*Side note: I was going to put a little note in here about why I haven't written in so long, but I've decided I need to stop feeling the compulsion to explain any extended absence from the blogosphere. Life happens and I doubt you really care all that much. Sometimes I take breaks. No more explanation necessary. Now on to more important matters...
Penny was in no way a planned addition to the family. Penny just kind of happened. But let me explain.
I didn't get trained as a walker until mid December, and then didn't do my first walking shift until just after New Year's Eve. So from the start of my first walking shift, I made it exactly 7 weeks without bringing a friend home for Lucy. Although I had to be absent for 2 of those shifts, so technically I guess it was only 5 weeks.
As we know, from my "30 things to do before I'm 30" list, I happily checked off the item "walk dogs at the animal shelter." I picked up a 2 hour weekly shift and will soon be switching to the running group.
We may also remember that I posted this on Facebook shortly after getting approved as a walker:
|It was a joke, but apparently I'm the only one that thought so.|
Mathematics aside, I don't think it would have mattered when I met her. I hate to sound so cheesy and cliche, but it was love at first sight.
|I mean seriously, look at that face.|
I walked in on Thursday evening for my shift and did my usual stroll through the kennels to see who I'd like to walk first. There weren't a ton of walkable dogs that night, and as soon as I laid eyes on Penny (her name was Daffodil at the time), I ran and grabbed a leash before any of the other walkers could snatch her up.
As soon as I opened the kennel and bent down to leash her up, she immediately jumped in my lap (she's a little too big to be a lap dog, but she doesn't seem to know that). She was shaking and scared and all she wanted to do was cuddle. My heart began to ache for her right away.
When I finally got the leash on her and took her outside, the shaking didn't stop, and she refused to walk past the outdoor kennels at the shelter. So I went with her inside one of the play areas, where she immediately hopped up onto the one bench in the area. I sat down next to her, she sidled up next to me, half sitting on me, and we sat there together for 10 minutes as she continued to shake. More heart ache for this sweet little girl.
Once I finally got her to walk, she was great on the leash aside from every few moments where she would stop suddenly and begin shaking again.
When we got back inside the shelter and I put her back in the kennel, even though there were no more dogs left to walk, I couldn't leave. I went back into her kennel with her and snuggled for another good while. As other volunteers walked by, they joked that we both looked way too comfortable together.
When I finally pried myself away from her to head home, I told a few of the other volunteers "If she's still here next week, I'm adopting her." I call this my attempt at sanity. My attempt at being smart and not getting another dog. My attempt at convincing myself that this was just another cute shelter dog--I'd trust that she'd be adopted by a good family and I'd be happy for her. Because she was way too lovable and I knew she would be adopted in a snap.
|Just look at this princess. How could you not fall in love?|
But I still wasn't ready to admit that I was going to take her home. As much as I'd joked and talked about being tempted into getting another dog when I started volunteering, I never actually expected to. I didn't think I should. Or could.
So I posted this on Facebook (because when you're looking for encouragement, one way or another you can find it on Facebook...)
And the overwhelming response from my FB community: "do it!!" I had hoped for sanity. I should have remembered that a large portion of my friends are die-hard dog lovers too.
After a phone conversation with Nadine (TNT coach and fellow Seattle Animal Shelter dog walker/enthusiast), I had already formulated a plan for going in to adopt Penny the next day.
Although I still hadn't admitted to myself that I was doing it.
Then I went to a trivia night which just happened to be at Norm's (if you're not a Seattleite, Norm's is a dog-friendly bar--every table has some sort of adorable cuddly fluffball hitched to a table leg). I talked through my crazy decision with 2 more friends/dog lovers and began to let things start to sink in: Penny was going to be my dog.
Here is the other stroke of fate that made all this occur: I had last week off of work. Which meant, when I woke up without an alarm clock at 7:30 am, tossing and turning, unable to get Penny off my mind, I could go right down to the shelter and claim her.
After walking Lucy that morning, I was at the shelter by 9:30am (public adoption hours aren't until noon, but as a walker, I could finagle my way in early). I filled out the paperwork, and all I had left to solidify the adoption was for Lucy and Penny to meet.
This made me nervous. Lucy gets along with most dogs, but not all. When I thought about the possibility of the meet and greet with them not working, I felt those same horrible shakes and heart pangs as the evening before. But with the kindhearted assistance of Nadine, who met me at the shelter to help me out with the meet and greet, everything went smoothly. After dropping Lucy back home and a very expensive trip to Petco, Penny and I were on our way home.
|She wanted to climb in my lap the whole way home. It|
took all the strength I have in my piddly little right bicep
to keep her elbowed over into the passenger seat for the
10 minute drive.
The minute I brought her inside, this happened:
|That's Lucy's, "is this thing actually staying here?" look.|
Penny wanted to play and play and play some more.
|Except this happened. Lucy is not a snuggler. Penny is an|
over-snuggler. This lasted about 3 minutes. There are a lot
|All in our new designated couch positions: Lucy in her usual spot, me in|
my usual spot, and Penny on top of me.
This is what my bed looked like when I came home from work on Monday:
|See that perfect little Penny-sized indentation in the|
middle of my disheveled pillows?
And I've been all but kicked out of my own spot on the couch:
|Matching bundles of dog make my heart melt.|
What I've realized, and that I knew before but hadn't fully understood, is how much Lucy and I know each other. I rescued Lucy when she was 3 months old from a shelter in Long Island, NY. I brought her home just weeks before my first year of teaching. I house-trained her, I leash-trained her, and I taught her how to sit, stay and come (although she's never been exceptional with "come").
Lucy and I have been together for 7 and a half years and she knows me like no one else. Lucy has been with me through 4 apartment moves (one of those moves across the country). She's been with me through all my years of first graders. She knows all my routines. She can predict whether or not she gets to leave the house with me based on what pair of pants I put on. She forced me to start running. She's been with me through each half-ounce of a relationship I've had in the last few years.
And I know Lucy like no one else. I know every facial expression. I know what each whine and groan means. I know on walks if it's a "pee sniff," a "poop sniff," or just a "sniff sniff." I know all of her fears (mainly high-pitched beeping noises and fans). I know when she's nervous, uneasy, scared, or completely relaxed. I know what she needs at any moment of the day.
For 7.5 years, roommates (human and animal alike) have come and gone. But it's always been me and Lucy. Lucy and me. And for the last 3 years, it really has been just the two of us.
But now, there's Penny.
|Sweet, snuggly, wonderful Penny.|
I don't know how long it's going to take for us to get to know each other. But, in the week that we've known each other, I've learned enough about her that I think I've got a good start. Here's what I know:
1) She loves to snuggle. She's a lovebug. All she wants to do from the minute I walk in the door is be next to me or on top of me. I don't have to be petting her, she just needs to be in contact with me. If I'm busy around the apartment, she's alert to my every move until we're all settled.
2) She's not interested in treats as motivation. I've tried every kind of treat in the last week to get her interested in training. Regular ones. Super meaty ones. I even went to the grocery store and bought fresh cut deli turkey yesterday to try to motivate her through a walk. Not interested. This will prove to be extremely problematic when it comes to training. Luckily, she's old enough and knows enough that she doesn't require a lot of training. For the things I want to perfect, I'm going to have to get creative with how to train. But, somewhat confusingly, she gets really excited for meals and eats her food right away. Go figure.
3) I don't think she's ever been taken for long walks. She's not really sure how to handle them. There's some trepidation as we move further and further from the house. I think in past homes she's either only been taken out for potty breaks or just had a yard. We're working on this one. Lucy helps. My hope is that we'll get from long walks to running.
4) She loves Lucy. I think she was more excited to see that her new home had a dog than a person. I think she'll keep whittling away at Lucy's tough anti-snuggling exterior. At least I hope so.
5) When she's happy, her whole body wiggles. Like a worm. It's unstoppable. Not that anyone in the world would ever want to stop it.
And that's it. Six days at home, and this is what I know about Penny. I know there's so much more.
I can't wait to figure it out.
|My new family.|