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What This Blog is About: You Get the Dog You Need

Wendy Toth and June the puppy

Dog people have this saying. They utter it, while looking up at the heavens, after sharing the news of a destroyed couch, night of barking, or pee on a new purse.

“They say, ‘You get the dog you need, not the dog you want.’”

Dog people always add “They say,” to make it very clear that someone else coined the phrase. Only the sentiment is shared. Of course they want their dog. Of course.

Other dog people can be judgmental, you know.

And so it is with June Carter, our little Beagle mix. She has been wanted, loved and worshipped as a small God since she came into our home at 8 weeks of age.

But she is not what I expected.

I have always been anxious. Dogs are the opposite of anxiety.

A few years ago, before I knew the magic of therapy or that an anxiety diagnosis was nothing to be ashamed of, I dreamt of getting a dog. A dog would take me out of my own head.

A dog would lead me into a world of carefree adventure. We would run to the park. We would make a million friends. We would wear tall boots and polo shirts and smile gloriously into our Facebook profile photos.

June, however, is what the experts call “a fearful dog.”

It means she has dog anxiety.

Thus, what I wanted my new puppy to do—the day we brought her home from the shelter eight months ago, 6lbs of warm, tri-colored fur—was not what she did.

Not even close. A few examples.

Expectation: Greet my fiance and I with unbridled enthusiasm.

Reality: Take one look at my fiance and I. Hide behind the furniture.

Expectation: Go for a jaunty walk. Charm neighbors along the way.

Reality: Step outside slowly. Swivel head from side to side for 10 minutes. Take five steps away from the house. Freeze, stiff-legged, at the sound of leaves rustling. Be carried back into safety. Hide behind the furniture.

Expectation: Give puppy kisses.

Reality: Refuse puppy kisses. Be picked up and held out directly in front of my fiance’s face. Stare forlornly without moving. Provoke the comment, “Maybe she’s depressed.” Be placed back on the floor. Hide behind the furniture.

Despite all this, at the very core of my being, I know she is mine. Not only do I often attempt hiding behind the furniture with her, but I’ve been forced to examine that peculiar longing in the process of helping her face the world. We’ve both made a lot of progress, which I’ll chronicle here, as we help each other put on a brave face, every day.

You get the dog you need.

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Mellie #

    Each of my three has already taught me many lessons! They drive me to learn more and to be more patient not only with them and with my son, but with myself. Because I’m a work in progress, too!

    July 30, 2013

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