Due to all of the successes that Cheryl’s been having, there was some discussion about whether she should have a little bit more responsibility. She was already proving herself more than capable with the things she was doing around the apartment.
For the longest time, she has wanted a dog. It wasn’t something that I was totally against but I’d be lying if I said I was completely on board. The reality was simple: getting Cheryl a dog meant getting ME a dog and I already have enough on my hands to deal with.
BUT, I didn’t want to be the asshole that said no, so I told her I’d think about it. In the mean time, we’d see how she’d do with a dog by “borrowing” the neighbor’s dogs from time to time.
Cheryl and I started walking them periodically. They have two, a big dog and a small one. The small one is just enough for Cheryl to handle on her own. I have to admit, she did pretty good. Even bent over a coupe of times to pick up the poop herself although I had to put the bag on her hand.
Regardless, it was a VAST improvement and I could see how happy she was being out with the dogs. It was even at the point where she would wake up asking me if we could walk the dogs that day.
It genuinely made me feel good to watch her do things that made her happy. She’s a major animal lover so as far as I was concerned, any type of dog or any animal, would be a total “therapy” pet. Something she could play with, take care of and cuddle with.
All good things that made me get slightly more on board.
Ally wasn’t necessarily opposed either, but she didn’t feel the timing was right. I understood, but at the end of the day, was the timing EVER going to be right? Cheryl kept pushing for a dog, so in order to delay what was looking like the inevitable, Ally proposed to Cheryl that she had to use her device for two weeks straight.
More determined than ever… Cheryl never missed a day. For two weeks, she wore that device for as long as she could. She’d wake up, have her coffee and bagel, then ask to go for a walk and put on her device.
Never go to an animal shelter with 2 women and an 8 year old…
I so got railroaded.
The two weeks were up and we were going to go check out the animal shelters in the area. There were certain dogs breeds that I was strictly against. No ankle biters, no yappers and no ugly ass, mangy long hairs. Whatever dog we got was going to have to basically be a cat dog. Quiet. Lays around all day. Doesn’t bark. You know, the usual.
The plan was simple, we’d go to the shelters and I would be able to figure out a) what was out there (other than pit bulls and bulldogs) and b) what kind of dog I’d want to have around because, let’s face it, Cheryl didn’t really care… as long as it was a dog.
Unfortunately, all of the shelters we had chosen were closed on the Monday we had chosen to go. Our neighbor and her daughter were going to go with us. As luck would have it, the neighbor found a shelter that was actually open.
So off we went, making it perfectly clear that we would not be getting a dog.
We walked around the Alcatraz of animal shelters. Every dog who leapt up and yapped at us, felt like they were saying, “fucking get me outta here!”
Their yapping mixed with the squeals of a child and the “oohs” and aahs” of two adult women. I quickly walked off on my own, namely they had to stop and gush over EVERY dog where I was more in the “rule them out with a glance” kinda mode.
That should have been it. but of course it wasn’t. Next up was “having an interaction.” Little did I know how tough THAT would be.
The system is broken…
If you’ve never been to a shelter, let me set the stage. There are rows and rows of dogs in cages, all with “inmate bios” on their doors. These bios have a picture, an “inmate number,” their name, a brief history and their age.
Once you find the dog you’re interested in, you write down their number and go up to the main office, give them the number and then they bring the dog out into a bigger prison cell so you can “interact with them.”
Now, I tell you this because if you’re ever planning to go through this horrific experience, this is shit that you need to know. For ME to find out, I had to go tae a number and stand in line. Only to finally get called and have them tell me that I needed the number.
But guess what? Ya don’t get to just run and grab it. Once you get the number, you have to fucking take another number and stand back in line.
My own Hell…
For those of you that don’t know me, let me explain something to you. I don’t believe in Hell in the form that it’s usually presented. I don’t believe in fire and brimstone. I beleive we’re given our own individual Hells, catered to showcase our major fucking pet peeves.
MY hell, would be me… standing in line… forever. And everyone in front of me is paying with a check or digging for exact change. Or they never have the right information. And, once I finally get to the front of the line, I’m told that I’m in the WRONG line.
So yeah…I’m legitimately fucking annoyed by having to stand in line multiple times and it didn’t end there.
We go back, the neighbor finds a dog that Cheryl liked, gets the number, goes back, TAKES a number, waits like 20 minutes only to go back up to the counter and be told that the dog she chose was already adopted.
So we go back. Find a second dog and this time it’s my turn. Now, you’re probably thinking, “why not write down ALL the numbers, then go up there?” Yes, totally get that. The problem was, this shelter was mainly full of big dogs and little yappers. Neither which suited our needs. We were cherry picking here. Looking for the diamond in the rough. There wasn’t a lot to choose from.
Manny plays hardball with a used car salesman…
No joke, 3 hours and 3 tries later, we were down to the last two dogs that were possibilities. Every dog had been adopted up to this point. After fucking waiting in line again! I get up there and give them the first number which belonged to the ONLY dog that I actually liked. His name was Buddy and I had seen him the night before on the website.
So I gave her the second number which belonged to a dog that I was less than ho-hum about. He fell under the category of “yeah, I mean, I guess, if we have to.”
Being completely frustrated and pissed off at this point, I threw up my hands and yelled quite loudly, “Fuck it, we’re going home.” I turned and walked away. I was less than five steps away when the woman behind the counter said, “hang on! Did you say the first one’s name was Buddy?”
“Oh, hang on.” She taps away at her keyboard, then goes “Yeah, sorry that adoption was cancelled. He’s available.”
Oh really? Are you fucking kidding me lady? Did you just give me the “I can’t give you a better deal or else my manager will kill me… okay wait, wait, don’t go, let me see what I can do” thing?
Either that or she doesn’t know how to use a computer or how to do her job. Honestly, it’s a toss-up between the two if not both.
So we go back and get “Buddy” out of his cell. Let me tell you why I liked this dog. He was in a cage with like 5 other dogs, all his size (he’s 12 pounds) and every other dog in the cage was acting like they just smoked a big bag of crack and drank a shit ton of Mountain Dew. Then, in the middle of the puppy chaos, there was “Buddy,” just chillin’.
Cat dog. Yes please.
The four of us wait in the “visitor’s room” for the shelter worker to bring him out. Out of all four of us, he runs right up to Cheryl and sits between her legs. All calm like, in a protective stance.
Fuck. Now I gotta get this dog, right? This is not what I signed up for.
But can we afford him? Most of the shelters charge a shit ton of money in “fees” to make sure every dog is up to “code.” As luck would have it, because “Buddy” was already adopted, the people had already paid most of those non-refundable fees. It just so happens, that for whatever reason they couldn’t take him. Which meant, we basically got him at a discount.
Fuck. Now I gotta get this dog, right?
We go back up to the office and the window is OUT the fucking door. They were on 50-something and the number I took was on the high 70’s.
I was pissed.
Luckily the neighbor went up to the woman we had been dealing with and asked if we could cut line because Cheryl was close to passing out. It wasn’t a total lie, but definitely pretty close to playing the “stroke card.” After nearly 4 hours in this sad fucking hell hole, I didn’t give two shits what we had to do to get out of there.
While we waited, I called Ally on FaceTime. She was NOT happy. I had promised her that I was not going to come home with a dog. Oops. It was my bad. I was shitty on the communication front and I honestly didn’t think she’d be as upset as she was. In her defense, she was blindsided and it didn’t help that Cheryl, the neighbor and her daughter were all on the call gushing.
She would eventually get over it and fall in love with the little pup, but it was dicey for a couple of days.
Anyway…long story even longer, we left with a dog.
“Buddy” becomes “Van Gogh…”
I actually liked the name Buddy. Unfortunately, the neighbor’s dog was named Buddy and while that wasn’t a major factor, Cheryl wanted to make the dog her own. Because he was only six months old, we felt like we could get away with a name change.
But what were we going to call him?
Cheryl refused to decide on a name until she spent time with the dog and the dog revealed his name to her. Her words.
The first night Buddy was extremely protective of Cheryl. He barely ever left her side, sometimes lying across her lap. He could sense she was “broken” and would only lick her left arm and her head. Weird, but dogs DO sense stuff.
Buddy also didn’t make a sound. To the point where we didn’t even know if he barked. (That was proven wrong less than 48 hours later). What he DID do was perk his droopy ears up when he heard something of concern. Because Cheryl is deaf she wanted to call him Ears because he would, literally be her ears. When he heard something, she could see it and react accordingly.
Only problem was that there was no way I was going to have a dog named fucking Ears.
That led to Ally. Her artist daughter. Can you connect the dots here at this point? Ears? Famous artist? Yeah, Van Gogh.
By the way, I totally get the irony, trust me… but you try to explain that to someone with a brain injury.
Van Gogh it was. All hail Van Gogh.
Manny gets a dog…
Look, Cheryl does her best, but lets face facts… I was always going to be the one to take care of the dog. Cheryl wasn’t going to get up at seven in the morning and take the dog out herself. She wasn’t going to discipline him. She wasn’t going to walk him at night.
At least not at first.
Luckily, there have only been a few times that I’ve found myself in the perfect storm of the dog being annoying and Cheryl needing help. But man, when those times hit, it’s a perfect storm.
But hey, that’s like 10-30 minutes out of a 24 hour day. If I can’t handle that, than what the fuck am I doing here? The good news is that the spark in Cheryl’s eyes is now seemingly permanent.
For that, it’s all worth it.