» i fell in love with a dog.
  • i fell in love with a dog.

    May 31st • Posted in love, personal, writing

    At 24, I’m lucky enough to have felt love in many forms: familial, romantic, and platonic.  But, until around the age of 22, I wasn’t able to experience what it was like to have a pet, specifically the loving bond between a human and their dog. I don’t think it’s a secret that Tobi and I have been fostering for Muttville Senior Dog Rescue on and off for the past two years. After moving into our cute little apartment in the Mission a couple years back, and after returning our moving van to U-Haul, we were walking around the neighborhood to find a place to eat when we stumbled upon Muttville’s open house adoption events. I ended up falling in love with all the dogs there, and we struggled and debated over adopting a dog that we got attached to at first glance. We realized that we probably were not well-equipped with first time dog ownership because neither of us grew up with pets. So, instead, we compromised and got roped into fostering for the rescue.

    We started with our first foster, CeeCee, who came at an inopportune time– during my summer Organic Chemistry class, in which I suffered a great deal of both learning how to take care of another living thing besides myself, and also coping with the breakneck pace at which absorbing the subject was impossible. CeeCee was a force of nature: incredibly intelligent (she was a poodle mix, after all,) sensitive and shy, but affectionate once her walls came down and she realized she was in a safe space. She eventually got adopted and returned, and then developed a bout of very intense separation anxiety– but she did end up in her dream home with an active senior who could devote all their time and energy to this wonderful pup. I will always have a soft spot in my heart for CeeCee because she taught me a lot about how to love and take care of dogs. After CeeCee, it took us a year and a half before we decided to foster again.

    In January of this year, we realized that our lives were slowing down a little, and missed having a dog in the house. We ended up deciding to foster again, and had a rotating cast of characters until we came across Clark. Clark actually reminded me a lot of CeeCee when I first met him. When we came across him at Muttville (we were actually picking up another foster,) I noticed that he was shy, constantly walking around and scoping out his environment, but would never actually come up to greet humans or be affectionate towards them. He’d sniff around and then go off on his own. CeeCee was the same way– she’d let you pet her but would never actually show signs of enjoying or liking it until we ended up fostering her for an extended period of time. My gut was telling me that Clark would be similar in behavior, and while he was very cute, I warned my boyfriend that he seemed like the type of dog who would get really attached to his fosters and may end up developing separation anxiety. So when we ended up having to pick another foster after our most recent one got adopted, I sent a list of potential dogs that may be a good fit to my boyfriend, with some of my hesitations about each dog. Of course, my boyfriend had already been eyeing Clark as a potential foster because he was so adorable, but also because Clark is a Keeshond/Schipperke mix (he is a Dutch and Belgian dog, essentially.) And obviously, since my boyfriend is Dutch… he felt the need to be loyal to his countrymen and pick the Dutch dog despite my reservations, and finding out that Keeshonds are basically velcro dogs. That being said, we started to foster Clark earlier in the year and quickly found out about his quirks and various medical issues. I was actually very hesitant because Clark was very attached to Tobi initially, and didn’t seem to like me. I even cried at night after a month because I was so frustrated that the dog wasn’t bonding with me. However, after earning his trust and breaking down his emotional walls, Clark fell in love with me. Through his life-extending surgery, and various stressful changes (new home, his favorite human going on a trip, multiple adoption events,) this little nugget somehow managed to accept all the affection I threw at him and loved me tenfold! Due to his health issues– I was very adamant about not adopting him or opting to hospice adopt him because I felt like I couldn’t emotionally handle it, and that the emotional onus should be placed on someone who could give more love in order to ease him into his eventual transition across the rainbow bridge. Over time though, including a visit from my mom (who fell in love with Clark,) I realized that I couldn’t see my life without this dog. He had become my emotional support animal, and I had become his emotional support human.

    I realize what my boyfriend and I are doing isn’t for everyone. Adopting our first dog together– a senior dog with chronic medical issues and the temperament of a velcro-puppy– is definitely not recommended whilst in the middle of medical school applications and an exhaustive job hunt and studying for an entrance exam. But it’s something I probably would do over and over again because the benefits are so rewarding. So even though our little chunk constantly whines and moos at us when he wants something, even if it’s at four in the morning, or barks at us at seven in the morning to make sure we know it’s time to walk him… we’d (at least I definitely would) do it all over again. At the end of the day, I’m content knowing that Clark is our dog, and even though he might not be around for very long, I’m so grateful to have been his mother and to have loved him for the short amount of time he has left. So that thing about not experiencing the love between a human and their pet? I know it now. I’ve felt it. And I’m the happiest senior schipperkees mama in the world.

    As a side note: If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, please consider stopping by Muttville Senior Dog Rescue at 255 Alabama St, on Rescue Row in the Mission District of San Francisco. They have open adoption events every weekend from 12-4 PM, where you can drop by, meet any of the available mutts, and if you fall in love- even adopt! (Or foster, like we did!) On June 3-4, 2017, they are having a Summer of Love Adoption Event where qualified adopters can bring home their favorite pup home for free!