When I was sixteen years old I convinced a dog rescue to break the law for me.
Here’s how that happened;
I wanted a dog. I wanted a dog the way some women start wanting babies. I read every book on dog behavior and psychology I could find. I scoured breeders’ websites and I researched bloodlines. I attended agility and conformation shows and imagined hiking, walking, driving, playing guitar, snuggling, with my dog.
I was basically lovesick over the idea of my very own Czech/German Shepherd, and I saved up two-thousand dollars to buy one.
Go big or go home.
Reality starting hitting (that dog would be difficult to carry home if she got hurt, and would my future apartment complex be wary of such an animal?) and then my conscience kicked into overdrive. With millions of dogs and puppies euthanized every year, who did I think I was contributing to an overpopulation problem?
Thus, the quest for the perfect mutt was embarked upon.
I want to make this story short(er), so I’ll spare you much in the way of details, but you do have to know that I’d all-but given up when I shambled into Petsmart for rat food. They had adoptions that day (who’d have thought) and this wiggling black ball of energy immediately caught my attention. The pure joy radiating out of this puppy was magnetic. I picked her up, she slathered my chin in slobber, and I was a goner. They told me she was called “Coco”.
…and that she was called for! Devastated, I refused to consider her siblings and pouted all the way home. I’m pretty sure I assumed the world was ending, there was no god, and the next step was nihilism. I spent the next day wallowing in self-pity. Exasperated, Mom and Dad forced me into the van to go look at Coco’s siblings.
No other puppy measured up. We were about to leave when the foster mom announced that the people who wanted “Coco” didn’t fit adoption requirements and God still existed.
As I was underage, it was illegal for me to adopt the puppy, so my parents filled out the application.
We waited for the response.
The response was, “I’m sorry, but you both are way too irresponsible to own a dog.”
This began an epic battle in which I sought to convince them that though my parents were less than stellar at adulthood, I was a pro. I had my friends’ parents and my babysitting clients call the rescue to sing my praises. I sent them emails explaining the dog behavior books, the agility courses I intended for my dog, my bank balance. I was a fury of puppy-wanting lunacy.
They were impressed, but it was illegal, and good luck on my ventures.
So I played dirty. I sent them pictures of the dog crate, of the bowls, the leash, the park. I showed them the apartment complex in Colorado I was intending to move to after graduation. I sent them a detailed schedule of a typical day.
Friends, I am persistent.
They called to tell me that some rules were meant to be broken, and could I pick her up Christmas day?
I thanked my ninth-grade speech and debate class and Coco became Kira.
Lets fast-forward four and a half years.
The emotional turmoil spawned from what to do about the dog has been astronomical.
I’m a twenty-one year old scratching by in a college-town condo. I am going to be working two jobs (oh frick, I have to tell you about that!) and trying to have solid hang-out times with friends. I want to travel. I want to go out dancing. Dogs are expensive in deposits and extra-rent.
And the family that was watching Kira while I gallivanted in Australia wants to keep her. They said “please please please” and listed their stable home environment, the daily bike-rides, the three doting children, and the acres of land, among other things, to persuade me that their home was a good one for Kira.
I’ve never been so torn. On one hand they are right, and on the other hand, my God, can you imagine coming back from another country, reeling from the trip and detached from one’s culture, and not having the dog as some semblance of familiarity? Instant home; just add dog.
Many tears shed, many nights spent tossing, and much what-is-love rhetoric later, and I spent Sunday morning in the lawn outside of church waiting for the family to give me back Kira.
Kira yelped and cried and spun around in circles. I was slightly less emotional. Slightly.
So I don’t know if I’m doing the right thing, or if there even is a right thing. I know the family that took care of her is devastated (although, hello, I’m certainly not shocked to give back the children I am paid to babysit), and I know that things will be more difficult for both Kira and I here. But I also know that there is nothing that brings me more joy than watching this dog run around like a maniac, and nothing feels more like home than my routines with Kira.
Its a selfish kind of love, and I don’t know what to make of that.
What would you have done? Honestly?