Monday, September 22, 2014

Adopting Pets is About THEM Not YOU - Don't Give Up!

I have to keep reminding myself of this:  stop being selfish! Stop focusing on my own feelings and focus instead on Apple's well-being.  This is what being a good parent is about.

I had a breakdown of sorts over the weekend.


The situation is this:  I have put my life on hold for the past 4 months so that Apple can adapt.  This is my life right now -
  • I now work from home. If I have to go to meetings or to the office for a few hours, I put Apple in a doggy day-care at a facility with people and dogs she loves (she was boarded there by Karma Rescue before being adopted by me).  
  • I've spent literally thousands of dollars addressing her low immune system.  Because she was bred too early by an evil backyard breeder and because of her trauma in her life before me, her anxiety level is high and her immune system is extremely low.  This manifests primarily in a nasty skin situation which appears at the drop of a hat for no apparent reason, like this:

  • Her low immune system has meant thousands in medical visits and in supplements per our holistic vet.  Did I mention it's cost thousands so far with a cure still far away?? I had definitely not anticipated these costs when I considered adoption...but unexpected medical expenses are a reality of having pets. This is the stash of [natural] supplements she takes at every meal, twice a day, in order to build her immune system and to treat her skin:
At every single meal, twice a day.
Things like:  Australian Emu Oil and Siberian Chaga.

These supplements cost around $600 a month.  Mine cost $100 maybe.   
  • It also means she's on a diet of special raw food which I have to buy fresh every 3-4 days. 
  • It also means I have to carry all 55 pounds of her into the bathtub and wash her feet with baby shampoo every time we go for a walk because of all the contaminants in grass which irritate her skin.  I also wash her lady parts each time she goes as well...I have to!  She's on my bed constantly!!
  • I have had basically no social life since I got her.  I can't leave her alone at my place and the doggy daycare facility closes at 7 p.m. so I have not gone out in the evening for the past 4 months.  I am not even kidding you on this one.  Has this meant a huge dent in my professional and social lives?  Of course it has.   
  • My life revolves around her schedule.  This is her walking schedule:  as soon as we get up, she gets a 15-minute walk to relieve herself; mid-morning, she gets a long walk or we go to the dogpark or dogbeach where she can socialize for at least half and hour (she gets lonely just her and I...that's another problem in and of itself); mid-afternoon she gets another long walk or a long activity that stimulates her mentally such as a session at the ZoomRoom doing agility activities; early evening she gets a long powerwalk for about an hour that mixes a looong walk with socializing such as at the park; late evening, she gets one more 15-minute walk to relieve herself for the night.  I got a FitBit to measure how much we walk together - we walk between 4-5 miles a day. And I make sure to rotate where we go for our walks so she doesn't get bored. 
  • Apple is sensitive and needs lots of reassurance so every day for at least 10-15 minutes, I make it a point to hold her and talk to her with lots of optimism and love and exuberance.  This is in addition to the million kisses I plant on her all day every day and the endless positive affirmations I praise her with!  
  • I try not to express anger or anxiety or frustration when I am around her, even when I'm talking on the phone to other people.  This has meant I have cut out certain people in my life who elicit these feelings in me. 
  • We are moving to a house from my apartment so that she can have a yard and room to run around.  
And all this I have happily done because when you *truly love* animals or children or whatever else it is, you realize that it's about THEM, not about how YOU FEEL or the inconvenience YOU experience.  Selfish people *say* they love animals and will make a big show of petting them, kissing  them and getting all self-righteous about it - but when push comes to shove and the pet creates an inconvenience for them, they dump the animal or kid right back.  That's not true love.  That's selfishness.  Who doesn't love the way a cute dog or kitten makes *you* feel?? But that's all about YOU.  That's not someone who loves animals.  True love is sticking it through thick and thin.

I'm on a tirade about this because I keep witnessing people who adopt dogs claiming they love animals but as soon as they create an inconvenience for them, they bring them back...I despise such selfish and delusional people, they have no idea how much damage they have caused...don't do that and call yourself an animal lover!! What's even worse is the poor excuses they make: oh, I have to travel a lot for work, oh, the animal is better off somewhere else...reality is that the animal is better off anywhere but the shelter.  9,000 animals DIE every single day in the shelters! They are never walked or taken out of their tiny cages.  Don't give me "better off"!

Single People! Don't ever date or marry someone who dumps their pet!  It is a huge character flaw. They will do the same thing in the relationship or in the future with your kiddos! They will self-indulgently want a relationship or to have babies and once the fantasy wears off and it gets hard - as it will - they will be completely useless.  


So I have gone through this routine for the past months...until it was made abundantly clear to me this past weekend that it still was not enough for my baby girl.  Maybe for other dogs it might be, but not for her.

After a long walk, we came back to my place and I was trying to get some work done.  She was lying down by herself on one of her many dogbeds and seemed...incredibly depressed, wouldn't play with her toys, nibble on her treats.  And her skin erupted again - see the photos above - necessitating yet another trip to the vet's and treatment.

Animals do get depressed, especially dogs and cats:

What is the best solution?  Another animal for comfort and socialization that I cannot provide for her, no matter how much time and resources I devote.  This is the solution I have found through research and also per my vet - he's treated a lot of animals in his career, and he has found the best cure for anxious and depressed pets is another pet.  

This realization frustrated me incredibly at wasn't good enough that I had devoted my whole life to her.  Despite my resolve to not show negative emotions around Apple, I cried off-and-on for a few days.  I had been doing *all this* and it was still not enough for my girl.  All this love.  And she needed more.  

I had to remind myself that it was not about how *I* was feeling...that's the deal I made when I first adopted her.  Yes she was cute, yes cuddling her made me feel good, but at the end of the day, it wasn't about me, it was about her.  But I keep thinking about how much hard work it is to have ONE dog, let alone TWO.  Hard work and expensive.  Can I afford it?  Can I do it?  It's exhausting to even think about it.  

Anyway, that's where we are right now.  

Here is a video I took of Apple at dogbeach this weekend.  When I see her like this, it  makes all the pain and turmoil worthwhile...look how happy she is!  

Some more cute pics...isn't she a doll?
She sits like a human.  Hysterical.  

A lot of people mistake her for a pitbull puppy, and she does look awfully puppy-ish, right?  Babyface! She is an American Staffordshire, and they are a lot smaller than pitbull terriers. 
She is fancy and likes to sleep under Steinways.  Haha!
She likes it when I play Chopin Ballades & Etudes; 
she doesn't like Bach or Rachmaninoff or Scriabin.  Go figure. 
Anyway, if you have recently adopted a dog...give it 6 months to a year for you to feel things are "right."  Be compassionate to your dog, he or she has been through a lot, don't have too many expectations of it yet in terms of training and obedience and even devotion.  Apple is sometimes still stand-offish to me no matter how much affection and love I give her.  But again, focus on the animal's well-being instead of your own feelings.  You will be rewarded down the line with an unbreakable love and gratitude.  

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