The year 2021 involved a lot of loss. I lost my blissful ignorance when it came to my health, which I took for granted. I lost my connection with some “friends” who “meant well” but ultimately only kept tabs on me for their own self-serving reasons. I lost a relationship with a person who I thought I’d be with long after the health crisis. There were a lot of tears. There was a lot of grief. There were plenty of appointments with my therapist.
I thought that once I’d been technically “back to normal” (i.e. no longer needing any sort of active medical treatment), everything will fall back into place. But when the disease disturbed my routine and my life, it also disrupted my beliefs. What I prioritized, what I believed in, what I felt was more important for me. A lot of it used to be fairly superficial—money, career, financial “success”—and my attachment to intangible but important parts of my life slowly faded into the background. In my pursuit of independence, I focused on this checklist I had for myself that boiled down to two major points: move out and make more money. Anything that steered away from the two goals, I regarded as a failure on my part.
But by the end of 2021, I found myself moving back in with my parents and making significantly less money than my peers.
After my last relationship fell apart, I knew I didn’t want to go through the dating pool again, at least not anytime soon. I’ve heard stories from friends about how terrible the dating scene is, and I don’t want to subject myself—still raw and broken—to all the garbage in the ocean, in hopes of finding the right kind of fish.
I tried doing what everyone else is recommended to do to “find yourself”. But one significant moment was in a car ride with my sister, when I realized I can finally go after what I want again. Including getting any type of pet, whether it’s a certain breed or a rescue—two things I couldn’t really go after because of my former partner’s reservations about “small dogs” or rescue dogs. I’m still convinced he just didn’t want the extra baggage of having a dog with me, but that doesn’t matter anymore.
Initially, I started reaching out to some breeders of Pembroke Welsh Corgis that I found on a quick Google search. A decent amount of them said no, with reasons ranging from having no planned litters for the foreseeable future to saying I may not be the right fit for a corgi as a first-time dog owner. All fair points.
There was another (very likely) backyard breeder who was charging $3000 for a corgi puppy, who was super eager but refused to give me information about the puppy’s parents that set off some alarm bells. As much as I wanted to have one, it wasn’t worth it.
So instead of Tinder, I found myself on Petfinder.
I went through multiple dog profiles, reading the little blurbs written about them and seeing who would potentially fit the life I currently have. There was an adorable corgi-shepherd mix with the perkiest ears. There was the cutest black dog with a sweet smile. There was a majestic retriever with expressive eyes. I applied for them all and just hoped at least one of them was meant for me. It was annoying that I had to fill forms with each rescue group, even provide some references with one as if it was a job application, but I figured it was worth a shot. Worst case, they reject me, and I’ve been rejected countless times before.
A few days later, one of the rescues connected with me, and a week later, I was at the airport, waiting to pick up my dog. He was abandoned at a kill shelter as a puppy by his first owners, then he was taken in by a kind soul who fostered him for a few months until the rescue group found him. Not much is really known about him, other than him being easily spooked by loud noises and having been left behind at such a young age.
The first few days were rough, and I had considered rehoming my dear little puppy. I had some time to reconsider after all. His puppy energy mixed in with his teenage attitude exhausted me and drove me nuts. It felt like I was in over my head.
But one morning, after only three hours of sleep, before our walk and while everyone else was still sleeping, this sleepy little nutter walked to me and laid his head on my lap, and I knew he’s my dog. On days I’m feeling a little low, he (in his own little way) urges me to play chase with him in the yard, and he would nip at me if I don’t.
He’s still a little shit sometimes, and he’s learning some undesired behaviours here and there that I have to correct, but he’s taught me as much as I’ve been teaching him too.
Even something as simple as living in the moment, given how he could be a bit easily distracted. He could also be picky with which rewards as he has his own hierarchy of treats, and it changes depending on the situation. Despite how he values some things can change, there are still a few specific items that remain at the top of his list.
Sometimes I do think he’s training me instead of the other way around. But what’s so bad about learning from your dog?