The Monster, My Friend

Dobby came across my Facebook feed. Big scared eyes, a tiny brown chocolate chi. She was on the euthanasia list. She had a lot of interest, but of everyone she met, none would take her.

How does perfection get passed over? She’s absolutely beautiful. A chocolate purebred chi with the softest fur. My mother wanted to finally get a small dog and Dobby would be hers.

We drove hours to meet her while I was embroiled in some drama with a fake rescue person terrorizing me, while my daughter was in the hospital. Yes, I meant business.

She was scared but sweet at our first meeting. All was well despite the shelter’s volunteers’ nervousness. I believed in the soon-to-be satisfaction of saving a life and creating a happy ending. Or so I thought.

When we picked her up, she growled ferociously, refusing to be let out of the cage. The shelter worker was afraid to handle her.

The screener said, “Wear gloves when trying to handle her for the first few weeks.”

This was why so many passed her by. Her toughness hid the shell of a heart, betrayed by one human too many.

We already adopted her so I would figure it out. Once home, I let her out of the carrier and she promptly hid underneath the bed…all day long. She would come out only at night after everyone was in bed to eat, drink and go potty. If anyone came near her, she bolted back underneath. This was for a couple of weeks.

I was prepared to live disappointedly with a bitey chi underneath my bed. It gives new meaning to the monster under my bed.

My mother, a less experienced dog owner almost got nailed a few times by this chi’s gleaming strong white teeth. The happy ending wasn’t going as planned.

Quite frankly, it was a wreck.

My mother adopted another chi at my suggestion. I stared at the little monster underneath my bed: growling, snarling, and showing me her lovely set of teeth. I sighed and sat back on my bed, unsure of what to do.

One day life hit particularly hard. I had been going through difficult times for a while and I just couldn’t anymore. So I laid there, crying — ugly, violent crying. It was all I could do to force myself to fight another day.

The little monster came out from under the bed and started whimpering at me. I knew the whimper well. She wanted to be picked up.

She licked my tears with those big luminous eyes, and then promptly fell asleep between my arms. At that moment, we found understanding and peace in togetherness.

I wish I could say we were besties from that time forward and everything changed.

She’s still a dog who doesn’t like to be picked up. She’s choosy about when you’re allowed to pet her. She’s grumpy most days.

She’s whiter with fewer teeth — seven years older. She no longer shakes and begs and trembles with fear when going for car rides. She gladly anticipates the adventure. The local road trips and barbecue stops cured that.

And time. Time healed her. Us.

Nowadays, she sleeps — a lot. She’s slept at my feet throughout the entire pandemic. Through all of the good days, the bad days, and now…working days.

She wakes up periodically, smacks her gums, and goes right back to sleep. Sometimes…she gives me a bad case of side-eye when I’m too loud. Other times, she winks in pride. She’s my sixth man 45 minutes a day.

She guards me fiercely when I have to use the bathroom. Standing outside, nothing is getting by her. Thanks to her, I have never been attacked while in such a compromising position.

They say you adopt the pet you need at the time. I don’t know about that. I’ve seen some pretty bad stuff in rescue. And I know she wouldn’t have been the first dog on my wish list.

Beauty doesn’t excuse difficulty.

But she’s my daily reminder that we can be disappointed by one human too many and still have the strength to go on. That we can be grumpy, have bad days, and still be someone’s strength.

That bad experiences can be overcome.

She wasn’t the dog I wanted, she was the one I needed.

My friend, the former monster, happily sleeps beside my bed – thanks for giving me a chance.

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