It’s not that I’m forgetting to write, and it’s not that I have nothing to write about. It’s that anytime I’m not at work or in a class, then I’m walking the pup or filming an audition or editing my novel or going over finances. And if I’m not doing that, then I’m exhausted, and all I want at the end of the day is to lie on the couch with my dog and watch something that doesn’t require my brain to work.
I’ve downgraded my blog because I just haven’t kept it up enough to justify what it was costing. Years ago, I thought I could maybe make this blog into something, but now I think I’ll just use it however I want, just for myself. No posting outfits or recipes unless I really want to.
I adopted a dog. She was my third foster dog, and just as I did with the last two, I fell in love with her. She didn’t cower in her kennel like the others did on their first nights, even though she was terrified. She nipped me first thing, first foster to do that, too. Her paw had gotten stuck in the neck of her coat and I’d reached to free it but moved too fast. My fault. She wasn’t housetrained like the others were, and didn’t have any desire to mark when I took her outside. She peed when she had to pee, and didn’t pee if she felt no need, and sometimes I’d walk her for over an hour without getting a drop from her. Not a complete waste though, because we both enjoyed ourselves.
She wasn’t trained at all. She came from a hoarding situation and didn’t bark or growl for the first three weeks I had her. She’s starting to bark a little more as her confidence grows, unable to fight her chihuahua instincts, I suppose. She only does it to warn me of someone at the door, and since I work with headphones on and have a broken doorbell, this is sometimes useful to me.
I have to admit, before I started fostering, I had a dim view of chihuahuas. I only knew of two, both named after foods, both yappy and aggressive. One had actually caused a french bulldog to lose an eye, or so I heard. But as I’ve gotten to know the breed, I find I actually quite like them. In many ways, they are complete opposites of my beloved rescue, Foxy. They were bred as hunting dogs, and hunting dogs bark to alert their humans to prey. They were also bred as guard dogs and work a bit like a home security system—minus the ability to call police to your house. Ideally, they don’t bark at everything, and so far I’m happy to report my new pup only barks when someone’s at the door. She likes to look out the window, but doesn’t bark at the things she sees out there, nor does she bark when the neighbour’s dogs get set off, or when something I’m watching makes a concerning noise.
Another thing about chihuahuas is that they are incredibly cuddly creatures. They love nothing more than to lie on your lap or chest or shoulder or curl under blankets and squish their faces between cushions. Foxy used to come lie on my bed with me in the evenings and would sometimes even fall asleep, but if I turned the page of my book too loudly or breathed too much, she’d get up and leave. I think she spent most nights sleeping in her preferred bed: my dad’s pile of dirty laundry. She’d appreciate pets and tolerate hugs and kisses, but she never sought it herself. She was a strong independent girl. The chihuahuas were the opposite. I wondered whether a three-year-old hoarded dog who might’ve had limited interaction with humans and was known in the rescues she’d been through as “the biter” would still be cuddly. I watched them struggle to get her out of her kennel upon her arrival. She bit a nice volunteer and held long enough to mean business. Another man with gloves slipped a collar around her neck and had to pull her out and drag her along the floor. She was so terrified that she pooped twice in the process and I don’t think she knew it. Then the man stopped and knelt on the floor and wouldn’t you know it, she jumped right into his arms. All she wanted was love.
After she nipped me, she backed into her water dish, which was big enough that she fell into it, and peed and pooped from fear as she scurried behind the couch. My couch isn’t against a wall, so this didn’t concern me. I stayed where I was and let her recover from the shock we’d both had. She peered around the other end of the couch, saw me cross-legged on the floor, and crawled right into my lap. The rescue had instructed that if she hid, I was to take her and give her a big hug until she stopped struggling, then let her go. This is supposed to teach hoarded dogs that humans aren’t going to hurt them and also help them get used to our scent and touch. Later I read a paper on hoarded dogs and I think the hug thing depends on the dog, helpful for some but not all. However, even without knowing this, I already knew she wanted to be held, so I hugged her. She melted into me. I think that’s when it first became hopeless. I wasn’t in love yet, I didn’t intend to adopt and had that foster barrier up in my head, but she didn’t know I was temporary, so she loved me with everything she had.
The one before her, a pink 7yo chihuahua, had reached me a different way. I went to pick her up from her home in an owner surrender. One time on Halloween when people were going by in their costumes, I’d dropped her leash and she went nowhere. I didn’t know what her history was from before the year she spent with her previous owners, but she seemed to know too well about the precariousness of having a human. Her previous owner had told me she didn’t have separation anxiety, and maybe she hadn’t then, but she did when she was with me. When she got adopted and it was time to go, she watched me pack her things with confusion. I took her with me on the first trip to the car, carrying a giant bag of dog food that had been in a closet. She wasn’t fed from that bag and I don’t think she saw it as hers. On the second trip I took out her kennel, filled with all of her things except her bed, which was too big. She grew apprehensive when she watched me put her things in the car. When we returned to the house again, she lay down on her bed which I’d left near the door, looking up at me with those pleading eyes. It took a lot of prodding to get her to leave it, and then, when I picked it up, she tried to go deeper into the house. She normally loved going out for walks, but there I was with her bed in one hand and her leash in the other, and she pulled at the end of it, not to go outside but to stay inside. She went for the kitchen, the hallway, anywhere but out that door. When I crouched to beckon her, she flattened herself to the floor to avoid being picked up. Finally, I let go of her leash and allowed her to bolt farther into the house and out of my sight. She knew what was happening. She was about to lose her human again and she didn’t want to go through with it. I couldn’t explain to her that she’d go live with the couple she’d loved so much during the meet and greet. All I could do was close the door and sink to the floor for a little cry. She was the gentlest little dog and barely barked. She did not deserve to have gone through what she’d gone through. And while I was crying on the floor, she returned, cautiously, and came to sit with me. But when I’d collected myself enough, she darted away again before I could grab her. I had to take off my boots and go to the living room where she sat on the couch. I knelt beside her and she let me pet her, and eventually she let me pick her up and carry her out, along with her bed.
There is a happy ending. When we got to her new home, she recognized the house and the people. She pranced around and greeted her new humans and chased her tail around and around, which was how she expressed joy. Due to some bad experiences, she’d been averse to her kennel when I got her, but once she tired herself out, she went straight to it and lay inside, right at home. I left.
My hoarded pup loved as though living out her happily ever after. The rescue tells us that it takes three days for a dog to settle in, three weeks for them to show their true personalities, and three months for them to know they’re home. That’s been about right, in my limited experience. The exception is Foxy who took no time at all on all three counts, but we got lucky with her. And this latest pup also didn’t seem to get the memo, but just for the last bit. Within a couple of weeks she operated under the presumption that the house was her house, but from day one she saw me as her human. Of course, they all do, eventually. The person who adopted my first foster said my foster had spent the first few days at the window, waiting for me. But I dunno, maybe it’s because I knew a little bit more about how it would go in the end. I couldn’t disappoint this one.
I actually knew pretty quickly that, if I wanted to adopt a dog, she was the exact kind of dog I’d want to adopt. She fit my lifestyle and I knew I could give her what she needed better than most. And goodness, she was cute. The only box she didn’t tick was that she was only three years old. I imagined myself adopting an elderly dog. She was practically a puppy, and certainly acted like one. As a hoarded pup, not only did she not have any training, but everything was new to her. She was so scared of everything. She’d startle at the fridge door being opened or the toilet being flushed, but she was also curious. I’d drop a pen and she’d scamper to get away, then see the pen on the floor and creep up to sniff it. Maybe she’d accidentally touch it with her nose and she’d lurch back, ready to run, before calming down and exploring it some more, maybe even trying to lick it. It was fun to watch her grow bolder.
The first time she went outside, I had to carry her down the stairs. She was terrified. It was dark because the sun set early, and we didn’t get very far before a man came into view. She cowered as he neared and he ignored me when I asked him to give us some space. That was the first time she peed outside. It was also as far as we got. She wouldn’t go farther because the man was ahead, so we turned back and went home again. Nonetheless, despite checking over her shoulder every few steps, she was so thrilled to have been on her first walk that she skipped around the house. I learned that she skips to show joy the way my second foster had chased her tail, and a month later, her name was Skipper.
There’s more to tell but I’d better save it because this is getting a bit long.