It’s been a hell of a year, or 14 months at this stage. I spent the first six months of the pandemic working almost every night in two different hospitals, and the second six months repressing emotions related to what I experienced during the first half. During that time, I started to work less and to fill my time more, I threw myself into school, clubs, running, and friendships. However, I still felt isolated living alone. Add in a series of unfortunate events, and the pandemic blues finally got me.
If you know anything about me, it’s that I am a very positive person. But for a while there, I felt that I had lost that part of myself. Fortunately, I did not lose my drive to flip a negative experience into a learning opportunity or a step towards change and self-improvement. I registered for a marathon, started researching a nonprofit to fundraise for (more on that to come), found a therapist…and bought a dog.
I’ve wanted an Italian greyhound for a while now. Well, that’s not exactly true. Originally, I wanted a greyhound. I thought they were so elegant and, as a runner, I could appreciate their speed. To the dismay of my family and friends, whenever I talked about my hypothetical greyhound, she was always called Lady Grey. I should probably state something important. I did not like dogs at the time. Hence why everyone would roll their eyes when the Lady Grey was brought into conversation. Then I heard of whippets and became enthralled, “A smaller version of a greyhound? Yes, please!” Lady Grey was going to be a whippet, and that was it. Until I found the world of “iggys” (nickname for Italian greyhound) on Instagram. If you have not ever seen an iggy account, please stop reading this and look here or here or here immediately.
In the beginning of April, I decided to bite the bullet and really look into it. I figured that when I saw her, I would “know.” A few days later, on Easter Sunday, I was perusing PuppyFinder (I kid you not, it’s a real website), and there she was. Named Grace at birth, she was eight weeks old and three pounds. roughly the size of a NYC rat. The rest happened so fast. I sent an email inquiring about her, and the breeder responded within the hour. If I committed, she could be driven via a dog-transportation van from Arkansas to NYC the following Saturday with her sister, who was being delivered to a family in New Jersey. A quick email response and PayPal transaction later, the wheels were in motion. Having a puppy delivered to my apartment door is one of the bougiest things I have ever done (in my opinion). I soon learned I was completely and hopelessly unprepared for puppy life.
Little Lady Grey is the cutest and most snuggly creature you will ever meet. But she is also a monster at times. She absolutely hates being alone. The poor little thing needs to be next to (or on) a human or another dog at all times. Put her in a crate? Forget about it. She has this rare talent for being able to defecate and fling it at the walls from the inside of her crate. And for a nonvocal dog, she will let the neighborhood know if she’s left alone for even five minutes. Is she an emotional support dog? Absolutely not. I feel like I am her emotional support human. Add in my hectic work schedule in a hospital, and I did not know what to do. My family already told me that they were not willing to help. The panic set in. Then my wonderful friends stepped up.
For the past month, Lady Grey and I have become nomads. We have stayed at five different friends’ apartments for a total of 21 nights. The few days we have been home have involved either friends coming to spend the day with her while I go to work, or a Rover dog sitter coming (a lockbox is God’s gift to every dog owner). My days off are still spent meeting friends and going out, except now there’s a cute little sidekick in my bag. I take all my classes virtually with her on my lap, because she insists that is the only place she will sit. And, ironically, for such an active owner, she is the most sedentary dog. She hates walks. It’s almost comical to watch her being dragged as I praise her. Praise her for what? I don’t know, because she’s not doing the work, but that’s what the books say. I’m not going to go into potty training, because I bet you can imagine how it’s going.
Needless to say, it’s been an insane month. But you know what? It has been so much fun. When, as adults, can you sleepover at all your friends’ homes on a regular basis or make them come to yours? Finding bars and restaurants that accept dogs is such a fun way to discover new places. Sneaking a pup in your bag into the ones that don’t is always comical when her head inevitably pops out. Watching her play, learn, and grow has been so rewarding. The day she learned how to jump on the couch by herself, I felt like she had graduated college and the day she went with almost no accidents inside, I felt as if she had discovered the SARS-CoV2 vaccine. She is so affectionate and after crate sleep training failed (on night one), she has spent every night asleep in my arms with her head resting on my neck. It’s like having a real-life stuffed animal. Despite her limited potty training, she never goes on furniture or people. She loves dogs of all sizes and is obsessed with people, especially children. Fortunately, my friends are infatuated with her. While the fact that she typically needs to wear clothes to stay warm can be annoying (you try getting her dressed at 5am for a walk before work), it is so much fun to dress her up.
I’m enjoying this period and laughing off the inconveniences because I know it won’t last forever. She won’t always be this small and wild with her puppy tendencies, which is both sad and also positive. We are going to take human and puppy training classes this summer. She continues to be crated for a few hours a day, to her (and everyone’s neighbors’) dismay. We’re working on the difficulties. But the love I feel for this little being is so insane. I find myself worrying about her during the workday, as if she is my child. I light up when friends or the dog sitter send me updates with photos. I rush out of work every day to see her. I’m sad when I wake up in the morning and have to end the snuggle sesh. I know. I don’t know who I am anymore either.
This summer is going to be filled with adventures and mishaps, and I cannot wait. It will be interesting (terrifying) to see how she minds flying, but we are going to do it all and go everywhere. I am hopeful that by time in-person classes are a thing again this fall, she will have settled down. Otherwise, you will see her in my bag in KMC (Kidding! Or am I?). In the meantime, catch us for a doggy playdate. We will be in a park or outdoor bar near you. Oh, and follow her on Instagram.
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