July 10, 2012 — Last month I almost gave up my dog, Yogi.
I submitted his photo for Pet of the Week and wrote a My Turn trying to pawn him off on someone, but not one person called.
People just weren’t jumping at the chance to take in a half wild Indian puppy with questionable housebreaking habits.
My close friends and family predicted this outcome before I did. Some of the comments I received were:
“It’s a good thing no one called. You never could have given up that puppy if it came down to it.”
“You always have had a thing about taking in strays.”
“Scrappy. Streetwise. Rough around the edges. He does sound like your type, mom.”
“Just don’t ever tell me you’ve got an urge to do a photography project on yaks.”
Writing, for me, has always been cathartic; it’s often led to surprises and, almost always, to a deeper understanding of myself.
While I will probably feel guilty for a long time about listing Yogi as Pet of the Week, writing about him did turn out to be a big step in learning to be a better dog owner.
First, there were the emails. Several women wrote to share their own “Yogi” stories; only their dogs had names like T.J., Dallas or Jack.
Some of the stories were incredibly moving, especially one from a woman named Jeanne who adopted a dog after her son was killed in a car accident and who wrote about the struggles she’s been through since.
“I have learned that adopting a dog during an emotional time is not a wise decision. Although it felt wonderful at the moment, it wasn't for the right reasons,” she wrote.
Yet, she kept T.J. and with the help of Terry Popish, a talented trainer in Graeagle, she said he is turning into the perfect dog.
Others made me laugh. One woman wrote about her high-strung greyhound and said she now knew how the mother felt who put her daughter on a plane with a one-way ticket to Romania. I, too, could relate.
Their honesty moved me, and their empathy helped me through a difficult period.
People are often quick to judge, especially when we do something they deem unwise or foolish — the kind of things I do on a regular basis. Yet none of the emails I received were judgmental. These women reached out instead to let me know they’ve been where I was. What a healing thing that is. They, too, knew what it was like to make an impulsive decision that might not have been a very smart one, and they were able to laugh, and help me laugh, at the human flaws we shared.
Another surprising outcome of the article came from fencing guru, David Heard, who was between jobs and came up, and in one day, fenced in a large portion of my land. He included the boulders in my yard for Yogi to climb on, shade and brought the fence up to my house so I can now leave a door open and Yogi can go in and out at will. I still take him out to run every day, but now that he has more room, he has calmed down considerably. I’m finally able to sleep through the night and he is no longer escaping to bother the neighbors.
In the past month, Yogi has established his place in the home.
My calico hisses less, he hasn’t become locked in the bathroom for a month and my older dog is becoming more tolerant of his puppy ways.
One of the ironies of it all is I’ve never really considered myself a dog person. I like cats. Dogs are just so intrusive. Unlike a gentle purring, they bark, and they bark loudly. They smell bad and their hair gets everywhere. An hour after sweeping, my floors are once more covered with fur balls. Plus, they eat disgusting matter. On an almost daily basis, I find myself pulling objects out of Yogi’s mouth, some that were once alive, I never dreamed I’d be touching.
Still, there’s an undeniable sweetness to a creature that is always glad to see you and is not inhibited about showing you how much.
I’ve had to re-adjust my schedule. I’m not a morning person, but have, nevertheless, come to relish our early morning walks through this glorious landscape. It looks like Yogi is in my life to stay.
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