I’ve been dreaming of having a dog for years – a canine companion that would play with me, love me, and become a part of my family. When I quit my job a few months ago, I knew the time had come to begin the search for a dog friend to join our family. I started visiting the local shelters a few times a month, and made checking Petfinder and the ‘Pets’ section of craigslist a part of my daily routine.
This past Thursday, Rachel and I made the trek to one of the local shelters, and I immediately fell in love with a little West Highland Terrier – her cute little body and calm personality made her impossible to resist. That evening, I sang her praises to Matt, and we picked out the name Nissa (meaning friendly elf – and she definitely is a friendly little elf!) just in case we were able to adopt her. I took Matt back to the shelter as soon as it opened on Friday, and an hour later Nissa had joined our family!
However, as Friday night turned into Saturday morning, it quickly became obvious to Matt that Nissa was not going to be able to remain a part of our family. She’s terrified of being picked up or held, she couldn’t do stairs, she wasn’t house trained in the slightest, and she seemed completely miserable and sad being in our little apartment, spending most of her waking hours whimpering. Also, living in a second floor carpeted apartment meant the physical issues she was having wouldn’t work with our current living situation.
So, though she had already become my little buddy – following me everywhere, curling up in my (on the floor) sweatshirt, and continuing to lick my hands over and over again – we took her back to the shelter on Sunday afternoon. In barely more than 48 hours this little lady had captured a huge part of my heart; I don’t think I’ve cried as hard in public in a very very long time as I did when they said she was no longer our dog.
It was after we took her back to the shelter that we found out that she’d been part of a horrible puppy mill, spending most of her life in a small cage churning out litter after litter. It was clear to us while we had her that she’d never spent time outside, she’d never played with a toy before, and had no concept of what a leash is for. It makes me sick to my stomach that people can do this to dogs – we could tell Nissa has a sweet personality, but it’s completely buried under years and years of physical and mental mistreatment.
I keep telling myself that I couldn’t possibly provide the kind of care that Nissa needs for the rest of her life – she needs an experienced dog owner that knows how to train and love a dog that’s come from a situation like this. But it still hurts my heart to know that Nissa won’t be in our Christmas card picture this year, and that the dog bed and food bowls and toys that we bought have been relegated to the basement for the foreseeable future.
I hope she finds a loving family that can give her everything she needs very, very soon. And in the mean time, I’ll continue missing my little elf.