I knew I loved this cream puff of a dog minutes after I met her. It took her a few more minutes of growling and barking for her to come to a similar conclusion about me.
I didn’t feel quite ready for it, but I adopted that dog with my boyfriend eight days ago. We unearthed this 70-pound Great Pyrenees mix, age 2-3 years old, through the Great Pyrenees Rescue of Western North Carolina, about an hour from Uptown Charlotte.
She got spayed, we brought her home (bleary eyed and high on painkillers), and we named her Maisie. Our seven days of the “you can totally bring her back, no questions asked” trial period have passed. Today is the eighth day.
Here’s what I’ve learned from her in those 8 days:
(1) There may never be a ‘right’ time for a life change.
We’re young, we work long days, we have side hustles, we like to spend time with friends, I can’t survive without yoga. But there may never be a “right” time to adopt a dog. We will always be busy, our jam-packed schedules will always be changing, we will always encounter stressful moments and days. If we keep putting off happiness that seems inconvenient right now, will we ever take a risk and let it in?
(2) If you don’t like a situation, break free.
At the vet’s recommendation, we bought the fluff ball a $25, soft E-collar to keep her from licking the stitches on her stomach while we were gone. I beamed with joy as I smoothed her ears against it, knowing she’d be grateful that I didn’t make her wear that stiff, terrible plastic cone she first came home in.
By the time I got home from a work event, she had torn the thing off with her paws and flung it into the space between the window and the couch. Sweet freedom.
(3) Loving someone does not require that you understand someone.
I was answering some emails at my kitchen table one afternoon when I looked up and saw Maisie passed out in a heap on the second-floor landing. Total weirdo. I adore her.
(4) Your version of fun doesn’t have to fit the mold.
As wide-eyed, eager new puppy parents, we bought Maisie a stuffed moose to love, cherish, and gnaw on, like normal dogs. Mostly, she just gives me skeptical looks when I push it into her face and try to get her to pounce on it.
(5) Shit happens.
Like, on the carpet. Easily confused with grass, we get it. Just remind yourself there’s always a way to clean up the mess (thank you, Rug Doctor).
(6) Waterless shampoo is the greatest creation of mankind.
Even cute dogs don’t necessarily smell like cupcakes when you rescue them. We can’t bathe her while she recovers from surgery, so I snagged a bottle of waterless shampoo from the retail section of Long Animal Hospital and massaged it into her coat. Now she smells like a giant coconut.
(7) You have to trust that the people who love you are on your side.
Maisie does this even when her new dad is pushing three painkillers through her pried-open jaws.
(8) When you’re really in love, you’ll know it.
Looking back, I knew Maisie would be mine to keep on Day 2. I gave up my own flu shot appointment to take her to the vet because she hadn’t relieved herself in 36 hours, and we were encouraged to bring her in. I worked from home that afternoon, anxiously keeping one eye on her while she drooled on the couch. At the vet’s suggestion, I even dismissed my five years of vegetarianism, and boiled chicken and white rice just so she would eat something.
I loved her while she violently snarfed up her bland dish. I loved her when my boyfriend texted me that night to say, she did it! She shit on the carpet! I loved her when she tried to vault up onto the bed, then gave in and went to her spot on the couch instead.
Adjustment takes time, but love doesn’t have to. Just let it in.
Photos: Rémy Thurston, Katie Toussaint