Saturday, February 02, 2008

And, they call it "Puppy Love"

Ok, so I was inconsistent about posting this week. I am trying not to let this become a habit. I will post at least every two days, dammit! That is a promise. I notice that whenever I post about fashion - although I have NO CLUE what I am talking about, it makes y'all post! Eureka! I have found the answer! I will post another fashion blog soon because I love to know what y'all are thinking. Anyway, happy Super Bowl Sunday! Eat up, drink up, be safe! Go... Patriots... Giants? Hell if I know! I just found out who the Super Bowl teams were this morning. Pathetic, I know... Without further ado, today's blog (which, I am aware, is long overdue):

Aww! Puppies! Gotta love ‘em. I tell ya, peeps, I was just about to classify myself as a “dog lover” until I recognized that the only dog that I truly “love” is my own.

Honestly, the best piece of advice that I can give to a single person is: get a dog. Like now. Today. It changed my life – for the better – in so many ways. Before I became a pet owner, I knew a few people who were head over heels in love with their pets (including a woman who worked at one of my internship sites who had no less than 50 pictures of her big fat fluffy cat wallpapering her office). At the time, I didn’t understand how a person could go so insane over an… ANIMAL. I just couldn’t fathom loving something that wasn’t even human. You see, I grew up in a house where pets were not allowed. My mom didn’t want pet hair in her carpet nor did she want to end up responsible for cleaning, walking, and feeding some little mutt. I am deathly allergic to cats and have asthma, so a kitten was a no-go, but I always wanted a dog. I asked for one every year and, every year, was met with a resounding NO.

Anyway, I was afraid of dogs. Yes, having a dog was good in THEORY, but I was only halfheartedly interested in the reality of a dog. Whenever a person’s dog would come near me, I would jump. After all, I had never had any animals in my house growing up and these little critters seem kind of unpredictable, so I wasn’t really comfortable with having one sitting next to me or rubbing up against my leg. So even though I asked for a dog every year, I knew I wasn’t getting one and, truthfully, I was ok with that.

But, as I’ve mentioned before, I try to challenge myself every year. I attempt to overcome a fear or do something I’ve never done before. And in 2001, I made the decision that I would get over my fear of dogs. This was my senior year of college and Jeremy and I in our “on again/off again” relationship were in an “off” period. So, one day after class, I drove to Just Puppies, which was a store that had, well… JUST PUPPIES… to over come my fears.

I would head into the store, walk back and forth between the cages and then settle on a pup I wanted to take into the “holding room”. The first time I held one, I remember it was wiggly and warm. Sorta like a baby with more movement. And I didn’t really like the sensation. I put it down and went back to being a casual observer. The second time, I found a rather calm puppy and held and stroked her until she fell asleep in my arms. Later that week, while out and about, I encountered a woman with a very large dog and didn’t feel any fear at all. In fact, I pet him. But when he licked my hand I wanted to throw up. Guess I wasn’t cured after all.

The third time I went to the store, I was particularly depressed. My roommate, who had done all that she could to keep me entertained during my self-imposed exile in our apartment (I had, for all intents and purposes, not left our apartment for four days), considered it a welcome change when I asked her to come with me for my weekly sojourn to Just Puppies. It was the end of the week, so when we got there, the cages were mostly empty. Straight ahead of us was a cage containing two Italian Greyhound puppies. If you’ve never seen one, they’re pretty weird looking. Skinny and straggly and just… skinny and straggly. I walked up to the cage to see what was going on in there. I saw a shadowy figure in the back of the cage. And, when he spotted me, he pushed the two (much larger) greyhounds out of the way to get to the front of the cage.

He was the tiniest, cutest, sweetest thing I had ever seen. He licked my hand a few times and I looked at it, wiped it on my jeans and then walked away. A few minutes later, a young girl took him out of the cage and was walking around carrying him in her arms. He was a Miniature Pinscher and he was so adorable! I wanted her to put him down so I could pet him, so I basically stalked her around the store until (finally) she put him back in the cage. Well, as soon as she did, I ran over and took him back out and held him in my arms. We sized each other up and after about a 30 second stare down, he sighed, tucked his snout under my arm and settled in for a nap.

Well, needless to say, the rest is history.

I somehow convinced my very anti-animal roommate to go halfsies on him. We signed the paperwork and he was ours. After we paid a grip for him, I looked him over again. I decided he was rather homely looking. He was born with floppy ears and a long tail, and in an effort to make him look even more like a Doberman Pinscher, his ears and tail had been recently clipped and were looking sort of wounded. He also had a big round belly because he had worms (I would discover that during his first poop). But I loved him anyway. I named him Capone, after Al Capone – obvi, because I thought that such a tiny dog could use a BIG name. It was good for the ego.

Eventually, my roommate and I went our separate ways and because she was definitely NOT a dog-lover (although she was - and remains - very fond of Capone) she let me buyout her half of Capone and then, he was ALL mine. Of course, some may wonder why I wanted him. Even after a year of training and tough love, he occasionally pooped behind the living room sofa, chewed every pair of black shoes I had ever owned, and refused to eat anything but namebrand (read “expensive”) dog food.

But, I’ll tell ya single folk. With Capone, there was never a dull moment. He is great company even when he’s just sitting beside me quietly (which isn’t often). He is a fabulous guard dog. Every single woman living alone should get a MinPin because they will let you know if anyone gets even remotely close to your front door. They are very territorial.

Capone adds a rhythm and a consistency to my life that was missing before. Even if I stay out late at night, I know that he must be walked in the morning, and even if I am dead-tired after a long day at work, I know that I must walk him before bed in the evening. Btu I don’t mind those quiet moments together. When I am sick, he curls up next to me and lays quietly with his head resting on his little paws and I am lulled to sleep by his tempered breathing. When I am sad or crying (which I did a lot of in our early days due to Jeremy’s scandalous ways), he will crawl into my lap and nuzzle his head against my tummy and look up at me with those bright eyes, and all is right with the world.

And, the best part about being a dog owner? Even if everyone else in the world hates you, your dog will ALWAYS be happy when you come home. Capone suffers from separation anxiety, so everyday for seven years, he has thrown his small black and brown body against the door in the morning when I leave for work. I try to talk to him, try to convince him that I am coming back home. But no matter what, he looks at me with those panic-stricken bright brown eyes and inevitably throws himself at the door when I leave. It’s heartbreaking. And my heart has been broken everyday for seven years. By the same token, when I come home, Capone is a basket of nerves. Before I can even make it to the front door, I can see the silhouette of his pointy ears and small body watching me from the window. When I come inside, he jumps up on me, turns around in circles, and hops up onto his doggie sofa (yes, he has a doggie sofa and so what??) and begs to be held. His whole body shivers and trembles and his tail wags approximately 100 times per minute. That excitement is infectious and, in turn, I am even more excited to see him. He is playful and mischievous, cute and cuddly... just... refreshing! Even people who supposedly "don't like dogs", fall in love with Capone upon spending a few moments with him. He'll pretend to ignore you at first, then get a little closer, then a little closer until... lo and behold, he is sitting next to you and you are absentmindedly rubbing his little head. And, here, you thought you didn't even like dogs! He's good like that. He's a great judge of character. Whenever I start dating someone new, the first test is Capone. If he relaxes (after the first few minutes of standard hysteria that occurs anytime someone new enters the house) fairly quickly and allows you to touch him (or if he really likes you, to touch ME), then you're datable. If he barks, acts jumpy and nervous, and/or throws a fit when you get close to me, you're probably a wolf in sheep's clothing... And, yes, I do take this sort of thing seriously.

So, even though sometimes he breaks things, or chews things he’s not supposed to touch, or tears open a trashbag or two leaving detritus strewn across the floor, he’s still the best dog ever. Sometimes I get freaked out by the fact that I have started to slightly resemble the “cat lady” from my internship. Sometimes I worry that Capone is the only man that will ever love me. and then, I’ll think of how many times he has comforted me when I am sick or my feelings are hurt, how happy he is when I come home from work, how handsome he looks when I'm walking him in his hoodie or his turtleneck sweater (I am not laughing, so you shouldn't be either), how smart and resourceful he is (he can open doors, climb things, find whatever you are missing, etc.), and how content I am when he cuddles up/let’s out a sigh/rests his head on his elegantly crossed paws and starts to snore happily, I realize that even if it will be just me and Capone forever, that’s alright by me.

1 comment:

Spring Fever said...

I wanna head to Just Puppies RIGHT NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!! I want a lil Capone of my own! I'm not sure if one would fit in my lifestyle, but I so want one . . . I love dogs! Thanks for sharing this, I think this Spring I'm getting a doggy to love me too. :)