For Love of the Dog (Project 52, Week 4)

I didn’t think I’d become one of those types of people.  The kind that dress their dogs in shoes and jackets, carry them in handbags, and speak to them in baby talk. The kind who disregard people on behalf of their dog (once, my colleague at the vet clinic was working on some paperwork at the front desk while some clients milled around in the lobby. One client came toward the desk and asked “How are you today?” My colleague replied along the lines of, “I’m good, thanks.” The client looked at her and said, “I wasn’t talking to you; I was talking to the dog.” Nice.)

Well, I’m not really one of those people. Sgt. Pepper is too big for handbags. And while she’s willing to wear clothes, she’s so skinny that most stuff doesn’t fit her well, and slides from side to side. Clothing also blocks access to her harness; the most pragmatic item of clothing she has is a pink raincoat, but it’s a hassle to deal with when I need clip a leash to her harness. (The raincoat came from her foster mom; I remember when she gave it to me I asked her if Pepper would wear it. “She loves it!” foster mom said).

So, I’m not quite one of those people. What I am, however, is a person who is thrilled when Pepper meets me at the door when I get home from work. I typically greet her first, though I try not to linger over her too long for fear my husband will notice that she is usurping his greeting. I’m a person who waves to my dog from the car when I see her through the front window, standing on the back of the love seat, poking her head through blinds, watching me leave the house. On one occasion, when I was leaving to drive to Ohio, I backed out of my driveway and saw Pep watching me from the window.  After several minutes of watching her peer out the window at my car, I decided I couldn’t leave her behind and pulled back into the driveway to pack her travel bag and take her along. She was thrilled; I could tell by the wag in her tail. I’m a person who flops on a chair and encourages Pep to join me, and then I rub her belly, and massage her ears, and hold her face in my hands and talk to her in baby talk, and shower her with more attention than is probably necessary (it’s all quite ridiculous, I assure you).

I’m a person who is unnecessarily forlorn at the prospect of leaving Pep behind when my husband and I take a trip later this year. Pep is 7-years-old and hasn’t had the easiest life. She was found as a stray by animal control, and then was taken in by the Animal Protective League. When she was at her foster mom’s, she escaped from the backyard and was gone for 10 days. They found her 5-10 miles away from where she started. She’s very shy around new people and if you move toward her too quickly, she’ll squeal in anticipation of you kicking her. My step-dad is convinced she was abused; I think she was probably shoved or kicked out of the way a lot by her previous owner. It’s the only explanation I can think of for why she’s so skittish and fearful around people’s feet (she comes up to about the middle of my shin, so she’s not a very big dog). She’s very affectionate though, and loves to cuddle, so I don’t know that she was abused.

She hates being kenneled, and barks incessantly when she finds herself in one. I hate the prospect of leaving her at a kennel–she’s not a fan of other dogs, and I hate to think that she’ll think she’s been abandoned again. (Yes, I know she doesn’t have the capacity to think in such terms, but I know she’d be scared. That much I know.) I’m becoming the type of person who considers rearranging all of her plans in order to accommodate her dog. I adore traveling more than almost anything, but a couple of times I thought perhaps it would be best if I stayed behind with Pep. However, I haven’t gone out of my head quite that much, and am most definitely going on this trip. (All of the other trips I have planned for this year are with friends or family members, so I don’t have to worry about Pep’s accommodations–my husband will be home). For now I’ve made tentative arrangements with a friend who has said she will come and take care of Pep at the house.

But for all the traveling complications created by Sgt. Pepper’s presence in our household, not to mention the reconfiguring of my lunch schedule around Pepper’s need for bathroom breaks, I cannot describe the unadulterated delight she has brought us.

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2 thoughts on “For Love of the Dog (Project 52, Week 4)

  1. When I was in college, I adopted a dog from a shelter. She was part terrier, part poodle, part who knows, with beautiful, silky/disheveled white fur, once I washed the 1,000 fleas out of it and her coat grew in after better nutrition. She startled, if hands came too close, too fast; but she loved to be petted, and responded wonderfully to affection. I think she was abused- hit and neglected, so I’m glad I found her and rescued her. She was a great dog, and a sweet friend, always read to greet me with the equivalent of a smile (and she always tore up my room, missing me, when I was away to classes!)

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