Sunday, July 3, 2011

Eat Pee Love

One year ago today, a little furball named Skittles (don't worry, she won't keep this name for too long) showed up at my front door. She looked small and scared, and frankly a little embarrassed by both her bad haircut and her silly name. She walked in, took one look around, and peed on the floor.

She came to me thanks to a wonderful organization called the Mayor's Alliance for New York City's Animals. This organization is a coalition of animal rescue groups and shelters that works to place animals in loving homes and end the killing of healthy cats and dogs. A lot their work involves placing animals in foster homes while their owners are unable to care for them -- maybe the pet owner has gotten sick, been forced to move to an apartment that isn't pet-friendly, or become temporarily homeless. MAFA helps find great temporary homes and covers a lot of the costs of caring for a pet during the foster period, and often the animals are happily reunited with their owners

Skittles (better known to you as Audrey the Dog) was a different situation. She had been purchased from a breeder by a family in New Jersey, and after two years they decided to give her away. I don't know all of the details -- I don't think she was abused, but I don't think they cared for her very well. There was a divorce and children involved, and apparently she was being used by the parents as a way to try to manipulate the kids. Eventually they decided to surrender her, and MAFA stepped in. And I have to say, MAFA really goes above and beyond -- they picked her up in New Jersey, brought her to their vet for spaying, microchipping, vaccine updating, and a check-up and teeth cleaning. Then they delivered her to my house and then paid for some follow up vet visits. For all of this, I paid an adoption fee of only $100. Truly, a great organization! I've decided to make a donation to MAFA every year on Audrey's adoptiversary so they can continue doing their great work.

While our first few days together weren't exactly smooth sailing (they said she was housebroken -- she was not), I did quickly get a sense that we were meant to be together. I have been wanting to adopt a dog for more than 10 years -- wishing, hoping, and praying big time. Truly, I was a little obsessed. I wanted a rescue, and I hoped for a little dachshund (or at least a little doxie mix). When my dog-loving boss heard this, she offered to reach out to her contacts at MAFA on my behalf. Lo and behold, they were rescuing a dachshund that week. Fate.

The past year with Audrey the Dog (she ditched the Skittles after about a month -- new life, new name) has brought me more joy than I could imagine.

Skittles are candy, not pets. A few friends loved the name, but
I thought she needed a fresh start.
Image credit

She makes me laugh every single day, she makes me me see things differently, and she gives unconditional love. And even though I quite like living alone, she is great company in my life. She is so happy to see me when I get home (and the feeling is mutual), and I'm shocked at how absolutely empty my little house feels when she's not here. 

And I've learned a lot, so I thought I might share a few lessons about being a doggy mama. Warning, gratuitous Audrey photos ahead!

I can put someone else's needs in front of my own.
It's not that I haven't done it before, but being a pet owner does require quite a bit of selflessness. When Audrey arrived, I had to work to figure out her schedule. I needed to learn when she wanted to eat, when she needed to go out, and how much she needed to sleep. Of course, she stayed pretty silent on the whole matter so I had to figure out a lot by trial and error. I needed to leave work at a certain time so I could get her home, I needed to take care of her dinner before mine, and I needed to get her out on her walks...even if I was tired, even if it was too hot or too cold. Audrey doesn't like to go out in the rain, so often I hold the umbrella over her while I get soaked. I do it because that's what she needs, and it's my job to take care of her.

I need a whole post to showcase the many faces of my little drama queen,
but here is preview.
Sometimes being very patient is important.
In a lot of ways, Audrey is a real New York dog -- a little bit neurotic, and not always easy to please. I mentioned the housebreaking thing. Actually, Audrey wouldn't even pee outside when she first got here. We'd walk forever and then as soon as we got home, she'd smile and pee on her bed.  (OK, she doesn't smile with her is more in her eyes, but I know she's doing it). I cleaned up a lot of messes, but eventually we figured it out. She has also developed a few behavioral issues (please do me a favor and don't ever ring my doorbell), and I am seeing that while she can eventually learn to act the right way, it won't happen overnight. I need to be consistent with her training, and I need to be patient.

Love can be a little bit disgusting.
I know that being a dog mama isn't at all like having a child, but there are a few useful comparisons. I always wondered if I was cut out for the icky side of child-rearing, and after just a few weeks with Audrey I got my answer. Audrey likes to eat things that she shouldn't, often with messy results. I came home to find Audrey had gotten sick many, many, many times. I'll spare you the details, but the phrase, "oh, shit!" was never more applicable. Audrey was fine, but there was a lot of clean up to do. It was totally disgusting, but I did it without hesitation. Same goes for that night she had projectile diarrhea. It isn't always easy to care for the people we love, but it is nice to know that I can do it when I am called.

This bed is just the right size...for me.
I can't control everything.
And finally, life with Audrey is a good reminder that no one is perfect, and sometimes people (or little furballs) will do things that I don't want...and I need to be able to roll with the punches. Audrey has a protective streak, and she gets a little angry when she sees other dogs. She demonstrates this anger by screaming, snapping, lunging, and otherwise menacing other pups in the neighborhood. And while I truly wish she would not do this, wishing it isn't enough. I have a similar wish that she wouldn't follow me into the bathroom. I probably should do something about that, but right now I'm picking my battles.

So Audrey, thanks for a year's worth of good morning hugs and goodnight kisses. Thanks for being such a good playmate and such a good listener. Thanks for licking away my tears, and thanks for entertaining me by running around with a pita chip bag on your head (this happens almost weekly).

I look forward to many, many happy years with my teeny little pal!


  1. I love "love can be a little bit disgusting." SO true! :) Happy Anniversary to you and Audrey.

  2. Audrey just jumped on the couch and gave me a big kiss with her gross doggy food breath -- I told her "It's a good thing I love you so much!" Blech!

    Thanks :)