A year ago today, I adopted this crazy ball of fluff:
I had thought about getting a dog for years, but in a “one day” sort of way, along the lines of owning a house with built-in bookcases and a KitchenAid mixer. As much as I love dogs, and love going home to see my parents’ crazy, beautiful pup and my sister’s doting doggo, I just never really felt ready to be the person who always had to go home to let the dog out. I worried about the responsibility and the cost and traveling and finding dog-friendly rentals.
And none of those things has changed.
But last summer, sitting on a park bench in Chicago with my mom, I finally just decided that life is too short to keep waiting for the perfect scenario. A few days later, I was back in Austin and at the animal shelter, where I almost had a breakdown. I had gone a little over an hour before closing with the intent of surveying the dogs myself before my sister and my brother’s girlfriend Rachel arrived the next day. I had mentioned the possibility of getting a dog during the weekend of their trip—a risky proposition since their dual excitement levels officially put the pressure on, turning an idea into a more tangible reality. Wandering all of the kennels there, I was just overwhelmed by all of the dogs in need of homes, each with his or her own hidden history and sometimes not-so-hidden behavioral issues. It struck me that a dog might need more care and attention than I was able to give, and it all just felt like such a crap shoot. I left there, in the rain, doubting my decision.
Mostly recovered two days later, we had set a tentative plan to go and look at one of the other shelters in town. I reiterated that I wasn’t so sure this was going to happen in the next few days and made clear that I didn’t want them to be disappointed if it wasn’t the right timing or fit. I was also reassuring myself that I didn’t need to move forward if I didn’t find the right dog, trying to reduce my anxiety levels. After grabbing lunch, I saw a reference in my Instagram feed to a pet expo taking place at a convention center downtown. It wasn’t clear exactly what it was about, but there seemed to be the promise of dogs in weird outfits, so we went with that in mind and our expectations low.
Mostly, that’s what it was—tons and tons of pet product booths and some breed-specific rescues looking for volunteers. So many dogs, from Great Danes to Chihuahuas, wandering around with their owners, but only a couple of groups with dogs available for adoption. My sister and Rachel walked over to a kennel with two dogs inside—a 3 year old and a 1.5 year old, one a beautiful yellow Collie mix and the other a cow-looking big black and white dog. We weren’t sure which age was which. They started petting the black and white one through the gates, and urged me to come over, but my first reaction was not positive. “No, no. Absolutely not. He’s way too big. No. Can you imagine the shedding? You’re nuts,” pretty much sums it up. But they pushed on, commenting on how sweet he was, how calm he seemed. I was more interested in the other one, honestly—until we overheard that she had massive separation anxiety and had been adopted out and returned three times. They wouldn’t adopt her out to a family without another dog in the house.
The foster family for the black and white dog was there and told us they had been taking care of him on their farm for over a year, since he was a puppy. A Border Collie/Great Pyrenees mix. “Would you like to take him out for a walk?” she asked me. Pressed by the vigorously nodding heads of my compatriots, I said yes.
We wandered through the maze of dogs without drama and took him outside, me peppering the foster mom with questions the whole time. How was he with other dogs? Cats? Was he fully housetrained? What other training? Had he ever bit anyone? Any health issues? Could he be alone all day while I was at work? We walked him around the back grass for a few minutes, me contemplating life with this 70 pound addition.
And then we stopped for a minute, and he sat down on top of my feet and looked up at me, and I was toast.
Inside, I filled out an application which was immediately approved (something about being in foster for over a year will do that). I bought a leash from one of the vendors and went home with a dog who would soon be named Riggins, after Tim Riggins of Friday Night Lights fame. Don’t you see the resemblance?
He is a mellow dude who spends most of his time sleeping, often with half of his body squeezed under the furniture.
While I’ve had a lot to learn this year, he is generally very well behaved, not getting up on anything, not getting into anything he’s not supposed to, generally good on the leash. On the rare occasions he gets about 10 seconds of the zoomies, he slows his pace between the coffee table and the couch so as to avoid getting in trouble for knocking anything over, which is a truly hilarious sight.
He doesn’t appreciate loud noises and has developed his Pyrenees barking ability in the last few months to make that point clear, a development I’m not super pleased about. He hates UPS trucks and trains and when I whip open a new trash bag. He spends a decent amount of time hiding in the shower. His shedding is truly epic, despite my best brushing attempts and growing collection of industrial-grade grooming tools. I now own two vacuums. I should buy stock in lint rollers.
He is thoroughly confused by violins.
It hasn’t been stress-free and it has been more expensive than I anticipated, but I am SO GLAD I rolled the dice and took home this very fluffy, friendly dude. He makes me laugh every day and adds so much joy to my life. I feel lucky to have found such a calm, cuddly companion. Being outside more while walking him and having someone to take care of have both been hugely beneficial to me.
So today I’m celebrating one year with Riggins.