Someone sent me a list one time of the least adoptable pets in shelters. It included senior dogs, adult cats, special needs animals of all kinds and pit bulls. Following my latest addition, I have now had the pleasure of welcoming all the unadoptables into my family and I assure you they are very much adoptable. There was Waldo the farty old 10-year-old mutt, Tilly the two-legged cat, Ralphie the black cat and now Charlie the pit puppy.
I grew up with family dogs but have spent adulthood as the craziest of crazy cat ladies so this is my first experience with my own puppy.
While none of the following was earth-shattering news to me, here’s what I confirmed about puppies in the first 24 hours…
People freaking love puppies. I can’t get out my front door without someone trying to stop me to pet this little peanut. I don’t blame them, but I’m not really prepared to interact with humans this frequently (not because I don’t like humans but because of the next point).
I have to wear a bra now. If I’m not touring something or doing an interview, I’m working from home. This means I get to sit around in my pajamas like a sloth a lot, but if I’m taking this urine-filled puppy out every two hours I feel some pressure to get dressed and look presentable… or at least put on a bra. Let’s start there.
People with babies don’t want to hear about how your puppy is like a baby. I tried this one on Ted. About 12 hours in to dog ownership I was all like: “Oh my life is so hectic now. You get it; you have an infant.” But he was having absolutely none of it.
People hate cats. Ask your friends to come to your house to celebrate your cats’ birthdays and they’ll act like you just invited them to a painkiller-free root canal. Approach a total stranger with a puppy and they will hand you a BFF necklace and invite you to dinner. It’s outrageous.
Cats hate puppies. My cats hate this puppy so much. Consequently, my cats hate me. They’ve had dog brothers and roommates before so I know they’ll get over it, but the initial introduction is causing some serious inter-species tension and I think they’re plotting my death.
People are weirder about pit bulls than I anticipated. I adopted a pit on purpose. I sought one out because I like the breed and think they make excellent family pets despite having a really bad reputation. In an attempt to correct people’s misconceptions about him, I introduce my puppy as a pit bull rather than as an American bulldog, boxer or mutt (which are the covers many owners use to avoid breed-specific stigma). I don’t mind if you think pit bulls are the devil’s dog, but we’re going to prove you wrong.
He is a member of our family. This was a given. All my animals are my family (not my property) and Charlie is no exception. As a pet’s human, you carry the responsibility of speaking for them when they can’t, and with this comes the heavy weight of potentially really hard decisions. What if he gets sick and dies young? Can I handle that? Assuming he lives a good long life but struggles towards the end, who makes the gut-wrenching decision it’s time to let him go? In the event of a separation, who gets him? When you look at that cute little face on day one, can you picture the almost 50-year-old version of you looking at a stinky grey 18-year-old version of him? Because if everything goes well, that’s what you just committed to. Those are the things you have to think about when you take in a new pet.
Adopting animals is fun and rewarding but you have to know what you’re getting yourself into. The work that went into getting my two-legged cat acclimated to our home was agonizing, and hands down the worst night of my life was the night she died*. She was on an operating table in Charlotte and I was in a cold hotel room in New York on business. The vet called to tell me Tilly had several heart attacks during surgery and would not make it, but they needed my consent to stop reviving her.
That’s not something you think about when you look at a cute little cat on day one – that you are her human and will have to make tough calls on her behalf and that one day someone might call and ask you an impossible question, the answer to which will effectively end her life. I begged the vet to stretch the operating room phone over to the table so I could say goodbye and then finally choked out the words, “Let her go.”
It sounds morbid but that’s what I was thinking about the day I adopted this puppy. I didn’t question whether or not I wanted him or if I could give him a good home or what kind of food I’d feed him. I can figure all that out. I questioned whether or not I could handle that level of potential heartache again. Tilly’s greatest legacy, I think, was teaching me that I can and that the love you get leading up to it is always worth it.
So I adopted this puppy. We are so happy to have him. Welcome home, Charlie.
*Oddly enough, the night Tilly died was also the night Ted called me up to tell me he had quit his job and to ask if I’d launch the Agenda with him. That part was not the worst.