I recently wrote a post where I wondered if I would be able to handle having a dog.
I grew up in a house where my dad hated pets, so we never had one. He thought they were dirty and annoying. So I grew up thinking the same thing. I didn’t like when dogs got near me.
But I’ve softened over the past few years, and started to think that I might enjoy the companionship, the fun, and the emotional bond.
Well, my husband and I got a foster dog recently and I’ve had my first experience ever taking care of an animal.
I’ve been experiencing things that most people have probably known for a long time. It’s like when some long lost jungle tribe is discovered that doesn’t have communication with the outside world, then they show these people things like cell phones and indoor plumbing and zippers and the tribespeople are just blown away. That’s me with this dog. I’m blown away by basic dog ownership stuff.
I feel so much empathy towards this animal. When we brought her home, she wouldn’t sit or lie down. She barked and freaked out all night long. She just stood next to me all the time.
When I told other people this, they said it was normal. She just needed to get used to things.
She’d been surrendered from her owner, then spent a night with another foster before coming to us. She was probably so scared and confused! Can you imagine?
Anytime I left the room and closed a door between us, she barked like crazy. Then when I came back, she was almost bursting with excitement (or relief?).
I felt for this little girl. Her needs are basic. Food, water, shelter, and interaction (i.e., love). But these little creatures have to depend completely on *us* for their needs. That’s so scary! I would have anxiety all day if I wasn’t sure I was getting food and water when I needed it, and if I was worried that my caretaker was going to leave me forever any time they left the room.
Then when I chastise her a little (get off the couch!) or I accidentally do something that “offends” her, I can sense she feels a bit betrayed. I’m supposed to be her friend, her protector–why am I being mean?
It also warms my heart to see her getting used to things. She just walks herself downstairs to access the food or water at will. She’s learning not to whine when I leave the room. She’s finally sleeping in her little bed.
(I’m not trying to say I’m special for having these feelings–this isn’t about “high” sensitivity, really–Having empathy for animals is pretty common. But it’s new to me.)
I also had no idea that having a dog was so much fun! When she runs around in a frenzy or does silly stuff, I have a huge grin on my face. Watching her tool around the dog park is great.
The thing that melts my heart the most is this picture here. When she curls up in her little bed and falls asleep, I look at her and think of how helpless she is. All she really wants is love and attention. THE FEELS.
Further reading: This author talks about how having a dog helps her depression.