Now Part of a Team

Years and years (two, to be exact) I’ve thought about getting a dog. A boxer, namely. (The original idea and current wish is that it would be a talking dog.) I awoke inexplicably at 7:30am yesterday and layed and watched the sunrise over Ugly Building West, now Mayonnaise Place, and thought, “Why don’t I just go down to the shelter and check out what they have.”

I perused online and saw everything from beagles to pit bulls. With all these needy pets and my penchant for a cracking heart when I look into their eyes, I knew that I would be coming home with a dog if I went. I didn’t care what kind it was, just as long as we had some sort of connection. Johnny came over and we headed to PAWS, a beautiful no-kill shelter in Lincoln Park.

The dogs all sat in their own rooms with descriptions hanging outside each of their doors. These descriptions were written in first person, so I felt a sense of relief. “Well, maybe they can’t talk but their writing isn’t all that bad.” To pet the dogs, I needed to fill out a short survey asking pertinent questions such as ‘How long are you away from home,’ ‘Name and ages of other pets,’ etc. With pass in hand, I wandered the somehow un-stinky hallways and gazed at the happy dogs. A Mastiff caught my eye at first, but the sheer size of the beast prevented me from getting to know her. I just feel that it would be cruel to keep a dog like that in an apartment while its legs just ached to run up a mountain and bring fresh water to its faltering master. Mutts played, slept, played with the volunteers, and were, well, dogs. Through one quiet window, though, my heart exploded leaving invisible blood and gore all over the window. Sleeping on a pillow was Emma, a seven-year-old Bull Boxer. “Can I pet her?”

“Of course.”

She awoke and gingerly wandered over and began licking my jeans. She was full-grown, mean-as-shit looking, and softer than fresh baked bread. The volunteer had no info on her (for that’s not her job…her job is to merely walk them, play with them, etc.) so I went to the front desk to inquire. I was met by a tiny, red-haired older woman (her position was “Adoption Counselor”)that had the patience and kindness of a kindergarten teacher. She found Emma’s file and we sat in a small room and went through it. “She was relinquished by her former owners because she is an alpha-female.”

“She doesn’t get along with other dogs?”

“Well, she’s fine with submissive ones, but she tends to fight for superiority when it comes to other alphas.”

I nodded in silence but in my head said, “That little bad ass.”

“Everything is current, as far as shots, but she does have anxiety that she takes medication for.”

“I think I may have dated her before.”

Luckily, she snickered and continued, “Knowing what you now know, do you still want to proceed with the adoption paperwork?”

“Yes. Oh, yes I do.”

The lengths that PAWS goes to to insure a good, healthy home is admirable. Here are a few of the clauses of the contract which I signed:

  • “I agree to hold the dog in the highest regard as a member of my family, and to provide the dog with proper care, wholesome food, water, shelter, medical attention, socialization, love, and affection.”
  • “I agree to return follow-up calls/emails about my adopted PAWS dog. If I do not, then I agree to allow PAWS to inspect my home, the adopted dog, and the adopted dog’s living quaters at any time. I understand that if PAWS finds this contract is being violated or that the dog is not being cared for properly, PAWS has the right to reclaim the dog and the adopter will surrender the dog on demand and make no further claims against PAWS. This shall not be considered a trespass and no money shall be refunded.”
  • “I understand that I am adopting this dog as a permanent member of my household and the dog shall reside in my home. The dog will not be kept outdoors, in a doghouse, on an outdoor porch, or on a chain.”

Needless to say, it was a bit frightening (“What if I fuck this poor animal up?”) and reassuring knowing that they care this much. After signing, we sat and talked about how to live with a dog such as Emma.

“Don’t let her walk you. Always be the first to go through doors, turn corners, etc.” “Sprinkle her anxiety medication on top of her food.” “Play and run with her. She needs exercise.” You know, typical dog things. A few more steps and she was mine.

Luckily, PETCO opened a store directly across the street so they held her for a little longer while I went and bought a collection of dog things I, obviously, didn’t have. Leather collar with studs, check. Heavy duty chain leash, check. Weird dried meat thingys, check.

Luckily, Emma loves cars so it was no problem getting her into Johnny’s backseat. She came preloaded with knowledge of commands (in English and German), so even walking her is a cinch. She sits at crosswalks, only moving when being told, doesn’t bark (but makes a hilarious noise as if someone is laughing really hard and trying to catch their breath), and loves her butt scratched.

I got her home and after exploring for a minute, she drank some water and then stood at the couch, where I was seated, and looked at me. I patted the couch and she jumped up, sighed, fell asleep, and, I swear, snored. Wow.

We went on a nice, long walk through the bird sanctuary and park where she smiled the entire time. Sticks are a favorite, so much so that nearly the entire walk she gripped one as long as her in her powerful jowls and grunted and, eventually, decimated the useless nature garbage.

This dog is incredible.

I wanted to rename her, but she is seven, after all, and has never known a different name. What with this anxiety, I didn’t want to add to it a self-image problem, so Emma it will remain.

As I de-robed for bed last night, she jumped on the bed and waited for me. She remained standing as I became horizontal. I didn’t know what to do, but she needed something. I pulled up the blanket and she buried herself against my leg and completely under the covers. I was so happy that I almost couldn’t fall asleep.

Cheers to you, Emma.

UPDATE: The whole “anxiety” thing was left over from her former home. I asked the vet and she said, “This dog on anxiety medication? Why?”

“I don’t know.”

“Take her off. If anything happens, call me and we can get her back on, but it doesn’t seem like she needs it.”

“I didn’t think so, either.”

(I had already weened her off of the medication because I didn’t have enough and couldn’t get more until we went to the vet. As the doses got less and less, her behavior actually got better, which was further proof that it wasn’t medication that she needed, just undying love, one that cannot be given by children and other dogs…only from an opinionated jerk living in Uptown without either of the prior. Oh, and Emma is happier than ever.) I’ve since learned:

  • She will only walk on your left side. If you try and move her to the right side, she will only return to the left. I believe this is her penchant for the “Left Hand Path,” as outlined in Behemoth’s “At the Left Hand Ov God.”
  • It isn’t that she doesn’t like dogs, it’s just the little ones that angers her, and in this we agree completely. She actually has the ability, with sheer power of her voice, to make those little poops pee all over the sidewalk. And their owners to scream. I warned them, though.
  • You can, actually, switch her food to something completely different. As long as the food bowl is not stainless steel on the bottom, she doesn’t care.
  • She will not, repeat: WILL NOT, sleep on the couch with me. I actually have to go to “bed.”
  • She likes crackheads and their weird ways of saying things, such as, “She’s the big shit, with a capital ‘C!'”
  • Flashlights are not something to help you, but something to kill, kill, kill.
  • She likes to show me her vagina first thing in the morning. I don’t know why it is, but, yet, every morning there it is.
  • She watches, from the third story window, me taking out my trash with the cutest goddamn face in the world.

I’m sure there’s more, but there are years to come.

7 Responses to “Now Part of a Team”
  1. April says:

    Have you ever searched for “talking dogs” or “talking pets” on youtube? Trust me, you won’t be sorry.

  2. Oh, yes. But that does not put one in my household.

    I’m trying the following:

    “Dirt off my shoulder.”
    “I prefer the old Metallica.”
    “When is this fucking city going to warm up?”
    “Give me food, dick.”
    “I gotta shit.”

  3. Kara says:

    That was adorable. I hope you two are very happy together.

    (I don’t know how to ‘blogroll’)

  4. Steve says:

    Truly enjoyable read…It looks like you won’t need Cesar Millan to tame Emma.

  5. todd. says:

    God damn, Luc. Save this shit for Oprah. Or Emma’s blog, which I’m sure you’ll start any day now.

  6. Oprah, wow. I thought a glimmer of heart would show you a side that I’ve never shown, not that you would damn me from the get-go.

    How about I make it up to you, what with getting all worked up with anger and what not, by dressing her in a third-string sport jersey that you’re into (you’ll have to inform me of a store)…(damn, I would also need a wig store to get those long locks of the “striker” that you’re so into)…take her out…and tell me that you didn’t fall in love with her.

    It might be good…she’s loud, but only talks half as much as you.

    And what she says is way more important.

  7. Rox says:

    So I found your blog through flickr. As bizzarr as this sounds, I volunteer at PAWS and knew Emaa when she was there. She’s awsome. I’m thrilled you two found each other 🙂

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