animals or even that I don’t care- I DO. HOWEVER, the reality of OUR situation was that I have two children that will be playing on the floor with small toxic Chinese-made toys for at least another 4 years. And while chewing is what puppies do, I’m going to choose my kid’s development over a puppy’s habit any and every time. (Just for the record, she chewed up the eco-friendly wood stuff too. Don’t even get me started on the fear I had about splinter’s in her butt).
SO… one night we had the talk. We had had many talks about how Apple was hard for us but this was different. This was happening. We needed to find her a better home… And a home that wouldn’t be suffering from terrible allergies as I was (it had gotten worse and worse over the months). Devastated and feeling guilty that it was his fault and he should have been a better “brother,” Jonah cried and asked that we make sure that we’d find the best, most amazing home for Apple. I explained to him that it’s not like we were awful to her. In essence, we fostered her for a year. We took good care of her and gave her a nice home to live in. But we weren’t her “forever” home. (“The sun’ll come out tomorrrrooooowww…”)
That night, literally minutes after our talk, as I was walking Apple, a neighbor who I always knew had a “thing” for Apple (and all dogs in general) walked by and gave her nightly hugs to Apple. I said, “I’m glad I ran into you. We came to a tough decision, but I think it’s time that we—“
“I was waiting for this day. I will help you find a home for her.”
“Wait, wha-“ How in the fuck did she know I was talking about Apple and not perhaps, getting a divorce, or I don’t know, getting rid of one my other kids. Was I that bad of an owner?
“I knew a day would come when you would ask for my help. You’re overwhelmed, I can see it. It’s okay. You have a lot going on. Having a puppy with two babies is not easy. We’ll find her an awesome home.”
So apparently our struggle was not only real, but obvious!
Less than a week later, I agreed to send Apple to a foster family via a Rescue Agency that had another dog and cat (after an initial “test” visit, it was determined that Apple got along with them swimmingly). From there, she would be adopted…. Only she wasn’t… well she was… but not by another family. The Foster Family fell in love with her and couldn’t let her go! THIS FOSTER HOME HAS TAKEN IN DOZENS OF DOGS OVER THE YEARS AND FOUND THEM OTHER HOMES, BUT NOT OUR APPLE! THEY HAD TO HAVE HER! AND did I mention that one of my good friends happens to know the woman who adopted her. Apple is now in a home with an older dog, a young cat, and a woman who makes amazing baked goods AND welcomes the opportunity for the boys to visit her any time. Apple literally got adopted by Daddy Warbucks (wait, does that make me Miss Hannigan?!)
SO, Dog People of America, now that you’ve heard my story and have either decided that I’m the devil, an irresponsible human, or just annoyingly wordy (that has nothing to do with this dog thing, but I realize this letter is quite long), I am THANKING YOU for being the fur baby loving crazy people that we are not, and will likely never be. THANK YOU for your dog doting Instagram feeds and babies nuzzled next to your puppy. They are so cute! SO cute in fact it made me think that it was something I wanted to have too and something that I could handle. But alas, I have learned the truth, the hard way, and even the little sad way. My feed is meant for curly haired 2 year olds with dirty glasses nuzzled against a sass-mouthed 10 year old, with a 6 month old baby waving his hands in the background to be noticed. My feed is for recipes that I’m trying and inevitably fucking up. It’s for random date night pics, pretty sunrise and sunsets, faces with filters, and pictures of coffee or wine (because that’s what gets me through life). You won’t find dogs on my Insta or in my world, and I’m now okay with that. Are you? Can we still be friends?
Speaking of friends, can you please tell YOUR friends to stop bringing their dogs to Starbucks? I’m pretty sure dogs are not supposed to have coffee.