Happy Second Anniversary to my Dog, Fish.
March 25, 2023 marks two years since I drove my dog Fish (not his real name) away from the Lancaster Animal Shelter. He shook like a leaf as an employee walked/dragged him out of the clink, but as soon as I opened the car door he jumped in without hesitation, like he had been riding in cars his whole life — which at that point was only nine months long. I turned on Simon & Garfunkel and he promptly fell asleep. Dogs love “Scarborough Fair” and “The Sounds of Silence.”
He wasn’t here long before I had the dreaded realization that he was the wrong dog, which I wrote about here. He hated men, tried to throw himself through the window every time someone dared to walk down the street, and hated walks. This freaked me out because at the time I still liked men. And worse, while I originally thought he was going to be my “adventure dog,” now I knew I was going to get fatter and fatter without daily dog walks. Fish’s version of a walk consisted of trembling at the front door and trying to turn back at every step.
Eight months after coming clean that Fish and I were so very wrong for each other, I posted an update: Fish still hated men and had gotten kicked out of daycare (he was in fact framed for a crime he didn’t commit), but had started to love walks. Unfortunately, he lunged and pulled so hard that we swapped places. Now I hated walks. Every time I pulled out the leash I felt dread, while he bounced around with happiness. And every time I didn’t pull out the leash, he sat patiently on the couch, breaking my heart.
Yes, I tried to train him to heel. Didn’t work. It’s not going to work. Eventually I decided to act like a semi-adult and walk him anyway. Now Fish drags me through the hills behind my house, making me walk uphill much faster than I ever would if it were up to me. He still lunges and growls at any other dog who dares to walk by us, or dares to stare out a window. This is embarrassing and sends my anxiety through the roof. But we do it together anyway, day after day.
I know there’s a lesson in this somewhere, I’m just not sure what it is. When Fish goes postal, other dog owners look at me with contempt and I always want to…