Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Tale of a Dog Named Chocolate...

My husband and I had been talking about getting a dog for months. We were planning on getting one last summer but decided not to because we knew we'd be moving out of state just a few months later so my husband could begin law school. We waited patiently for the right time and talked about how excited we were to one day have a little doggie of our own. After spending a few weeks getting settled in North Carolina, our new home, the topic of getting a dog resurfaced. We started researching the local shelters and ended up finding Chocolate, a precious little beagle mix online. We made plans to visit and potentially adopt her the following weekend.

From the first moment we met Chocolate something seemed off. She was sneezing a lot and seemed a little droopy and low energy. But we figured she was probably just shy. We weren't sure about the sneezing but assumed it must have to do with the room we were meeting her in which smelled like it had just been cleaned with some kind of heavy disinfectant solution. We assumed that once we took her home she would be fine and settle in as the newest member of the Charles family!

I have never been a huge dog person. In fact the main reason I wanted to get one was because I knew how much my husband loves them! But as time had gone on between June and September I had definitely grown more comfortable with the idea and looked forward to having a little one to keep me company while my hubby stayed up late studying.

Well, my husband had to leave right when we got home from the shelter because he had to get to an event on campus which left me at home for the first two hours of our new-found dog ownership, alone. We had not made it back in time to buy a leash, a food dish or any other pet necessities so it was just me and Chocolate in the living room getting acquainted. Things went pretty smoothly at first (mostly because she dozed off and I watched TV).

About an hour into our time together, Chocolate woke up abruptly. To this day I still don't know what went wrong but she started running around the apartment frantically making gagging noises and throwing up piles of white foam. To say I was frantic would be an understatement! Let's recap: I am not much of an animal person to begin with but the animals I did have growing up were cats. Furthermore, I tend to be a bit sqeemish when it comes to puke (or any bodily fluids really) so the constant regurgitation of white foam started getting to me pretty fast!

I called a friend who absolutely adores animals and asked what could possibly be going on. She hypothesized that Chocolate was having a panic attack perhaps; that maybe she had experienced trauma at the hands of a female owner and that being alone with me freaked her out. Or, maybe she was just experiencing some kind of stomach issue or sinus infection. The possibilities were endless.

Thankfully the event at school ended early and my heroic husband showed up to save the day. When he got there I bolted across the street to Target to buy a leash and called the shelter on the way to find out what was up! They claimed Chocolate had been fine throughout her week-long stay there and that we should simply keep an eye on her and bring her back the following day for a check-up if things didn't improve. Well... they didn't improve. She continued to make those noises and cough stuff up throughout the night.

Needless to say, I had gone from excited about the prospect of welcoming a new member to the family to utterly disgusted and wanting nothing more than to get rid of it (don't hate me animal lovers!!). Well, that's not entirely true. I wavered a bit and did feel sorry for the poor thing. But ultimately decided that I wasn't ready to be a doggy mamma yet.

My husband faced a reality check as well when Chocolate woke us up the next morning bright and early, ready for a jaunt outdoors. Neither of us are morning people!

I think when we do get another pet one day we will do a better job preparing ourselves not only for the fun times of going on walks (midday!) and playing outdoors but also the more inconvenient and flat out yucky aspects as well. If we had done that from the start we may have expected that illness and early mornings would be some of the unfortunate realities of pet owndership and handled things like the champs we are rather than sprinting in the other direction! The bad news: Poor Chocolate ended up back at the shelter less than 24 hours after she left. The good news: We learned a lot and will definitely be more thoughtful about a decision like this in the future!

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