That’s what I have today. It’s not a new feeling; I’ve had it before, and I’m sure I’ll have it again. But the circumstances for this sadness are new to me. I don’t know what to do with this sadness, except let it be and learn from it. The lesson I learned today is that sometimes, you have to feel like a shitheel before you feel better.
As most of you know, we took in a little dog last week. She’s a Rat Terrier who came from the Seal Beach Animal Care shelter (which is no-kill). You can find the backstory on my Facebook page, because honestly, it’s too exhausting for me to relive in the retelling.
Yesterday I had to return Spider to the rescue. Wait. That’s not right: I decided to return her. If you’re thinking bad things about me, no worries: they can’t be any worse than I think of myself today.
She’s a wonderful dog. She’s already house-trained, and despite the nearly crippling fear she had in the shelter, she adapted within less than a week to having a home and loved laying by the fire at night. A few times she even crept up to sit on my lap. She let me pick her up (something she would never allow at the shelter) and give her kisses.
But she didn’t fit with my guys. There was fighting. I’ve seen dog fights; hell, there have been plenty in my house. But this was scary fighting because it terrified T and Jack.
You know the story of T and Jack right. I didn’t just rescue them. They rescued me. After my third dog in less than a year, my mija, my Gracie, died, I came upon these two and brought them home “for company” till I felt better. (That’s what my rescue friend said when she helped pile them into my car.) I didn’t want them. I didn’t like them. Their histories were unbearably sad (T was three when I got him and I was his first home. Jack was SIX. He spent the first 3 years of his life breeding in a puppy mill and then spent another three in the rescue circuit. Jack was SIX before he had a permanent home. And it was me.
To say I love them, to say we’ve bonded, is a vast and ridiculous understatement. Every day, everything I do for them is out of a love and a desire to make those bad years disappear. But there are still signs; lingering fears that pop up now and then that even after all this smothering love, they can’t shake.
I am always clear that my guys come first. When I started to fall for the little one, I felt a smidge guilty. But when the fights started, I was crushed. When I saw T run away and pee himself, I knew what I had to do. I had to return her.
Please don’t take away from this that Spider is a bad dog. She’s a great dog. Maybe here, with some time and training everyone could be made to get along. But, and I’m sure many will find this to be selfish, I feel that I owe my dogs more than “getting along.” It took us over four years to develop a routine in which they felt safe and secure, where they could be as happy as they could be. I should have known that another dog would break that routine, but we’ve fostered before, for short periods, and didn’t have fights. So Spider was probably the boss in her house. T and Jack have never been the boss anywhere but here. In fact, they’ve been the opposite. Would a trainer have worked? Maybe. But here’s my question (and it’s a toughie): how much do I frighten my dog before he’s ok? How many times does he have to run to the back room, or wet himself, because he’s frightened, in his home? To me, the answer is “not one.”
Ok, I’m rambling. I’m making excuses. I’m rationalizing. These are the things I tell myself when I wake up in the morning and put on this coat of sadness. Guilt. Regret. Whatever you want to call it, it’s raw and it’s shitty.
Here’s a picture of Spider. She is a great dog and will give you lots of love if you give her a little space, time and patience. If you know someone who’s thinking of getting a dog, tell them to go see her. And remember too that what you see in the shelter isn’t a dog’s true personality. So if she appears distant or skittish it’s because she’s frightened.