There is nothing that I do, that I haven’t mulled over in my head a thousand times…
A creature of habit. A habitual planner and procrastinator. I roll decisions over and over in my head until it seems as though I’ll never make a decision.
I do this with a lot of things. And sometimes it’s helpful. Some decisions can’t be taken lightly. I feel however, that it is a device that is mainly born out of my anxiety; out of the fear I have to ever make any decision, least I make the wrong one.
And when I do typically make a rash decision, it is almost always the wrong decision.
Still, I made up in my mind a month or so ago that I was getting a dog. Getting a dog was a decision I had mulled over for the past 5 years, since i bought my place. I’d never lived somewhere where I could have a dog, and now that i did, I felt like it was something I should do…something I’d been wanting to do forever; thinking on it over and over… about how much I loved animals and how I’d be a good dog mom and how I should just get one because I love them and if not now, when?
I guess if I’d thought harder, I mean really thought about it, then maybe I would have said, “when you have a yard…. And when you have more than one person to take care of a dog…” But I threw caution to the wind, because I WANTED one so badly.
Her name was Georgia. And she was a 7 year old pit bull. My dad scoffed at me for getting such an old dog that might die on me soon. But I didn’t care. Georgia was beautiful. And I loved her sweet face as soon as I saw it on the Humane Society’s site. And I knew she was mine. So I went and got her. And I mean that almost literally, as the process was WAY easier than I thought it’d be. I figured I’d be put through the wringer with questions on what type of home I had and what my schedule was and bombarded with visits…all things I would have gladly put up with mind you, to get MY dog. But we scarcely had a 20 minute conversation and 3 days later, they told me to come pick her up. And on the day I went to get her, everyone in the office came to say goodbye to her. She was being fostered by someone who worked there and as such, she came to the office every day. And they all seemed simultaneously happy at her finding a home and sad at her leaving them.
I almost felt sad for them; they seemed to love her so. Which just made me feel like I’d made a great decision.
And then we had our first night together. And it was filled with confusion (on my part) on how to get her to eat (which she wouldn’t), and where I should walk her, and how to get her to stop pulling on her leash, and confusion (on her part) on just where the hell was she, and where was that nice family and those nice other pets she was used to living with, and how come she couldn’t sleep in the bed with this lady and chew on her covers, and why isn’t this lady taking me for a walk at 2am (which I did, two days in a row) when she hears me crying. It was indeed, frustrating on both our parts but, still, we got through it. I literally spent entire days at work, reading through TONS of information on dogs; what they like, what they don’t like, what it means when they cry, how to train them to walk, how to crate train them, how to be a pack leader to my dog, etc. etc. I mean, I STUDIED this shit like I was taking an exam. And each day I came home, I practiced what I’d read. And amazingly, a lot of it worked in relatively short time. Me and Georgia, we were making our way through.
Still, I was gripped with a worry that would wake me in the night. A worry that helped me lose 5lbs (wasn’t mad at that) and hours of sleep (WAS mad at that)… was she happy here? Did I give her enough attention? I live in this small house and even though I feel like a loafer, I’m not home every second that I’m not at work. Is she being stimulated enough? Socialized enough? Is she happy here? Am I not the great dog mom I thought I’d be? And then there was the neighbor who was deathly afraid of dogs and pretty much avoided leaving the house if she heard my door open. All these things running through my mind upset me. Made me questions my decision. But when I saw her sweet face, I was comforted. When I rubbed her stomach or patted her head, none of those things seemed to matter. When she’d rest on floor by my feet, I thought things were okay. Only, in the back of my mind, those thoughts? They stuck there. I couldn’t shake the feeling that because of my rash decision, I would be punished. But still….we muddled through. I had set up some dog training so that I would feel more comfortable taking her out to parks and introducing her to new people, as she was very excited when she met folks on the street and though she was being her lovable sweet self, waiting affection and hugs and kisses, other’s might find her menacing…because she is a pit-bull, and not a little one at that. And because she can play rough with new dogs, I thought it best to go ahead and get training. So I’d set it up. $700 worth of it, which some might shake their heads at. I’d already spent $500 on her within the first week, what with the adoption, and supplies. But she was worth it to me.
And then it happened.
A neighbor of mine pointed out to me while walking her, that they didn’t know we were “allowed” to have dogs of that size. I shrugged it off and told him I was sure it was fine. But the more I thought about it, I wasn’t sure. See I never actually READ any bylaws about pets. I saw people had pets and I assumed we could have them because I own my home. So how are they going to make a rule about what I can have in my house? Only they did make a rule. When I actually read the bylaws later that night, it stated that your pet could not be over 25lbs and if you were in breach of this, you had to remove the animal from the premises within 10 days. And I started to panic. Georgia peach was 55lbs of pure sweet pit-bull love. And my next door neighbor already feared her. And the guy in the building next door already commented on her. And for all I know, either of those people could turn me in at any time. And what should I do now?
Me, the eternal researcher and planner went to the internet. And found a site about pit bulls sponsored by a pit bull rescue. And in the section on re-homing dogs they explicitly stated NOT to take your dog back to the shelter. They said that in all likelihood, they’d put your dog down. Now I didn’t think twice about that because they were OBSESSED with Georgia, so I doubted that would happen. But the site also stated that re-homing your dog is YOUR responsibility. The humane society’s job is to take in and find homes for abused and stray animals; not to take back your dog if you didn’t want it anymore or suddenly couldn’t have it. Your dog, your responsibility. And I get that. I had already made the mistake of NOT confirming whether I could have the pet. I didn’t want to drop Georgia back off like some shirt I was returning to old navy. So I read up on re-homing pits. And it discussed where I should post ads and how to post them and what questions to ask potential adopters, and on and on. And I followed this process, to a T. I then e-mailed the trainer to let her know that due to my negligence, I’d have to re-home Georgia. But since I figured it would take a while to find a good home, I was proceeding with the training. This all happened on a Saturday.
By Monday, the humane society called me to bring Georgia in for some “testing.” I didn’t think much of it, until the trainer e-mailed me a few minutes after, as I was already on my way to the Humane Society, to tell me that she volunteered for the Humane Society and that if I had to rehome her, I should let them do it, as they would probably want to. Then the whole thing felt like a set up. And that’s pretty much what happened. They took Georgia in for some heartworm medication and then told me they had seen my ad and that it was no problem for them to take Georgia back if I couldn’t have her and that the gentleman who’d fostered her would be happy to take her back, etc. etc…. it kind of faded out after a while because in my head all I could think was, is this happening? Am I in trouble? Am I bad doggie mom? I’ll admit, I wasn’t he most educated pet owner coming into it. But I was doing my best to learn. I was taking her for tons of walks and giving her lots of hugs and kisses (cause she was a sensitive girl) and buying her toys and researching about her and setting up training like a responsible pet owner and introducing her to family and friends. I had made a mistake, true. And a big one at that; in that I wasn’t supposed to have her. But even after discovering that, I was handling it in the manner in which I thought I was supposed to. But I think the Humane Society thought I was some dog poacher, trying to cash in off of a dog. Or maybe not that. Maybe they just thought I was an irresponsible dog parent. I don’t know what they thought. All I know is that I felt like they were “rescuing” her again. And I was really upset, like in tears upset and I VERY RARELY cry in front of anyone. Like the lady had to give me a hug and box of tissue – upset. So we talked some about the situation, and in the end, I signed Georgia back over to them. I asked could I see her and they let me go in the doctor’s office to say goodbye. And when I got on the floor with that sweet faced pit-bull, I cried and cried. Like someone was taking my baby from me or something. I felt like I let Georgia down. Like I let the humane society, an institution whose purpose a have immense respect for, down. Like I was the worst person ever to have owned a dog. And I know that is dramatic and not true. But I felt…bad. That’s the only word I can ascribe to it; really bad. After I said bye to Georgia. I left. I came home and attempted to contact the gentleman who’d fostered her to speak about the situation and tell him how sorry I was for how everything happened and apologize for not doing my due diligence. I told him I had all her stuff if he wanted to meet up to get it, but he never responded.
I still have all her things; her special dog food because of her allergies, all her toys I bought for her, her doggie bowls and blankets and shampoo, and bed. I haven’t built up the courage to take it up there, even though I want her to have it, and this happened 3 weeks ago. I feel like I can’t look them in the eyes…like when I left they all shook their head and sucked their teeth and talked about how I was the ignorant girl who put her dog up on the internet to be taken by any old one. I wish I could explain myself to them, so I wouldn’t feel so bad. But it wouldn’t change the situation. I did what I did, and apparently, it was the wrong thing to do, and now she’s gone. She’s been gone for almost a month now, and I still feel really bad.
Sometimes I see dog food in other people’s carts at the grocery store, and get jealous.
Sometimes I’m mad at myself for letting her go so easily, though I know it was for the best.
Sometimes I’m mad at myself for getting her at all.
Sometimes I’m mad because I miss her sweet face.
Sometimes I’m mad because no one has adopted her yet. And trust me, it took me 2 weeks to build up the courage to even go back to the site and look.
But mostly, I’m mad at myself, for making a mistake that I normally would not have made.
A decision I would have mulled over and over and never made a move on, had I followed my normal, anxiety ridden process.
Is it really better to have done it, when it turned out so badly? I don’t know. I miss her and I’m simultaneously relieved to have my normal life back, and then guilt ridden about those feelings. So I don’t know if I’m better for the experience or not.
What I do know? …I miss her sweet face.
She’s still at the NY Ave shelter in Washington, DC, if anyone is interested in adopting a great dog.