I’ve been keeping a secret. Well, not so much a secret as I haven’t been able to bring myself to tell the world. But it’s been two months so I suppose I’m over it enough to talk about it. Remember my puppy, Baz? Well, he’s gone.
I waited ten years to get a dog. I planned and planned and planned, and when it finally came to it, I couldn’t handle it.
I had Baz for exactly two weeks, and in those two weeks, I cried almost every day, had an anxiety attack every other day, dreaded coming home to him, and had to go on depression and anxiety medication. For a while, I thought it was just the shock of the change, the huge weight of responsibility suddenly hefted on me after having pets that required very little attention/monitoring (cats and rabbits pretty much do their own thing). Maybe it was just the shock of everything, but my brain couldn’t handle it.
I haven’t told anyone except people who already knew- people at work who knew the problems I was having, my family, one friend who I can always trust to understand and be sympathetic. Why didn’t I tell people that I got rid of Baz after only two weeks? Embarrassment, shame, feeling like a failure, guilt. All of those things that contribute to depression and anxiety, which I have suffered from since I was 16.
How can someone just get rid of a puppy, people ask. Wasn’t it cute? Didn’t he make you happy? What was wrong with him? To tell you the truth, there was absolutely nothing wrong with the dog. He was cute, sweet, smart, friendly, rambunctious, playful. He had already learned to ring the bell to go outside (not potty trained, but he knew the bell meant the door opened). He was the best dog I could have hoped for, which was why I had spent a year looking in the first place. But when I looked into his face, I felt nothing. I didn’t feel happy. I felt anxious. I felt trapped.
So I texted the breeder and she immediately agreed to take him back. This is why I went to a breeder. This is why I spent the time researching, waiting. Because I knew that if anything ever happened (though I had thought it wouldn’t happen after two weeks), that she would take him back and I would at least be safe in the knowledge that she would find him a good home, somewhere his owner would love him and look forward to coming home to him.
So I didn’t tell people and I struggled with feelings of guilt and feeling as if I failed myself. I felt guilty that I couldn’t handle having a puppy, the one thing I’d wanted for so long. I felt selfish for wanting my life back, my quiet, clean house with only the cat leaving tufts of fur on the carpet, not chewing up rugs and whining at night. I consoled myself with the knowledge that Baz would find a better fit for him. I didn’t want to keep him and be perpetually unhappy for an indeterminate amount of time, because I knew he would sense it. He would be unhappy too.
So it’s been two months, and I learned a lesson the hard way. I wasn’t ready for a puppy. I’m not sure I was ready for a dog at all, and now that time has passed, I still have moments of, maybe I should have stuck it out. Maybe it would have gotten better. I’ll never know if it would have. Now, I wonder if I’m even a dog person. I had dogs practically my whole life but now that I’m older, now that I can finally get any pet I want, I find myself hesitating. As a kid, I wanted everything–birds, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, fish, turtles, dogs, etc. Either I’m maturing or I’m just becoming too anxious to have pets that require a lot of attention.
I went to Oregon for Thanksgiving because the day I decided to give up Baz, I felt a sudden urge to leave, to get out of town and away from everything making me feel so bad. When I was there, my mom and I went to the Humane Society, simply to look. It was a stress-free trip because there was no possibility of taking anything home, no “Ooh, that dog is so cute, I must have it.” Walking down the rows, I didn’t feel a pull to any dog. Of course, that could have been simply the dogs available. Or it could be the realization that I don’t want a dog. There was an adorable fluffy black kitten, though, that might have come home with me if I didn’t already have a cat that despises other animals.
So Baz is gone. Yes, he’s gone. I’ve been to the doctor more times this year than the past ten only to find out that I’m anemic and have a severe vitamin D deficiency. And you know, the anxiety and depression. This is one reason NaNoWrimo was so hard for me this year. Even after Baz was gone, I still felt depressed, overwhelmed, constantly anxious. It’s taken a few months, but things have finally evened out. I still feel bad sometimes, for letting him go, for not sticking it out, for putting myself through all of this.
I don’t know if I want a dog anymore. I don’t know if I started out too hard, with a puppy, if I had too many expectations that I couldn’t meet. Maybe I need to start out with an older, trained dog, then get a puppy later. Or maybe I should just stick with the cat. I don’t know for sure what I want or what I can handle. For now, I’m going to wait. If it’s meant to be, it’ll happen. The perfect dog will come along, or maybe it won’t. Maybe I am destined to become a crazy cat lady (with only one cat because Tiga won’t let me get another one, and she’ll probably live to be 30 years old just for that reason).
So I learned my lesson, the extremely hard way, probably the hardest way I could have. Some days I’m still not sure it totally sunk in, but other days, I know I did the right thing, and I have to be okay with that fact. Failure sucks but it happens, and you have to learn to be okay with it.