As I have mentioned before, after moving out and while living on my own, I had often considered getting a dog, but always managed talked myself out of it.
My last rental was through a private landlord who did allow pets. However, the condo association had a strict 30 pound weight-limit and they weighed your dog when you brought the dog home. Plus, they reserved the right to weigh your dog at any time and if your dog was over the limit, your options were 1) get rid of the dog or 2) move out.
Pearl was the last dog I owned while still living with my parents and after I left for college, my mother bonded with Pearl and Pearl became her dog. My parents had always told me I was welcome to take Sophie (ha!) I would have considered it, if I had not been renting. Sophie probably would have been better in a single dog household, but there was no getting around the fact that she was aggressive and over the 65 lb weight-limit allowed by most pet-friendly apartment communities.
Winter is a rough season for me. It was about 2 years into my current job, and I was feeling lonely. I had just broken up with someone I was dating, after my therapist pointed out that maybe the reason I didn’t want to sleep with him was because I wasn’t actually attracted to him, but rather that I craved the companionship. She had a valid point. I reconsidered getting a pet.
Really, if I had just been a cat person, I think that might’ve solved all my issues. Cats do provide the companionship and they are far less work, but my one hang-up on cats was that it is very hard – although not impossible – to train them not to get on the furniture. My one friend who owned cats agreed with me and said, “Yes, to cats, all furniture is various levels of floor.” Growing up in the country where one’s animals might be covered in ticks, mud, or cow manure has made me squeamish to having animals on the furniture. I just don’t like everything being covered in hair. So after personally deciding against a cat, and my mother talking me out of a hamster, I began scouring Petfinder.com again for a dog under 30 lbs.
I was looking for a young adult Sheltie, Eskie, or Kelpie mixes, figuring that these guys were smart and I’d be able to train them more easily. Plus, they were athletic, and likely keep up on a 7-10 mile hike. I got my references in order, found two dogs with potential, emailed a rescue about the weight of a kelpie-mix, and the other got adopted before I had a chance. But I did hear back from the rescue I had emailed: Shasta was 23 lbs. Sweet! They verified my references, I completed a phone interview, and scheduled a visit to Shasta’s foster mum.
I did my research for testing the intelligence of a dog, brought some toys, and met Shasta in the woman’s yard. Shasta wasn’t really interested in the toys, so much as she desperately wanted belly rubs. However, Shasta’s foster mum said that normally she did like toys – I hoped that was really the case, so I said I was interested in adopting her. But then came the bad news for me. “She’s very sweet,” said the foster mum, “and she’s gaining so much weight. She was so malnourished before and she’s doing much better now.” Uh oh. I asked if we knew what she weighed now? The foster mother didn’t know. I explained that I was still interested, but my apartment building had a strict weight-limit and so I really needed to know her final weight before I adopted her. Her foster mum said she’d have one of the rescue volunteers take Shasta to the vet and see.
Well, that didn’t happen. No volunteers to be had. Instead, I wound up taking her home and we amended my adoption contract such that I would be able to bring her back if during the condo association weigh-in she was over the limit. I went to pick her up on a Saturday and her foster mum told me that she had not fed Shasta in over a day so that we’d hopefully pass the weight check. I drove home super nervous and then discovered that the person who does dog weight checks for the association wasn’t going to be in until Monday.
Well, we got a snow storm on Monday. So I had three days with Shasta, and at the end of those, I did find out she was over 30 lbs. She wasn’t over by much, but I didn’t want to starve her and given she was already malnourished, I didn’t actually know how big she was going to grow. I could have kept her, but I would have had to move, which wasn’t doable as I still had 5 months on my lease. I called up the rescue and told them I was very sorry, but she was over 30 lbs and I was going to have to bring her back. I felt terrible. I do sincerely hope Shasta found a better home with an actual yard.
However, I also learned a valuable lesson during those three days. Owning a dog in a high-rise apartment building where I didn’t have a yard and I was only allowed to use one of three elevators was really hard. Plus, Shasta had a tendency to bark when I left – I realize it was separation anxiety, but I also had neighbors on all four sides and given I could hear them vacuuming, I am pretty sure they could hear Shasta bark. I didn’t really know how to solve either of these issues in my current situation, which made me decide that I needed to wait on owning a dog until I had a yard.
And this brings us back to 2017, a little under a year after I bought a townhouse with a yard so I could get a dog.