Laura and I were starting our summer with a week vacationing on the beaches of North Carolina. We spent the days lying in the sun and the nights sleeping to the sound of the waves. On the fourth night, as we were getting ready for bed, Laura’s cell phone rang. She answered, and I saw her relaxed smile wilt as she listened. After a moment, she said a brief “thank you” and hung up, turning to look at me. “That was the alarm company. Someone broke into our house.”

We hadn’t even arrived at home yet when we began to discuss getting a dog. Though nothing was stolen, we felt violated. The alarm had scared the burglar off, but we wanted more than just a noise to protect our home. Laura and I had talked about getting a dog before, but had decided against it. However, after the break-in, a dog didn’t seem like a bad idea.

I really wanted a dog. Having grown up with one, I thought it would be the perfect addition to our family. Laura, having never owned a dog, was less sure, but like anyone else, had a hard time resisting the cute faces of rescue puppies I had found on the Internet.

I couldn’t fully articulate this at the time, but I saw a new puppy as a means of gaining control of my life. The last year had involved my graduation, marriage, four moves, buying a house, a new career for Laura and a first adult job for me. So much was changing, and I felt like I was being left behind. A dog, I thought, would at least be something I understood, and that understood me. With a dog, I could at least feel like I knew what I was doing.

Two weeks after the break-in, we brought Luna home. A mutt we had found online, Luna was small and black with a tan brindled front. I thought she was perfect. We brought her home and I played on the floor with her, showed her to her crate, and brought out new chew toys. I couldn’t believe how much energy she had, and I couldn’t believe how much I already loved her.

I poured the next seven weeks of my life into Luna. Every moment not spent sleeping or working was dedicated to training her. In that time we expected Luna to grow a lot, but she stayed relatively small. It was as though she refused to grow up. While we were able to teach her basic commands, we quickly noticed how difficult it was to wear her out. Every morning, Luna’s potent energy would flare up as soon as her crate door opened. She would run all over the house, chasing our cats, jumping on our new furniture, and biting at our hands, ankles, and, when she could reach them, our faces. Her bizarre energy coupled itself with a lack of focus and control that made her almost dangerous to be around.

photo-11Our neighborhood, full of children, was like a giant playground for Luna. No matter where I walked her, there always seemed to be some group of small, excited children tearing after us, asking to pet the dog. These moments were far too exciting for Luna. She would rear up, nipping at the children’s hands, making them squeal and jump around. This excited Luna even more. By the time I had dragged her away, Luna was worked up and I was embarrassed and grumpy. Despite incidents like these, Luna never grew tired. She never slept outside her crate. She was far too energetic and stimulated to sit still for more than a moment.

On top of our difficulties with Luna, our marriage had also taken a turn for the worse. I spent every hour of the day with Luna, walking her, entertaining her, and training her. Her strong personality made it difficult for Laura to be around her for very long. Thus, Laura and I began spending less time together. Every morning I woke before her, and every night we fell straight asleep, exhausted by the tension of the day.

Eventually I began hiding from Luna. Some days, instead of sitting with her at home, I would go get lunch at McDonald’s and sit in my car in the parking lot, quietly eating. I sat and I ate and I thought about Luna. I wanted her to behave. I wanted everyone to get along. She clearly wanted to please me, but she didn’t know how to control herself, and I didn’t know how to help her. It was in that parking lot that I realized we had to give Luna away. It was depressing. I had pictured a dog as an escape. Luna became just another aspect of my life I couldn’t control.

It took less than a week to find Luna a good home. She was going to live with an acquaintance and his wife in Traverse City, and we were meeting them that weekend. We arrived at the designated meeting place, an old Mobil station in Cadillac. I walked Luna around in the grass a bit before they arrived. She spent most of the time biting my ankles.

The white SUV pulled up ten minutes later, and they got out, a young man, his wife, and their large, black dog. After checking Luna out, they agreed to take her. They handed Laura the money, and we put Luna’s food, toys, and crate in their trunk. I bent down and held Luna one last time. She licked my chin.

As we pulled out onto the road I turned to look back. There was the white SUV driving away. I couldn’t see her. Luna was gone.

Strangely, things have been fine since Luna left. Life has moved on. Laura and I are closer than we have ever been. My work has improved. We are fixing up our house. Maybe I’m growing up after all.

1 Comment

  1. Geneva Langeland

    A sweet, wonderful reminder that sometimes the best things in life happen when we relinquish our need for control. Maybe you and Laura can try dog-ownership again someday–with an older dog =)


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