How are you? Good? The seasons are finally feeling like they are changing and I recently went to an allergist for the first time in my life. Turns out all those weird mystery ailments I have throughout the year, headaches and what I thought was just cold symptoms, are all allergy based. If you’ve never been, the allergist does this test where they give you a tiny amount of histamine so you will have a reaction, then they poke you with a bunch of little needles to see what else you may have a reaction to and compare it to the histamine bubble. This is their baseline, the histamine, and if you are allergic to something it will become the pin prick they give you will turn into the size of an M&M.
I was tested for ragweed, I’ll need to take Claritin on the reg. I was super allergic to dust mites- the circle was the size of a half dollar, I’ll need to be more vigilant about cleaning. And this was the most shocking: I am also allergic to dogs. Which was a bummer, because I happen to have a dog! The allergist recommended that the best possible option for me was to “RE-HOME” my pet.
As most dog owners know, there is a special bond between humans and these animals. It’s one of pure love, and curiosity, and often times disappointment and confusion and anger. I’d be lying if I said I haven’t on several occasions, cursed at Maggie, asked out loud, to no one mind you, why I would possible keep her around. Here is a list of just cold hard facts about my dog, Maggie:
- She smells. Like a bag of Fritos threw up on a vacuum cleaner
- She sheds.
- She pisses (and shits) indoors.
- She is not a fan of other dogs.
- She jumps on other humans.
- She licks her butthole.
- She rolls around in other animal’s shit.
- She sucks on walks.
- She doesn’t listen when we are outside the house.
- And all that dumb stuff she does, is a reflection on me.
I start to think that I suck, I can’t take care of a dog, I can’t take care of myself. It’s a really strange cycle of finger pointing going on here.
So when the allergist said the best option was to “RE-HOME” her. I thought about it. I thought about it seriously. When people come over does it smell like a dog, does it smell like dog piss, do I smell like a dog? Am I able to give her a happy home? Am I caring for her in the way that I should be? Is this the best thing for me to be living with this shit and piss and drool monster that is making me sick?
So what Keri and I did was try to work through some of these things. We got Maggie out of the bedroom. That is now a Maggie-free zone (a MFZ). She would now be sleeping in the living room, that was until she started getting so sad that she wasn’t allowed in the room that she began pissing on the rug. That was fine, we could fix that. So, we set up a spot for her in the kitchen, that was until she started getting so sad that she wasn’t allowed in the room that she started crying and chewing on the gate we put up (we’ve gone through 3). That was fine, we could fix that. So, we moved her sleeping area closer to us in the room I use as a studio. It was okay, but we started to feel guilty.
Both Keri and I work a typical work schedule. We’re both out the door before 8am and home sometime around 6pm. So that’s 10 hours that Maggie is in the studio. Add to that the 7 or 8 hours a night that we sleep and Maggie is alone in a room for 18 hours a day. Is that fair? Keri and I had long talks for about a month about what we thought. Were we not getting her enough love and attention, would the pissing on the rug and the chewing and the crying stop? Was this any way for Maggie to live? We both decided that we would start the process of looking for a new home for Maggie.
I put up a post on Facebook and a lot of our friends shared it with their friends. I got a couple of texts and emails and Facebook messages from people who were interested in meeting Maggie. Mostly because of our friends who shared the post wrote such lovely things about her. Because, despite the list of all the dumb shit she does, she is a sweet, sweet little pup. She’s definitely my top favorite dog of all time, and probably my 3rd favorite human of all time. With these requests coming in, things started to feel real. Keri and I became husks.
We stopped talking to each other for awhile. Every conversation I had at work felt forced. I really didn’t feel like myself. I wasn’t eating. I looked at every person’s profile who messaged me on Facebook and kept thinking that none of them were the right fit. I was sitting at work yesterday (crying a little, sure) and started thinking about whether I was being selfish or selfless. On one hand, the selfish thing to do would be to keep Maggie because I love her, keep her locked up and just live with the idea that maybe she doesn’t have the best life. On the other hand, it felt selfless to allow her to be somewhere in which she could be more free.
And then I thought about when Maggie and I first met.
2009 was a weird year. I was working several jobs in Toledo, OH after college. I said I worked so often because I needed money to pay off student loans, but I think it was because I was lonely. I had left college, my friends, my life, my beautiful girlfriend and was now sleeping in my parent’s house.
Sometime in late February on a cold, dirt, country road one of my coworkers sat on her porch, drinking her morning coffee. Let’s not get too dramatic, but country roads are quiet, we can reasonably assume it was peaceful. That was until the rattle of an old pickup truck came echoing from down the road. Quickly the noise of the truck got louder and it zoomed past her front porch. The truck slowed down about a half a mile down the road my coworker saw someone sitting in the bed as he lifted up a brown mass and hurled it out of the back of the truck, then it continued speeding down the road.
My coworker and her kids got up from their seats and all started walking towards the brown mass, as they got closer, they picked up speed. It wasn’t looking like a sack of potatoes anymore, it had a distinctly more animal shape to it. As she tells it, at this point they are running, my coworker and her children raced toward the brown animal-shaped mass that was writhing on the ground. It was a dog. A dog that had injuries. Injuries that appeared to have happened even before she was thrown out of the back of a truck. Bite marks. Blood. Lesions. Bruises. She was thin in the arms and face, but the stomach seemed too big for her body. A veterinarian would later tell us that she had just given birth to puppies. Here on the ground was an animal that had seen and experienced terrible, terrible conditions left out here to die.
When my coworker came to work that afternoon she told me this crazy story of how a couple of dumb fuck hillbillies threw a dog out of a moving truck, how her and her kids brought the dog inside, and how they were slowly trying to nurse her back to health. She had a vet friend come over and she said, aside from the terrible thing she had been through, she was going to be fine.
Later that week I took an hour long drive out to my coworkers house to see this magic dog that survived what appeared to be dog fights, abuse, giving birth, being ripped away from her puppies and being thrown out of a truck. It was Maggie and she was magic. She was a god damned magic trick. As soon as we entered the house, her tail-wagging stupid butt came sashaying up to me. She just wanted some love. So, I decided to try to give her some. I borrowed a blanket, loaded Maggie into the back of my mom’s Honda CRV and we left the country.
She looked pretty gnarly those first couple days, there was no reason why someone wouldn’t be hesitant to be around her. She looks like she’d seen some shit. We cleaned her up, took her to the vet, got her a collar, gave her a blanket, made her part of the family. During those first nights with her she would go around the house collecting stuffed animals and put them on the bed, she’d curl up to me with them all around her. I think in order to help her feel safe, she made me feel safe.
A couple of months later she sat shotgun when we moved to Boston to be with my girlfriend, Keri. Maggie was Keri’s first dog, she was really hesitant about it. I don’t blame her. But like most people, she learned that Maggie was a magic dog. She was happy if you were happy. She made you feel… good, she made you feel loved, she smelled like Cheetos. It was beautiful.
Smash cut to yesterday. I’m Facebook interviewing potential homes for Maggie and I realize that I need to be selfish. Keri and I talk and both realize that we were momentarily brain dead. I pull the post off of Facebook and regret the past week of my life.
What can I do?
I can do the one thing that Maggie has taught me to do. I survive. So she can’t be in the room anymore; we'll all survive. I can’t cuddle up with her on the couch; I’ll eat a Claritin and survive. I’ll clean my house more often, I’ll give her baths more often, I’ll be with her outside more often. I’ll become a yuppie asshole and get a dog sitter to come see her during the day. It will be a lot of time, a big commitment. But we owe that to her.
I hope she doesn’t remember any of her life before, those men, that truck. And even though we won’t be sleeping the same bed anymore, and even though we came so close to losing her I hope she knows how much she means to me (to us).
I know there are people out there who need to re-home their dogs. I feel for them. I cannot imagine what that feels like. I am not judging them at all. We’re all just doing the best we can - except for the truck guys, they can go suck a muffler.
I’m happy to say that I was wrong about re-homing her. I'll even apologize to everyone I lied to over the past week. I was stupid. Maggie and I have many more years of running around, and playing, and napping and one of us picking up the other’s shit. I’m thankful for that little shit. Alright, we’ll talk later.