My Significant Other
This post is about my longest lasting significant adult relationship…with my dog. I met my dog about five years ago after a particularly bitter break up with an ex that I usually like to call The Rat Bastard. I was living with a friend of the Rat Bastard’s. She had a kitty cat. The kitty cat was affectionate, but it was clear that both the kitty and I knew that she was not mine.
One day I was temping for a company where one of my co-workers was someone I knew from a previous job. This co-worker was a hard core animal lover who practically ran an animal shelter out of his own home. He lived in a trailer park in Hutto and had several large dogs that he had rescued over the years. One of his neighbors was a very irresponsible pet owner, and one of the mutts they owned was a female blue heeler and rottweiller mix. She had a litter of five puppies that were all sired by a pure bred miniature dachshund. (Yes, I would have liked to have seen that also.)
The puppies were born in the winter and were not allowed inside these people’s home. The mother eventually weaned the puppies, and the family that owned them failed to feed them. Two of the puppies died, either from starvation or exposure, and this is when my friend the animal lover intervened to feed the two remaining puppies and find them decent homes. And so I was approached about taking a girl puppy home.
At this point in my life I was thrilled to have a living, breathing tiny being that I was required to care for. Being both infuriated beyond imagination (translate psycho) and profoundly sad following aforementioned break up, I was thrilled to have a reason to get up out of bed in the morning that didn’t involve working to pay bills that I would never get caught up on even if I had more lifetimes to work on it.
I went to pick her up at the trailer park in Hutto. I brought one of those dog travel carriers. She was only eight pounds and already larger than her father. Mostly she looked like a standard weiner dog puppy. She was shy, and she wouldn’t let me pick her up. My co-worker had to hand her to me. I was about to take her home when one of her owners who hadn’t seen fit to feed her tried to hit me up for money, and the co-worker told him I could take the puppy for free unless the owner wanted to pay him for the food that had kept the puppy alive so far. This guy was a real piece of work. He was asking my friend if he thought he should cover his pit bull in motor oil to cure a case of mange.
Later, in the car, the puppy cried in her carrier. She shivered, whether from fear, shock or cold I’m not sure. She was very ill and had a horrible case of hookworm. She threw up worms in the carrier. I was glad I had thought to line it with newspaper. I wrapped her in some old towels that friends gave me to keep her warm — because I had to go show off my new puppy. When it came time to go to sleep that night she would not settle down to sleep and cried constantly instead. So, to keep my roommate from spending the night sleepless (or so I told myself) I let the puppy sleep with me in my bed. One night I remember in particular from her puppyhood, I awoke to find her nestled against my back with one of her paws laying on my shoulder and her head beside and behind mine on the pillow! Just like she thought she was a little person.
The day after I picked her up she went to the vet, and we got her worm free and bought preventative and got her shots and took care of the flea medicine. We went to the pet store and got her leash and collar and tags and basic grooming needs. Later there were obedience courses. She never did learn to heel or not to jump up when she was excited. But she did eventually learn how to come consistently, sit, and lay down and even play fetch…although she thinks this game is called, “Bring the ball to Mommy.”
It may seem silly to call a dog one’s significant other, but it really is no small thing. She kind of saved my life until life was really worth living again. And I know that she’s not actually a person, but sometimes I feel like she’s just as important as one. And she’s probably the only creature apart from God who truly loves me unconditionally. And that’s nothing to sneeze at.