Adventures in Babysitting

26 Feb

For the past three months, I have been playing surrogate owner to one fluffy child. I should clarify, this fluffy child was originally my child. As times and responsibilities changed once I made the decision to go back to school, I recognized that my schedule didn’t allow me the same flexibility that I once had. Evening long walks on Santa Fe Trail (back before they paved it over, when you’d catch sight of a rabbit or two), belly rubs and social time at White Rock Dog Park – all of that had to take a back seat to reading, reading, writing and more reading. Instead of shipping the dog off to the modern day “farm” – also known as the Dallas-area SPCA – I asked my mom, an empty-nester, to take in the dog for an unspecified period.

Best decision I could have made. They’ve been inseparable and I get to play weekend mom when I go to my hometown.

Right after Christmas, I thought I was taking the dog on for the month of January, no biggie. We’d have some walks, socialize and before we knew it, our brief time together would be up and she would be back with my mom on the road back home, all the while looking back at me with one tear drifting down. Along the way, early February became late February and in that time, I remembered all the good and bad points about dog ownership. Early morning walks in the blustery wind, evening strolls when you just want to melt into the couch with a glass of wine and the new Scandal episode waiting for you on the DVR. The strange neediness of dogs and how they jump up the moment you do, anticipating that maybe you’ll give them an absentminded neck scratch or, maybe just maybe, you’ll take them for an impromptu walk. All of which began to wear on my nerves. However, it wasn’t all bad. Though I grumble every time I put on what have now been assigned as my dog-walking shoes, once I’m out in the fresh air and I see how it revives her, I can’t help but reflect that happiness back to her. Dogs and babies, only monsters can’t appreciate their unshakable happiness with the simplest things in life.

As I wind down the last few days, I have one example of why having a dog is simultaneously awesome and scary. I had a protective moment, in which my fur baby was almost hurt, I didn’t know what to do and she taught me a lesson in shaking it off. Thinking that I should get her some socialization time with a neighbor’s two dogs, we trotted over to the run at my community and tried to give them some off-leash time. Apparently one of my neighbor’s dogs hadn’t learned the essentials to life, which includes “Thou shalt not bite your new friend on the face.” And freak out ensues. After what to an observer probably looked like a fine imitation of Benny Hill, with me grabbing her dog and her trying to grab the other end of the dog, her second dog trying to figure out who’s on first and my dog probably still not getting that this does not equal friendship, we finally get everyone to their respective corners. At this point, I’d picked up my dog like a baby and was checking her out while she gave me, in my mind, the look of childlike reproach: “How could you bring me to this place?” The demon dog, the dummy dog and their owner left with many apologies – and really, with rescue dogs, you can only do so much. A lot of it is personality, and clearly that dog did not from a happy home before being adopted. Once I put my dog down, with kind and soothing words and a lump in my throat, I wondered if she would ever be the same. Would she shy away from socializing and never find another fellow furry friend? Had I RUINED her? And then she set me straight with a  shake of her coat and a quick scamper off to discover new smells. While I was so concerned about her mental anguish, she just wanted to be a dog. Pretty cool lesson…though if I catch the demon dog in a dark alley alone, it’s on like Donkey Kong.

So in honor of her indomitable spirit and her ability to sport a jaunty bandanna in all the colors of the rainbow, I dedicate this post to Forti:

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