About 24 hours ago, I lamented about a distinct yellow stain on my otherwise plush, beige carpeting. I put the dog in time-out for the mishap and he hung his head low as I blasted him with, “Little Dude!” or, “Seriously?” or something I regret now, “just wait until you go to your new home!”
….Monkey didn’t last a night at another home.
We recently adopted a puppy off craigslist. This was one, magical, furry, mutt that looked like he was in dire need of love, a haircut and a few extra pounds; (not necessarily in that order.) We adopted the dog from a woman named Jen who claimed he was simply being “rehomed” (the term now nauseates me,) because his owner did something heinous and went to jail. We inherited a puppy, two watering bowls and a blanket of toys and drove with him home. He took to us immediately. I brought him over to my parents and I watched the disapproval on their faces; 3 jobs, and trying to navigate school, parenthood and life wasn’t enough. It’s not like I was dating. He would be my partner in crime. Named for his ability to climb snowbanks in a single bound, he was an adventurer, a cuddle bug and a helluva good pillow.
The first couple days were wonderful. He would sit next to me and the warmth of his 13lb puppy body would nestle against my leg as I met deadlines or typed tweets. The dark, soulful eyes would look up as I tried to teach him to sit and heel and how to properly dance with me. Puppies, are terrible at waltzing. I fell in love with the dog that no one seemed to be able to properly care for. I’d like to think he cared about the woman that was alright being alone, as long as his little puppy feet were touching mine.
Day three, it started. It wasn’t so much the broken vase or the destroyed door: It was the looming fear that the dog would ruin the house and I would have to help find him a new home. A fear I consulted friends about, and a behavioral specialist for dogs. It was separation anxiety, and the first-degree kind. They said it would take a year or more to rehabilitate him. They thought there was abuse or neglect in his past. I decided then- that short of burning the place down I would keep him. Then he tore down the blinds and ate through the cords. When you ask me why I didn’t crate him, I’ll tell you: In another room, with a closed door, I received 3 warnings in one day. He cried/moaned and barked for hours straight. When I came home? All he wanted was to be held and that? I could do.
He destroyed the cabinets, had accidents all over Ava’s things and finally, late at night in the middle of the week I looked at him and said, “You deserve better than us, little poop.” We had an understanding then: Some of us, are harder to love than others. He understood me- and I understood him. Two beings in the world seemingly incapable of making a relationship work. I sat with him and honed out a complete list of what this dog deserved.
- A family that was home all day.
- A golden water bowl.
- Puppy Friends; a posse of hardcore cuteness.
- Someone that wouldn’t take away his masculinity by dressing him in clothing unless it was stamped, “Super Dog.”
- A lap he never had to leave.
- A mother that never had to go to work.
- Another four year old that snuck him puppy treats and kisses.
I suppose that’s it because the harder he tried to destroy the house, (stuffing out of my mattress, the legs of the tables, the computer power cord,) the harder I tried to figure out a way to keep him. Then Robin Ngyen emailed me after countless frustrated tweets and messages, “I’d love to giveit a try.” I use her name for a reason, and you’ll understand why. Robin Ngyen. Robin Nguyen- Robin-Freaking Nguyen.
She was a former trainer, a rescue organizer and a home-daycare-provider. She knew about severe separation anxiety, she had other dogs and a fenced yard and she had a self-proclaimed ‘knack’ for helping the dogs that everyone else had given up on. She had a 16 year old that would certainly sneak him treats. She claimed someone was always home and that she was ‘SO EXCITED’ to take him on.
She agreed to take him last night, and as Ava cried all the way to her house, (not for giving up the dog but instead, because her 103 fever and double ear infection was really the icing on the “If anything else goes wrong I’m buying a lottery ticket” cake.) I proceeded to take the dog out of the car until he puked- everywhere. Did you know dogs actually get carsick? The more you know. His piece-d’resistance; a final tribute to my inability to give him what he needed. I laughed, then I cried and I brought him in her house.
Looking back, I might have seen the warning signs: Carrying a small Yorkie, (about 2lbs,) around in her shirt, not really acting excited to see him- it all makes sense now as it didn’t then. Hindsight is 20/20. She smiled at him and pet him- while I wouldn’t let him out of my arms. I showed her how he sat and how I taught him to dance, and lay down, (after 4 tries.) I mentioned that he was so smart- over a week he had learned all this. He let me hold him like a baby and take treats out of his mouth. I kissed him on his wet, little, nose. I walked to my car and he whimpered outside as she tried to get him to potty. “Goodbye, Little Dude!” I was feeling good- and Ava was feeling sick and went to Target Clinic.
We walked in the house at about 8:15 and I received a call from Robin: she left Monkey alone for a while, with none of her other animals caged up. They were all together and she never socialized him, or separated him out- and he was scared and frightened. I didn’t get the details. Perhaps he didn’t know his own puppy strength, or perhaps the yorkie growled- but Monkey scratched or bit the teeny yorkie and Robin lied to the Humane Society to which she brought him. She said, “I’m not his owner! I don’t know him.” Her lie, caused the humane society to put him down in fear he had rabies. If she only had asked, his rabies certificate had been forwarded to me and laid in her inbox waiting. One lie, and one irresponsible move- cost Monkey his life. She could have dropped him at the shelter and explained. They would have held him until morning. I had called four, different rescues. We had two lined up. Monkey came to Robin with a collar and a ridiculously expensive dog tag with his name and my phone number on it. No one bothered to call me. I couldn’t figure out why until much later. Robin took his collar off, so she wouldn’t have to be responsible. She kept all his food, toys- and collar and I was told that the humane society received the idea he was homeless.
I received the call this afternoon, from Jonathan- a local rescuer who I called late last night, (with about 4 other calls,) trying to save him. His words were spoken softly and with care, “He’s been put down, sweetheart.” I didn’t cry at work. There’s no time to cry at work when you receive that call about 20 minutes before you teach a class of job seekers, (notably the most passionate and best class I’ve taught thus far.) I was numb- but determined to spread his story. I emailed Robin and demanded she apologize for her stupidity. I asked how her puppy was doing. Mostly, I just cried.
I know I’ll have to stop looking at his picture because the apologies that extend from my mouth coined with the tears have actually worn through a pair of contacts, consumed a bottle of wine and are currently laying with me on the floor while I type this. Damn, this stain.
There he was- a lost, mutt with no one that really to give him commitment and love- and there I was, another parent in a string of failed dog-owners- his second, (though the rescue says there was certainly more before me.) I have over a thousand dollars of repairs to start in our condo, but no motivation to work on it. I found a remnant of a half-chewed bone and held it in my palm for a short while. The house is quiet, there is a yellow stain on the floor and it’ll remind me daily of how our choices play out in the real world and one puppy, who given the promised love and responsibility in Robin’s home wouldn’t have had to end up in a pile of discarded of animals that were carelessly lied about, and destroyed.
What hurts the most is that he was never hyper, or over-zealous. He was quiet and humble and happiest when he was simply allowed to be at your side. Those moments were ones that made the damage okay, and the frustrations disappear. My mother said, “I’ve never seen you try so hard.” It was true, for some reason the fact that this dog needed more because he was given less resonated with me. I wanted to prove him wrong, and I failed miserably.
To Robin Nguyen who owns a ‘rescue’ and home-daycare in Golden Valley? 6 hours of trying to find the right words still have me at a loss. Not only did you put the very dog you promised to protect in a situation of helplessness? You lied to get another animal killed- one that was loved and cared for more than you could know. I could have dropped him off at the humane society at any time. Did I spend nights interviewing and emailing people to do that? Why did you take back all the hard work I did just to be lazy and absolutely disrespectful? You even took his collar off, and kept all his things. I asked you at least to give the things to the humane society too so they could use them. How does that make you look, you vicious, evil, witch? All he wanted was to lay next to you. You- who emailed me twice that you were home, “all day and couldn’t wait to love him!” You- that “have worked with rescues!” You disgust me.
The stain will remain- and it should. Monkey has made an impact on my heart and the rest of the world with his story. Those things that can not be erased? Mean something. I’m determined to give him credit and love- even from worlds away.
I am receiving emails from out of state now. Please keep passing it on.