Pet Type and Name:
Lucy – Miniature Pinscher/Beagle mix
Lucy was two years old, and the family who had her could not keep her anymore. I worked with her mom Miranda. I already had Max, a dog who was going on 20 years old, but I said "Why don't you bring her to work?" When I met her, I thought she was the ugliest dog I had ever seen. My Max was a poodle/terrier scruffy dog mix. He had a cute terrier face and lots of great fur. She had very short fur and looked like a scrawny rat. I decided to take her anyway.
This began a 3-month siege of constant battles. She chewed under doors, pooped and peed wherever she wanted, and drove me out of my mind. When I would correct her, she would bite at me. We had the worst relationship ever. It was awful! One day it finally hit me. I will kill this dog with love. I thought maybe she was so bad because she was having trouble adjusting. Then Max passed away. When that happened, I realized that I had previously had some resentment toward her – feeling that she was taking over Max's home or his place in my heart. With Max's death I lost this resentment, but I still couldn't figure out why she was not as well-behaved as Max. At one point someone offered to take her, but I could not do that to her. I could not put her through that kind of change again.
Once I began "killing her with kindness," she stopped chewing and peeing or pooping in the house. She never became a snuggler, but her actions changed. She became more anxious to please. Sometimes she scoots close to me in bed, but she still does not want me to pet her. Since I no longer freaked on her, she no longer freaked on me back. (a win for forcefree, positive reinforcement training). Then, on New Year's Eve 2008 going into 2009, we had a fire in our building. Lucy was upstairs in our apartment, so I ran back inside to save her. The fire destroyed my storefront, as well as our home. As we stood together in the street around 2:30 in the morning in the freezing cold watching our home go up in flames, I looked at her and said "We are in this forever kiddo." She kind of became a part of me in that moment.
Q: Do you talk to your pets? If so, what do you talk about? What do they say back?
I talk to her all the time. Usually I sing to her. That started after the fire. I sing in her ear quiet and slow "You are my shweetie pie. I will always love you. I will never leave you." You can watch her eyelids get heavy when I do this. A friend of mind pointed out that I also always say "Isn't that right Lucy?" about all kinds of topics.
Q: Imagine your pet as a human? What do they do for a living? What is their personality like?
I see Lucy in a clerical position. She would work in a cubicle with her glasses on a chain and wearing a shawl because she is chilly. She would be an "Old Maid", never married, and would read a lot – things like Shakespeare. She wouldn't have a lot of friends.
Forgiveness. She has been so forgiving of me.
Q: To you, what does it mean to be a responsible pet owner?
I am a strong proponent of spaying and neutering. Also, as a pet parent, my dogs go everywhere with me. I find that, when I rarely don't have them with me, I am still talking to them like they are there. I adopted another dog, Desi, a few years ago, and he is a story for another time.
Q: How have your pets changed your life?
They are my family. They are my home.
Q: Share a local resource for pets of any type that more people should utilize.
Fostering is something that so few people realize is a great thing to do. It frees up space in shelters. It gives the animals a chance to interact with humans more closely. It helps accustom the animals to the normal sights and sounds of a home that they may not know (or may forget if they are in a shelter for a long period of time) – sounds like a telephone ringing, a doorbell chime, what grass feels like between their toes, what it is like to have family around, that an umbrella opening is nothing of which to be afraid. Also, fostering is a huge help to the shelters.
Thank you to the ever fabulous, Kerry, owner of K.S. Kennedy Distinctive Gift, Floral and Gourmet, for sharing this beautiful story.
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