Sunday, April 3, 2016

Girl Meets Dog: A Reluctant Love Story


The boxes weren’t even unpacked before it began: “When can we get a dog?”

This question wasn’t from a child unaware of the responsibilities and commitment a pet requires, but from my husband, who grew up with a pug and had been itching to have another pup in his life. Now with the purchase of our first home, complete with a fully fenced-in backyard and across the street from a large park, his time had come. Or so he thought.

The barking, the shedding, the walks in variable New England weather – I couldn’t imagine it. I grew up with a few birds, two hamsters and a hermit crab; apartment living in urban New Jersey didn’t lend itself to pets much larger. While my sister and parents have since each adopted a Chihuahua, I didn’t know – or care to see – the benefits of having your own dog. I saw dogs as I do children: cute and fun, but I’m happy to enjoy someone else’s. My new, clean house wasn’t missing anything. Or so I thought.

I was able to hold off until the following spring, until the Facebook page of a shelter (Odie’s Place Animal Rescue) featured a Yorkie in need of a home. If there was one breed of dog I could see in our house, she was it. My husband was thrilled I had taken an interest in getting a dog, and I think he was shocked I took the initiative to fill out the required questionnaire. Before I knew it, we had a home visit scheduled.

While Odie’s Place would be happy to place a dog with us, the Yorkie wasn’t the right fit. Plus, my husband had envisioned a larger dog to take on runs and hikes, and I could see he was growing hesitant of a tiny, potentially yappy breed. Not to worry, said Odie’s Place. A rescue from Thailand was “perfection” for us. Would we be interested in meeting a Border Collie/Shepherd/Husky mix? I wasn’t too keen on a long-haired, non-hypoallergenic dog, but the train had left the station. Yes, we’ll meet her and commit to a home trial.
Tessie enjoying her morning walk

 On March 5, 2016, my future love pranced into my living room. Her foster parents dropped her off, filling us in on her back story: around 3 years of age, she was on the streets of Thailand until she was hit by car in November 2015 when she was taken in by a local Thai shelter that provided rehab, including water therapy, until she was back up and running. The couple volunteered for Soi Dog, a not-for-profit that helps the homeless, neglected and abused dogs and cats of Thailand, and it also works to end the dog meat trade throughout the region. They each flew back to the U.S. with five dogs, with all 10 dogs already committed to a home. To our luck, the family who was interested in our future love fell through, so they reached out to Odie’s Place to help them find the right home for her.
Tables give dogs extra space in crowded Thai shelters,
which could explain Tessie's love of hopping up on our picnic table. 
She was sweet and mild-mannered from the very beginning. She seldom barks and barely sheds. She is the reason I wake up and finally take the daily morning walks I promised myself. We knew she was meant to be ours the same day she walked into our lives. We re-named her Tessie and haven’t looked back. She truly is perfection.

I shudder to think about how I almost let my fears and ill-conceived notions of dogs get in the way of having Tessie here with us. I know now why people love their dogs, talk to them and treat them as their baby – all things that used to make me roll my eyes. But now I’m one of them, one of you, I should say. Tessie has me wrapped around her paw, and I couldn’t be happier.

 Maria Poulos Pimentel is a New Jersey transplant now settled in New England.   Maria works in marketing and publicity by day and snuggles with her sweet collie/shepherd/husky Tessie by night. She was a reluctant dog owner at first, but she's quickly learning the ropes and discovering all the joys of doggie parenting. Maria will be sharing more of her adventures in dog love with PawsGo.