My family was always a cat family. Between ages 0-moving out to live with husband, I knew and loved Jessie, Duchess, Tom Thumb, Teddy, Cinders, Brugge, and Gizmo. Brugge and Gizmo are still around, meowing and stuffing themselves in shoeboxes at my parents’ house. One year late in high school, our cat-filled life changed forever.
We got a puppy.
I don’t really remember why I suddenly was insistent on having a dog. I do remember thinking it would be a good way to pull me out of my depression, since all I did was lie on the couch and sleep. A puppy would require me to take care of something, interact. We found a breeder in Wisconsin and got a little Pomeranian. We named him Yoshi.
Yoshi is a problem dog and having never owned or trained a dog, our family was ill-equipped. He refused to be trained beyond basic house-training, fetch, and sit. He hated his kennel and would bark at night. Pretty soon, we ended up putting him on anxiety meds because he was so neurotic, he would bark at an incredibly loud and high pitch at anything and everything and would not stop. The meds took the edge off so when he refused to stop barking, it wasn’t out of terror, but merely defiance. A professional dog-trainer called him “untrainable.”
Still, I adored him. He would nap with me me when I was sad and to this day, I’m really the only person he lets carry him around for long periods of time. With everyone else, he gets antsy eventually or in my husband’s case, punches him in the face with his paws or headbutts Chris’ throat. Yoshi has a lot of quirks that make him very endearing. On hardwood floors, he plays fetch but will walk backwards very slowly around obstacles. After a bath, he will let us swaddle him and lie motionless until we put him down, when he will run around rubbing himself over the couch and rugs. He has the dog equivalent of a sweet tooth and would prefer to eat treats all day, leaving his kibble untouched. He has a habit of sitting and staring at people, and when they try to pet him, he backs up just out of arm’s reach, still staring.
Being officially “my dog,” Yoshi came with me when I moved into Chris’ apartment. The transition was rough. Yoshi was used to more space and being able to go on the porch. Here, there were too many people around so if he was let outside, he would bark constantly. Inside, he could hear every footstep through the hall and would freak out, confused about the fact the whole building was not his territory. These were the only problems until a few weeks into the living situation, where he developed severe separation anxiety. Every time we left, he would scream and scratch on the door. We got a note on our door about the noise. We could hear the neighbors shout, which aggravated Yoshi further. After a few weeks of trying to train him afresh, Chris and I faced the heartbreaking decision of having to give Yoshi away.
I could not accept this. In high school, my family had considered the same option because of Yoshi barking at night, but soon discovered that it just the crate that he hated and if left on the couch, he was quiet. Just having that loom over me at the time had been devastating, and here it was again. I couldn’t bear the thought of losing my puppy. He had been there at my worst and had been a consistent source of fuzzy comfort. He would let me cry into his fur and would lick my face. He didn’t care if I couldn’t go to school or slept all day or watched TV instead of working out. He would just look at me with those cartoon brown eyes and melt my heart.
We had made some calls about shelters and were feeling really, really bummed. Chris, who had never had a dog either and loved Yoshi nearly as much as I did, got quieter and more detached from Yoshi. I could tell Chris was having trouble with it when he wouldn’t lie on the floor and hold Yoshi above his head, gently swaying him back and forth. All seemed lost when Chris’ parents swept into the rescue.
They wanted to take Yoshi to live with them in Indiana. He would have a huge house, a big porch and yard, and two of the most laid-back people I have ever met taking care of him. I could hardly believe it. I looked over at Yoshi who was throwing a sock into the air and thought, “Don’t screw this up, man.” Doped up and set with treats and water, Yoshi and the in-laws embarked on the twelve-hour car trip. Chris and I anxiously awaited the verdict. Would Yoshi destroy everything in the house, including sanity? By only the grace of God, Yoshi stole the hearts of Marsha and Tom. I am sometimes still in shock at how well the arrangement turned out.
The most important thing to me is that Yoshi is happy. The biggest source of grief during the time we thought we would lose him was not knowing who would take him and if they would be able to handle him. Would he be tossed around various homes? Would he even be adopted? What if the family who got him was too strict? It was agonizing. Now, we know that Yoshi is with people who love him. He gets to sit on the porch with Marsha and bark at whatever he wants to, he gets to go upstairs, (something he never got before), he gets long walks, good food, good treats…I see his pictures and he just looks happy. That’s all I ever wanted for him.