I’m a planner. I like to plan things. Spontaneity has never been my strong suit. Change is my nemesis. It took me over a year to decide to start this blog. It took me a lot longer than that to decide to get serious about this whole novel-writing business.
So hopefully you don’t think I’m horrible person when I say that bringing home a new puppy a few weeks ago sent me into a depressive tailspin.
Now you may be thinking: new puppy? How is that anything but a cause for joy and celebration and tail wags?
For most people, it would be. But me and my anxiety brain on this side of crazy town didn’t want anything to do with it.
Well, that’s not true. I thought I did. My boyfriend and I have been talking about getting another dog for a while. And the reasoning seemed sound. Our first dog, Panda, would love a companion. My boyfriend also wanted a furry companion, bigger than our pint-sized Panda. The new dog would be “more his” since Panda is definitely more mine (though I suspect it’s because I feed her more scraps from my dinner than he does). And I was nervous, sure, because when am I not? But we talked about how they would keep each other occupied, that it would be easier in the end, after the initial stretch of training. All sounded good. We looked at dogs every time we had a spare minute.
And then the unthinkable happened.
My boyfriend fell in love with a puppy. A sweet little golden retriever that just wanted to chase after Panda and trip over his own feet and jump clumsily at our faces for puppy kisses. It was love at first sight. For my boyfriend.
Now, I’m not some hardhearted monster. The puppy made me melt, too. He was the sweetest thing. But I could see on my boyfriend’s face that this was the one, and immediately my anxiety brain threw cold water over the warm, fuzzy puppy feelings.
How was I going to juggle writing with a new puppy? Getting up in the middle of the night for many bathroom breaks and cleaning accidents off of the floor and making sure he didn’t chew on anything he wasn’t supposed to and making sure Panda was getting enough attention too…
But I wasn’t going to deny my boyfriend true love, so I swallowed my fears and a crazy pill and we took the little guy home.
And thus began my weeks of breakdown.
You see, this pup wasn’t exactly healthy. He was very underweight and had raging diarrhea (which is super fun) and the tests the vet did came back negative for anything concrete. So we endured two weeks of four different medications and three different diets (one of which was making chicken and rice by hand every day) and I got zero writing done and I think I was losing my sanity a little bit. Grabbing sleep in 2 hour intervals between hosing liquid poop off of the patio and cleaning pee off of the couch will do that.
This was my life now. Forever and ever. I would never write again.
Of course, that’s bullshit. Nothing lasts forever. But anxiety tells me otherwise.
And then, on a Friday night, after four bouts of vomit and more diarrhea than I can remember, for the first time I felt afraid. I had a horrible, stomach-deep fear that this little pup, who I had promised to take care of, was going to die on me.
I didn’t want him to die. I loved him.
He made it through the night, and every night since then, with many more vet visits and yet another new diet.
My body sometimes has a visceral reaction to difficult things, even when they’ll be better for me in the long run. Since that night I’ve wondered if that’s what happened to him, too. Being bounced around at such a young age and shoved full of drugs because people couldn’t be bothered to figure out what was actually wrong, to end up with two people in yet another in a string of strange places. I’d probably be vomiting, too.
As I’m writing this, Gambit is sleeping with his head on my keyboard and I’m awkwardly trying to type around his long snout. He’s clingy and clumsy, not quite healthy yet but getting better. He’s mine.
P.S. My short story, “All My Children,” is now available in Room Magazine! You can order it online or maybe find it at Barnes and Noble.