(Note: This post is written by my husband, John)
I never wanted a dog. They smell funny, cost lots of money, and require too much attention. When I hear the words “let’s get a dog” my brain hears “let’s spend lots of money so we can have more responsibilities.” But I also love dogs. They’re fun to play with, they make my children smile and laugh, and they can be really warm and affectionate. So, when we went to the animal shelter, I knew we wouldn’t find a “good dog”. Good dogs don’t exist in my book. Good dogs fill their own food bowl, shovel their own poop, and sleep in ‘til nine. Then we found you. A beautiful six-month-old female black lab, whose only crime was chewing up some furniture. Probably because the previous owners didn’t lock you up in a kennel. Those fools.
Shasta, you may have been the calmest puppy I’d ever seen. You moped around like this was the saddest day of your life. Then we found out that you had been dropped off at the shelter just hours before. Oh. It was the saddest day of your life. The news of your recent abandonment tugged on my heartstrings. Perhaps I wouldn’t have been so easily swayed, except in my heart I knew that if I didn’t find a dog, I would have no birthday present for my wife. I’m no good at coming up with things last minute, and I already told her that I was getting her a dog. To get her a stuffed animal wouldn’t cut it.
If I had to get a dog, you were surely the one. Your stunning black coat, quiet demeanor, and heart-melting eyes made you the best dog we were ever going to find. We had to leave you overnight at the shelter so we could go out and get supplies (like a kennel), but you went home with us the very next morning. Our kids were happy, I was happy, and best of all, my wife was happy. We were off to a good start.
I messed up…
When you chewed through your leash in the first two minutes of our acquaintance, I was shocked. I didn’t know any dog could do that, but that’s ok. We swung by Petco and got a new chain leash and harness. No problem. It was our fault for underestimating what big teeth you have. That night, you walked into our room at least once every hour to lick us and make sure we were still there. Hmm…maybe you had some abandonment issues? Whatever the case, we decided to keep you more active during the day and to give you drugs to help you sleep. Again, no problem.
The next morning, we left you in your brand new kennel with a brand new doggy pillow. Somehow, while we were out, it turned inside out and exploded, and you peed on all the stuffing. I’m so sorry for the mess. I didn’t realize we bought an exploding doggy pillow. And the fact that you peed all over it? That was our fault, too. We obviously weren’t used to your bathroom schedule yet. We cleaned everything up and made sure that next time, you would have an empty bladder and more toys to play with in your kennel. Problem solved.
On day five you found our missing baseball in the backyard. Good girl! (Note to self: don’t leave sports equipment in the backyard ever again.)
Then we decided that you should have a running line. I went out and bought the supplies needed to make you a great one in our yard. It took me a couple of days to find the time to put it up, but we got it done. Apparently, I didn’t get a long enough bolt to put into the side of my house. My bad. It’s not your fault that you pulled the line out of the wall along with a large piece of trim. I should never have underestimated your strength.
I’m so sorry…
The next day you were in your crate for an hour with an old shirt and a Kong chew toy. I should not have fed you before leaving you alone for an hour. I don’t know what I was thinking. How horrible it must have been to poop in such a small space. And how much worse to use your tail and paws to try to clean it up. You even tore up the old shirt to help wipe it up, not knowing it would spread all over. The smell nearly made me throw up. How much worse it must have been for you when you got some on your face. I’m so sorry.
Another week passed and things were finally beginning to look better for us. You still woke up too early each morning, but you made up for it by sleeping for most of the day. We decided to buy you a dog house, so you could be on your new line in the yard (attached only to a tree) and still have some shelter. It was more than we could afford, but you’re worth it. We were determined to make this relationship work.
You’re an affectionate, playful, sweet, fun dog. But after a few nights in a row without sleep, something snapped. You jumped on my face and licked me at 5am for the last time. I just couldn’t take it anymore. I’m sorry. It’s just not working out. It’s not you. It’s me. I thought I was ready for this kind of relationship, but I was wrong.
Don’t worry. A pretty girl like you won’t have any trouble finding someone else. I just pray whoever it is will love you and treat you right…and that they won’t mind waking up at five.
We’ll never forget you,
John, Heidi, and the kids.