Friday, January 11, 2013

Apple's Story (or, How I Became a Dog Mom)

On May 29, 2012, my life changed forever.

In fact, I can remember exactly what I was doing right before the change occurred. I was standing around in Target trying to decide whether or not I should purchase this book:

What do you do with a BA in Theatre?

Normally, I'm not much of an impulse buyer. But, I felt as if my fiance and I could really use this book. I was 2 weeks out of college and he had been laid off for the second time, and I couldn't see how I could possibly turn down the COMPLETE GUIDE to solving all of my problems for a mere $16.95.

The second after I pulled the book off the shelf and placed it in my basket, I received a phone call from my fiance, Steven, and I had a strong premonition that it was an important call. And for whatever reason, I didn't expect it to be a good one.

He sounded really nervous when he spoke to me. I braced myself to find out what was wrong, and then he told me that a lost dog had been following him around our apartment complex. He was concerned that he couldn't go inside the apartment because this dog refused to leave him alone. He wanted to ask me if it was okay to let the dog inside so that he could put his stuff down. Then, he told me the dog was black. I told him it was fine to let the dog inside...what I didn't mention right away was that I wanted to keep him.

It was impossible for him to tell me that dog was black and expect me not to keep him. I have always been obsessed with black dogs. The only dog I had ever owned was a black Cocker Spaniel named Macintosh, and I became very partial to the color, especially after learning about Black Dog Syndrome, a human fear which prevents many black dogs from finding homes. I had always planned on getting a black dog and naming it Apple, after the computer, just like Mac.

I did, ever so gently, make a suggestion that we could keep him (but, in an alternate universe where we were emotionally and financially prepared for such an undertaking.) I asked him to please keep the dog until I got home (I was two hours away in my hometown, and was headed back to Austin as soon as I left Target) and said I would pick up some dog food to give him, and that we could take him to a shelter together.

Buying that food gave me such an adrenaline rush. I started fantasizing about our new life with a dog, and started blathering on about how excited I was to the checkout clerk. Two hours away, Steven was becoming very attached to the dog as well, and entertained the idea that we might keep him. We started texting about how much we wanted him, and I called him back to talk about it. The second we spoke on the phone we began convincing ourselves out of the undertaking, but when we hung up the phones (and our rational minds) we couldn't imagine ourselves giving him up.

When I finally arrived at our apartment complex and saw the dog, he bounded up to me with such excitement, as if he knew exactly who I was. We always talk about how he picked Steven, as there were other people around the complex as well, and I like to think that he realized in that instant that he was getting a great 2-for-1 special. It seemed as if he knew who I was--that I belonged with Steven, and consequently, belonged with him.

At this point, we were so conflicted on what to do. We wanted to keep him, but we didn't know what it would take to fix him up. He was dirty, he had fleas, and he wasn't neutered. What if he was sick? I decided that we had to take him to the shelter--not necessarily to leave him, but to ask them what we could do if we chose to keep him. I surmised that with all of the overcrowding in shelters and free adoption days, they had to offer a sweet deal to a couple who wanted to skip the middleman and rescue a dog right off the streets.

Before taking him to the shelter(s)
 The first place we took him was Austin Pets Alive, and when we walked in, the employees looked worried and explained that they weren't doing intakes. I explained that we were just there to talk--we wanted to know what our options were. They were extremely nice and helpful and told us about Emancipet, a clinic that offers low-cost medications and shots, and even free microchipping and sterilization to residents of certain zip codes. Then, they took a look at Apple's teeth, and told us that he was only four months old; he still had all his baby teeth.

At that moment, any rational human being might have said, "A PUPPY?!! Are you KIDDING ME?? That thing is going to be HUGE!!!" However, my first thought was, "A BABY?!! HE NEEDS ME!!!" The rest is pretty much history.

We did take him to Austin Animal Center and put in a found report in case his owners were looking for him. He knew some basic commands, so it was pretty obvious he had been previously owned. Then we took him to Emancipet and had him "fixed up" for $35 (including a free microchip) and later, had him neutered for free.

He did get big, but we hardly notice. The day we brought him in he was 28 pounds. Today, he is nearly a year old and weighs almost 60 pounds. He is a "knock-off Labradoodle," meaning that his parents were a Labradoodle and a Lab mix, but he is the textbook definition of a 'doodle. We lost a lot of shoes and headphones along the way, but we have not looked back.

Yes, I did take my dog to see Santa.

Now, I am a very passionate (obsessed? psycho?) Dog Mom and I can't imagine my life any other way. I especially love going to parks and participating in Austin's "dog culture," which I will be sure to document in this blog!

No comments:

Post a Comment