Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Worst Dog Owner in the World

Owning a dog always seems like such a great idea.  Especially for those of us who are isolated out in the middle of no where, aliens in a community that can barely understand us.  It's the whole idea of having someone around to love and be loved by.  All this was running through my head about 4 months ago when a friend mentioned that her neighbor's dog had just had puppies.  I jumped at the chance to claim one of them, thinking that if I was going to get a dog, now would be the time to do it.

When I was younger, my family had two dogs.  I remember it being a mostly positive experience.  Neither of them really ever learned how to heel, they barked a lot, and our house got robbed while we were out walking them once, but in general I remember learning to be more responsible and when I think back on it, I enjoyed the experience.

Enter Cobie.  This cute, big-eared dog that was graciously brought to me by my friend.  The first day, it was kind of fun having her nip at my heels and climb all over me.  I built her a dog house out of bamboo and tried to get her adjusted to living on my porch.

Obviously, I didn't put enough thought into what owning a dog means.  Dogs need to be fed, they need attention... As my sister so correctly stated, having a dog is like having a baby.  Anyone who knows me well knows that I am not what you might call "cuddly" and I don't necessarily have the warmest personality...  This whole thing was destined to fail.

Needless to say I was not prepared to handle all the whining and constant need to for attention.  She had effectively trapped me in my own house during the evenings.  I was afraid to go outside, and that I would wake her up and it would start the process all over again.  I couldn't leave without her following me everywhere, so going to town to buy food was going to be a challenge...

If I was planning on taking her back to the US, or if it was my first year of service, I think I would have kept her.  The reality of it all is, I have nine more months of service, and one month of that is vacation days that I have saved up for this year.  I have committed to running this half-marathon in Rio, so I need to start training. Plus I just have general work in my demo-plots and garden, meetings to run, and the possibility of a pig in the near future (NOT a pet!  I'm going to kill it and eat it!).

So! Things I've learned from this experience:
1.  I'm definitely not a pet person.  When I was living in Ann Arbor, I seriously thought about getting a dog.  That's never going to happen now.
2.  I'm more focused on work.  This experience has clarified what I want to do for my final year in service, and has made it a reality that I don't have a lot of time left.
3.  I tend to be a bit selfish with my time.... but honestly a person who doesn't want to make time for pets shouldn't have pets, so I don't feel so bad about it.

To close out the story, I ended up giving the dog to a family in my community.  In one of the most awkward and abrupt conversations I've ever had, and just like that (8 days) I'm back to being dog-less.  Two girls from my book club showed up at my house while I was working in my demo plot and saw the dog.

"Is this your dog?  She's pretty." 
"Yeah, she's very energetic."
"I want her."
"What?"
"Do you want her?  Because I want her."
"OK.  I guess that's possible.  What do you want to name her?"
"I don't know."
"When do you want her?  Tomorrow?"
"No, I have to go to the fields tomorrow."
"Now?"
"Yes."
"...Ok?"
And just like that, she picked her up and carried her away.  

So thus concludes the very short-lived pet-owning experience.  Never again, haha.  I've made myself a promise that I will never again own an animal that I do not intend to kill and roast over a fire at a party.