Today, September 3, marks the one-year anniversary of the day I brought home a large, soft, goofy, clumsy dog named Doozy. I was fresh out of college, and if you’ve known me on any level within the last 23 years, you’d know that it has been my dream to have a dog of my own. I had been constantly fighting the urge to make the jump since I had moved out of my parents’ house since I could barely keep track of my hairbrush let alone another living creature.
But one year ago on this day the urge overcame me. I made the jump, and 30 minutes later I was being dragged out of the Humane Society by this giant creature made of doggy smiles and pure energy. That’s also not to say I didn’t plan for this, as I had been searching for the perfect dog for about two months at that point, and I spent a good two days hanging out with this dog mulling back-and-forth as to whether or not she was the one.
SPOILER ALERT: She was.
It really has been quiiiite the fucking year since I brought her home, both in terms of being a new dog owner and just as being a 22-year-old idiot flopping her way through life as ungracefully as humanly possible. I cried the first two weeks after I brought her home, worrying if I just made the biggest mistake of my life. We sat behind a dog fence at her training class because she was too over-stimulated to learn anything. She saw me at very elated points in my life where I’d cook (i.e. mix up a bag of salad) while dancing around the kitchen for the hell of it, and she saw me crying with a bottle of wine on my bedside table as I watched “Me Before You” for the 42nd time. I spent an almost-absurd amount of money on toys she’s proceed on destroying LITERALLY within five minutes of me taking the tags off. It was a weird year, but I mean this so genuinely when I say that adopting her was the best choice I have ever made for myself – second only to the realllllly rad bowl-cut I tried to give myself as a young child that taught me the valuable lesson that my head is physically very large, and I should never attempt anything shorter than shoulder-length ever again.
And yeah, yeah, I’ve learned a lot since becoming a dog owner, especially all of the cliché crap like “life is more than just myself!!!” and “dogs really do become your best friend!!!” and blah blah blah. But I think my first year in dog ownership taught me much bigger, more important lessons than all of that existential crap, so here are a few of the most notable things I’ve discovered.
Naming a dog is a lot of fucking pressure.
Like, honestly I don’t know how actual parents name their children. It took me a whole month just to land on one of the most common dog names of all time.
When I had originally met my dog, her name was Doozy, as previously mentioned. I’m sure you cringed when you read that, especially as I didn’t mention a name change of any kind. But fear not, as I did change it. I did try to like the name Doozy, though. I was trying to not confuse her as much as possible, so I reallllllllly tried to get into the name. However, as you’re probably already aware, Doozy is a truly stupid name for any dog, let alone one as lovely as mine. I came to this realization about three days into our journey together. She had gotten out one afternoon, and luckily I was just coming home from work. My roommate drove the neighborhood as I ran down the street with one of her toys yelling, “DOOOOOZY!!!!!” with a clear shred of desperation coming out of my voice. I’m not even sure anyone knew I was looking for a dog rather than just making some weird noise while carrying a stuffed animal through the street.
Luckily for me, one of my neighbors had let me know that some other guys down the road found her and took her to their yard. I walked down to the house, and of course was greeted by two really good-looking men who were about my age. Unluckily for me, Doozy had escaped though a hole in their fence minutes before I had arrived, so we had to walk the streets together looking for her. When they asked me what her name was, I knew immediately then and there that I could no longer live with a dog with such an embarrassing name. I don’t even think the guys yelled her name out just so they could keep their dignity I had clearly lost long ago. Long story cut somewhat short, we found her chilling on someone’s front steps, and the search for a new name began.
It took a long time to find something that I wouldn’t be ashamed to scream through the neighborhood at any hour of the night if she were to run away again. Many offered their suggestions, some as simple as “Luna” to some as horrifying as “Carol” (ahem, Elise). Eventually I landed on Maggie. She was definitely a Maggie.
Also, if either of those guys happens to read this, I just need you to know that I did not voluntarily name her Doozy, and I’m grateful they waited to talk shit about the name until we found her safe and I wasn’t around to hear it.
Though she makes a great running buddy, my dog will always be in better shape than I ever will be.
Maggie was about a year and a half old when I had adopted her, meaning she’s still basically a puppy and has puppy energy. And while I was quite lucky that she’s pretty mellow for her age, she still needed exercise. I take her on daily walks, and occasionally I will take her running with me if I don’t want to commit to a whole hour of the “stroll-and-stop” while watching her climb shrubs to pee on top of. Motherhood, am I right?
Anyway, she actually makes an excellent running partner. She pulls much less than she does when we’re just walking, and her endurance is pretty great. Sooooo great that it actually makes me a little jealous, actually. I’m not saying I’m a great runner. For how much I enjoy running, I’m actually a horrible runner. I can run a decent distance but I don’t have the speed, and to be honest I look like hell when I do it. I can only imagine what trained runners think of my form as they drive past me on their way to their triathlon training, but that’s only if they aren’t distracted by my bright red glowing tomato face. Maggie, on the other hand, has perfect form and has her absurd little grin on her face when she runs. She’s the kind of dog that would make it on the cover of Runner’s World next to Kate Hudson as they go through a leisurely long-distance jog along Mission Beach.
There’s no way I’ll stop running since I really do enjoy it so much, but would it kill Maggie to not be such an athletic partner? Bitch I get it, you’re young and in shape. I’m also young but the fact that I’m winded before my dog is kind of a punch to my ego in all honesty.
Commitment is terrifying.
I’m saying this as a person who really wants to pretend to have commitment down to a science while in all reality I’m the queen of changing my mind. Yeah, yeah, I’ve been in very long-term relationships. I committed myself to four years in college. I chose to pursue a career in journalism. I’ve dedicated myself to a conditioner that has kept my hair the organized chaos that it is to this day.
But when I brought Maggie home, I actually called my mother every single day, several times a day (God bless her soul) in the middle of an anxiety attack wondering what the hell I just locked myself into. I brought this loud, massive creature into my house for me to live with and look after for 10+ years. How would I travel? What if she runs away? What if my boyfriend doesn’t like her? What if I can’t find a dog-friendly place to live next? What if she wakes up one day and realizes that she doesn’t want to be there and attacks me and leaves me for dead????
Turns out none of those things happened or really even mattered.
I had just gotten out of college, where I was told since elementary school that college was in the plan. I had been in a relationship where I wasn’t sure where it was going. I took a job that was “good enough” because I was too scared to look elsewhere and leave my life behind. I desperately wanted to change something for myself, and we all knew it wasn’t going to be another drastic haircut or something. But as soon as I got home and was alone with my thoughts and my brand new dog, it was my fear that I had wanted to make an “adult” choice for myself and that I had completely overestimated my ability to handle making my own choices for once.
After the initial two weeks had calmed down, so did I. I didn’t know that I could love something that wasn’t another person so much. She drove me literally insane, but she got me out of the house every day, even during those dark and twisty ones. She sang along with me during our car rides to the lake or to visit my parents. She cuddled with me every single morning when nobody was there to do it. I could only see a little judgment in her eyes when I was drinking wine and dancing around my room while my roommates were all out of town. In reality, Maggie was the scariest, yet easiest commitment I made to date.
The term “dog mom” is genuinely so fucking stupid, and I wish people would stop describing me as such.
The moment I adopted Maggie and brought her home I felt very different. I had made this massive change in my life. I had someone other than myself I had to remember to feed, bathe, brush and exercise, and honestly I had a hard time doing anything of those things for myself. Hell, I lose my own hairbrush at least twice a month. But now I had all of this responsibility for this 45-pound fur ball.
Though none of it has been super easy, the last year with Maggie has been so life changing. But I don’t want to be called a “dog mom.” I mean, I guess I get why people call themselves that. You’re doing a lot of things actual mothers do in terms of keeping another living creature alive and happy. But let’s be real – children are a lot harder than dogs. Maybe I’m only saying this due to my irrational fear of children. If you know me at all, I’m not sure how to be with kids. I don’t know what to do when kids try to tell me a story. What am I supposed to do when they look at me over the back of their booth at a restaurant? Why do they cry over everything? How does one make them laugh? Why are they always sticky? And then they grow up to become uncontrollable hellions. Actual moms put up with a ton of shit – literally and physically – while I’m just literally picking up a lot of shit and carrying it in a bag through the entire duration of our walks.
Now I’m going to get all gross and sappy: She will never be called my fur-baby (barf) because has become my best friend. If I’m not hanging out with her, I’m wishing I were home so I could be. If I’m taking a shower, I know she’s laying outside of my door waiting for me. If I am lying in my bed, her head is on my shoulder. If my parents are dog-sitting her while I’m traveling, my heart is hurting because my partner in crime isn’t with me.
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, this past year was one of the most challenging years of my life. My long-term relationship came to an end, best friends have moved across the country, I struggled in a job that I liked but felt stuck in. But I can guarantee that if Maggie were not a part of it, it would have been a horrible year. That’s not to say that having a dog wasn’t extremely hard. I’ve come home to trash spread across my house, poop on the carpet, once-full Crisco jars empty on the kitchen floor, and dirt in my bed. Bringing her home was hands-down the best goddamn choice I’ve ever made, and I’m stoked to have her be my shadow for the next 10+ years.
Also – adopt, don’t shop.