Recently a dog came to visit us, a potential adoptee. We were nervous before doggy arrived. We spruced up the house and my husband mowed the lawn. We brushed our hair and teeth minutes before the arrival. We wore nice clothing and had doggy toys on hand we’d picked up at a pet store earlier that day. We had been told that “if all went well” with the visit, then doggy might be ours that very afternoon. We were excited—and I was a little nervous. The last potential adoptee tried to nip my son and slam me down on a coffee table and chew off my shoulder. This latest dog, however, was listed as “kid and cat friendly”, and as looking for its “forever home”.
We really want a doggy. Sometimes we visit Lab Rescue Man’s home down the street from us. He might have up to 6 waggy doggies playing in his yard at one time. T is in heaven when this happens. He runs with the pack and throws balls for them. He pets them and kisses them, if they’ll let him. He’ll give them commands—sit, doggy drop ball, etc.
We are nice people. Responsible adults run this household and raise a child. We are all animal lovers. So of course we were excited to meet the doggy, even if we turned out not to be doggy’s “forever home”. As long as doggy didn’t try to eat us, we could at least give her some fun in the Ponderosa’s roomy yard, give her a chew-toy to take back to her foster home, have an afternoon of play.
“THIS DOG IS NOT FOR YOU,” declared a Cruella-De-Vil with an unraveling eagle’s nest of auburn hair, her Mute Dude trailing after her. She hadn’t even made it to our walkway, but was shouting at us from way over there on the pavement. I stood dumbly on our front porch, my hand frozen in greeting, my mouth agape, my son behind me crying, eagerly, “Doggy! Doggy’s here!”
“I–um,” I stuttered as the wiggly black lab on the choke chain and leash yanked the woman closer.
“THIS DOG IS NOT FOR YOU,” she repeated. “THIS IS TOO MUCH DOG. THIS IS TOO MUCH DOG FOR YOU.”
I stared at her, baffled, as my husband took over. He greeted the dog generously, then Mrs. Freakazoid and her Mute Dude. By this time, doggy had reached me and I bent to give her some love, my husband trying to calm Mrs. F with pleasantries. I knew he was as baffled as I was. Mrs. F had insisted, initially, that we meet the dog, had insisted that doggy was perfect for us, had already met my husband and son at an adoption fair she was running, had decided that the happy black lab licking my hands might be our “forever dog”. So—WTF?
“Well, why don’t you WALK her,” Mrs. Freakazoid said all suddenly sickly sweet and nice in a bi-polar, schizophrenic moment. “Just go ahead and WALK her.”
She thrust the leash in my hands and I obeyed, walking doggy along the sidewalk for about ten paces, during which doggy lunged, bounded and tested her choke chain. She was only a year old. She had tons of energy and no training. She was going to need some help, okay—but I couldn’t figure out why Mrs. F was sure doggy wasn’t for us.
Then, in his cute little voice, my son asked to hold the leash. Before I could answer, Mrs. Freakazoid jumped in.
“NO! NO! NO! YOU CAN NEVER, EVER HOLD THE DOG’S LEASH! NO! NO! DO YOU HEAR ME? NO!”
My son was aghast. Who was this super scary lady? What had he done wrong? I saw these questions race through his mind. I watched his lower lip tremble. He turned and fled to my husband behind us (poor S desperately trying to lure conversation from Mute Dude).
Here’s what should have happened next: I should have handed Mrs. Freakazoid the leash and told her: Thank you for bringing this lovely puppy to visit us. I’m afraid we won’t be using your adoption agency. I’m sure you’ll find doggy the right home. Goodbye now.
Because how could it get better after that, after a total stranger yelled at my son, a wonderful little boy excited to see a dog. Mrs. Freakazoid didn’t wait for my response to my son’s question. She didn’t wait to hear me say, “Doggy is very excited right now, baby. Mama will hold the leash.” She didn’t watch and learn how I will introduce my son to a dog in our lives. She just jumped in, gnashing, rabid, threw us all to the ground and tried to chew our shoulders off.
Instead of getting rid of the crazy lady, I said, “Why don’t we bring the dog into our yard, since you need to do a yard check anyway.” Sigh. Hindsight is one of my unfortunate talents (see holiday-cookie-recipe posts for other unfortunate talents). I guess at that point I was still thinking there might be hope, or I was being foolishly polite, or I was probably thinking that we “needed” this lady in order to find our family dog—but I have learned that I am the sort of person who must shut the door on crazy people, or bad things will happen, to myself, usually, but also, in this case, to my CHILD. Hello! I will never not trust my gut instincts again.
In the Ponderosa’s back yard, doggy and my son ran around the lawn beautifully, gleefully, having fun. For a moment, I felt vindicated—Mrs. Freakazoid was as mute as her companion while T and doggy romped—but when T tried to show doggy one of his large colorful plastic toys, one that made doggy a little nervous, Mrs. Freakazoid’s switch flipped again. She frothed at the mouth and shook her head, her hair pouffing so much it scared birds from the trees, her bi-polar/schizo-lunatic thing in full swing and after that she pretty much got out of our lives with the dog—forever: When my husband returned home from work the next day, his big news was that Mrs. Freakazoid had dumped us from the rescue’s list of possible doggy owners. She told my husband that until our son was 10, we would not be getting a dog from her rescue, that we were not a family fit for a dog at this time, that my son would hurt the dog.
My first reaction was to phone Mrs. Freakazoid and scream at her, but that would have made me as crazy and Freakazoid-ish as herself. My husband had dealt with her by calmly, graciously telling her that he disagreed with her assessment, that we were moving on to a new doggy rescue because yes we will have a family dog before our son is 10. “Let’s leave it at that, PB,” he suggested. I knew he was right, but it took me a day of teeth-grinding and one stern email to Mrs. Freakazoid—that I deleted—before I could move on. And I remembered something Mrs. F had said before leaving our house with Mute Dude. My husband had commented that she must really love dogs to be so involved with them, and she had answered (in a rare moment of quiet tonage), “Oh, well, I don’t LOVE dogs, I like them, but somebody’s got to do this, I guess, I mean, I’m not a dog FANATIC, not at all.” ??? I hope she is helping doggies, absolutely—but Mrs. F needs people-skills lessons and to spend time with toddlers and I need to never let anyone I don’t know talk to my child like that again without addressing it immediately, bottom line.
So when the home-check person from a different rescue came to visit us today, I was ready. If she showed any bi-polar tendencies, if she showed even a hint of displeasure toward my son, I would have her OUT OF MY HOUSE. You know. In a gracious sort of manner, but–out. Out.
The lady who visited us, however, was lovely, just lovely, an obvious dog lover/enthusiast, totally supportive of us, sure that she can find us a family dog. She told us how beautiful our son is, how perfect our yard is for a dog, praised us for wanting to help a doggy in need. She made no promises, but offered her help. An hour after she’d left, she sent us an email saying she enjoyed meeting us and hoped she would have some dogs for us to meet soon.
“Oooookay,” I said and breathed—no, I breeeeeeeeeeeeeathed. “Okay.”
PB WRITES (PB’s Writing Blog)