I’ve been in quarantine since March 15th. Quarantine has not been easy.
Let’s be honest, quarantine fucking sucks.
I’ve never “hung out” with myself so much to the point of becoming utterly tired of “me”.
I complain a lot about my neck when confronted with a mirror. I repeat scripted lines from shows that I think are funny (in real-time). I say “OW” when I slightly stub my toe or tbh if I hear a loud noise, not at all connected to any physical pain on my person.
This was all learned in the first 2 weeks of Pandemic Q-time.
I know what you’re thinking– “These things are completely human and unavoidable when quarantined solo.” I beg to differ.
I could cover up all the mirrors in the apartment much to the liking of any vampire currently stalking me. I can’t really do much about my mimicking though– sorry about that.
I could youtube some fake neck exercises, perhaps some “Face Yoga” which I’ve tried, don't think works, and makes me look like I’m in a fit of exaggerated facial olympics.
All of the above sent me into a self-loathing spiral that not even the brightest rainbow-colored bath bomb could wash away.
And this is when I started to entertain the thought of getting a dog.
I read so many articles of there being an adoption surge, especially in New York. At this point, so many dogs were being fostered and adopted that I was again annoyed with myself that I didn’t think of this sooner. Adopting a dog wasn’t so much about redirecting my anxiety about being alone but more so to have something that I needed to take care of besides myself.
I’m at the age that I felt that I was ready to take on the responsibility of caretaker, mom, and overall BFF to a pup.
Here’s my story of adoption gone wrong (?) or gone right (?)
Like most of you I signed up for all the adoption sites:
Adopt-a-pet, PetFinder, EVERY SINGLE RESCUE WITHIN A 10 MILE RADIUS, and I commented on EVERY MuddyPaws Instagram post. Don’t believe me? Go and take a look.
I saw positive results right away, from rescue groups to individuals who were looking to relinquish custody of their dog due to reasons spanning from “we just had a baby and having a dog is too much work” to “getting a dog was an ill-timed decision.”
One month into quarantine.
I spoke with one family that reached out to me via Adopt-a-Pet. We spoke for about two days about me meeting Fred before heading over to Bayridge. Fred is a corgi/beagle/golden retriever mix who hailed from Russia. Fred was found on the streets where his now mom rescued him and brought him to New York- because why wouldn’t you?
I was told beforehand that Fred was a “special boy”. When I asked for some elaboration on this title I was told that 'he lives in his head' and is the happiest sleeping on the couch.
This was not the case when I met Fred.
I was greeted by Fred’s dad who immediately filled me in on some of Fred's other personality traits.
I was told that Fred does not like to be touched and will need his owner to be extremely alert when he’s taken out on walks, as "he likes to lunge at people, especially children". I was not told this on any of our calls nor did Fred’s profile page on the adoption site mention his leash issues. Don’t get me wrong, I know that this dog has done nothing wrong and that he is a product of nature vs nurture. It just would’ve been nice to know these things before meeting him. The dog's needs need to match the owner's experience, lifestyle, and abilities. When I finally met Fred, he was scared and skittish. I knelt down, lowered my palm out slowly and he lunged at me. Fred's mom told me a very different story; her take was that she never wanted to get “rid” (her words not mine) of Fred, but that he had become a point of contention on her relationship with her husband.
I decided not to adopt Fred. I wasn't expecting a dog to feel like 'mine' with no issues to work on from the jump. I just felt a sort of tug-o-war, not between Fred and myself but between Fred’s Mom and Dad, and this wasn't the right fit.
As you can imagine I was a bit weary after my initial experience in adoption, but it left me undeterred and instead more driven than ever.
50 days into quarantine.
As I sat in my apartment, gazing out of the window– I asked myself, “Am I the one who needs to be adopted?” - JK
My second attempt (for now) to adopt, came in the form of a pretty late phone call. It was about 9:45 pm on a Thursday night. I was contacted by a gentleman from an adoption agency that will go unnamed. I was signed up for so many rescues/ agencies/ private adopters at that point that I had to ask which one this guy was from. This guy let me know that the dog I was interested in was available and he could swing by my apt the next day around the 1 pm hour. I agreed.
I was prepared with dog bowls, treats, paw wipes, the whole 9– I mean, let’s be honest I work for Maev, a dog wellness brand. Also, you can imagine my co-worker’s joy when I filled them in on the Friday plan. I was finally going to be paired with the pup of my dreams - a small Sheeba/ Lab mix rescued and flown in from Puerto Rico.
As the 1 o’clock hour swiftly approached, I encountered so many emotions. I was excited, nervous, hopeful and most importantly STOKED that I was, in my mind, about to become a mom. The “number 1” in this dog’s life and he would be the “number 1” in mine but, sometimes the best-laid plans erupt into a large pile of shit.
The guy arrived promptly at 1 pm with my dream pup. I waited patiently while the dog was taken out of a crate from the back of a late model SUV.
The guy put the leash on my new pup and told me to take him for a walk down the street, I remember thinking this is all moving so fast. Shouldn’t this guy tell me more about the pup? Shouldn’t I wade into this meeting much like one introduces a new fish into an already existing fish tank? NOPE! Just take the leash and walk him around the block. The guy said, “he’s skittish at first but he’ll warm up to you.” Where had I heard this before? Oh yeah... my first failed attempt at adoption.
I took the leash against my better judgment and proceeded to walk down the block with my new dog– halfway down the block, the dog started growling and pulling on the leash as far as he could get away from me. I again, knelt down, slowly giving my palm to which the dog still backed away. Am I dog-repellant?
I ended up getting the halted dog to walk back to the SUV and the guy told me, “Don’t worry! He just has to get to know you.” At this point, I was at a loss and let the guy know that this interaction was obviously not the right fit.
I know what you’re thinking… dogs need work, especially rescue pups with a history, and I completely agree. To be honest, I almost took the dog if only to rescue him from this guy who seemed eager to get rid of him.
After I explained that this unfortunately didn't seem like a fit, the guy let me know that he has another dog, conveniently also in the back of the late-model SUV, that he felt would be a better fit.
I agreed to take the second dog on a walk around the block. This dog, although skittish, was more open to walking on leash and easier to pet and hold. I thought, fuck it! This dog needs a home and I have one. I walked back to the guy and let him know that I was going to try the weekend with this lil pup, to make sure our needs aligned– he was elated and shoved a bag full of medications and paperwork in my direction. As he left, he offered up this little nugget of information, “NEVER, ever take his collar off- PR rescue dogs run and you won't ever see him again. What time do you eat breakfast?”
I didn’t really understand the relevance of this question as I had yet to be told of the pup’s medication schedule.
Me: “I eat breakfast around 10; breakfast being coffee :/"
Guy: “No, you’ll need to eat breakfast earlier- he needs his pills at 8 am every day!”
Me: “Oh that's totally fine but what are the pills for?”
Guy: “It’s nothing, just heart meds and some kidney thing - it’s fine - you’ll do great"
Just like that the guy hopped back into his late-model SUV and drove away. I was left standing on the sidewalk, dog in arms, bag draped around my neck, dumbfounded that this had all taken place so quickly.
Me and Mickey– he came with that name and I quite enjoyed it! We head upstairs. I showed Mickey his new digs– pardon the pun. I offered him an “anxiety and mental health” vitamin bar, Mickey could not be bothered with food, treats, or vitamins. I decided he probably wanted to go out on another walk. So we did!
When we got back home, Mickey started panting and pacing. I expected that Mickey was going to take time to adjust to his new environment. I put on some quiet slow music and sat on the floor with him but nothing helped. He was with me for about 3 hours- during this time, I researched all his medications, called the vet that I’d already vetted– puns...I love ‘em! Mickey was not the pup that I thought I’d be adopting, so I was now researching everything I could about mix breeds from Puerto Rico and that’s when the seizure began.
Out of nowhere, Mickey started shaking and foaming at the mouth. I did my best to stay calm. I called the vet and they suggested that I bring him in once the seizure was over. They also suggested that when I had a chance to call the “guy”, that I should ask if he had any additional information on any other medical issues that Mickey may have.
Reluctantly, I called the guy who was not much help at all. All he said was that Mickey had arrived from Puerto Rico 2 days ago and that I knew as much as he did. The guy then told me that he would come to pick Mickey up and take him to his vet and then get back to me with a prognosis. I agreed, which now I look back on and want to kick myself about. The guy came back and took Mickey. I never heard from the guy again. I probably called and texted him and the rescue over 1000 times. I know that number seems high, but I can assure you that I am nothing but relentless when it comes to something that I want.
And now here we are- dogless and still in quarantine.
I guess the moral of the story here is that as much as I thought my adopting a dog was this ultimate selfless act. I was wrong.
I was only attempting to adopt a dog to deny the realization of deeper issues within myself, I was redirecting my hang-ups by trying to focus on this other thing to satiate my uneasiness with being alone.
In the end, I realized that I would be making a selfish decision not only for myself but ultimately for the phantom pup that I had been projecting upon, and maybe the universe saw this as well and decided to pee on my leg and call it rain.
To end on a funnier note– I found that rescuing/adopting a dog is much like the feeling one gets when you like someone more than you can stand. You think about them day and night, you stalk their Instagram or in a dog’s case, their adoption profile page. You imagine what walks on the beach would be like; it’s this glorified idea of this problem-less entity that will love you more than anything, more than you love yourself. You’d be their “number one” and they’d be yours. In the end, the truth is, nothing is as perfect as it is in your head, especially now.
Weigh your options carefully when deciding to take on a responsibility of this magnitude and know that all of these fairytale adoption stories are riddled with underlying situations that you’re not meant to be made privy to.
Not everyone’s adoption stories are this grim, but someone needed to shed light on the downside of pandemic adoption. I really hope that reading this, it will inspire anyone who’s had a similar experience to HMU. Please do! And know that I do look forward to a time when I’m in a space to successfully adopt a dog because I can only imagine that having a “number one” and being a “number one” can’t be easy but it has to feel doggone good. (The last pun, I promise.)