Zoo Keeper’s class for the last three years has written persuasive letters. Zoo Keeper’s are always to me and always ask for the same thing: a dog. Until this year, I’ve had solidarity with BamBam, who was afraid of dogs. He started kindergarten this year, though, and has adopted his brother’s persuasive letter subject.
Now BamBam says he’s ready, leaving me as the sole hold out.
Which is crazy, as I’m this family’s original dog lover.
But that also means I’m the only one who knows all that having a dog entails. What it means to raise a dog. And what it means to lose one.
I have lots of reasons for waiting. Most have to do with time and freedom from constant needy companions. In this one area, I’ve been willing to put my needs first.
But last week, for reasons likely related to the death of my best friend, I decided it was time.
I told the boys it will be soon, but not now. Then I went on Petfinder and found two awesome dogs. I applied for both, but only heard back on one.
Daisy is supposedly part husky and part shih-tze. I drove two hours to see her on Friday night, planning to bring the boys back to meet her on Saturday and, if that, went well, bring her home with us.
I wasn’t at all convinced the meeting with the boys would go well because I think BamBam is still skittish about dogs, but I never dreamed I would be the problem.
Daisy was perfect for our family. Potty-trained; friendly; playful, but not hyper; outgoing. She even rolled over so I could pet her tummy.
She has a flea allergy, but we could control that with meds. She likes to run and is a bit of a flight risk, but so is BamBam.
As I pet her, I could feel the oils from her skin on my hands. Not what I’d expected. I rubbed my fingers together, thinking it wasn’t as bad as what I get with Labradors, so maybe it would be okay. I held that hope until I got out to the car and found that I couldn’t bring myself to touch the steering wheel.
I tried using a wet wipe. It didn’t make much difference, but I was able to grip the steering wheel enough to drive. I drove around the darkened town until I found an open fast food restaurant. I went straight to the bathroom to wash my hands. Of course, they had the nasty-smelling soap. So gross, but at least it got the oil residue off.
I got some food and sat thinking while I ate. This dog seemed so perfect, but could I live with needing to immediately wash my hands every time I touched her to keep my skin from crawling?
And would one of the boys have the same problem? What if they fell in love with this dog and we had to say no?
I was still debating when I got home and told Sparky how perfect she was save this one thing. He said, “Then she’s not perfect.”
So I sent an email to the foster mom letting her know we wouldn’t be there the next day.
That night, I hovered between sadness and relief, but now I’ve come down firmly on the relief side.
I posted about it on facebook. One friend said she was allergic to the oil on her dog’s skin, but she just bathed him every week and it was fine.
Before I knew anything about autism, I probably would have brought Daisy home with me and done just that. I would have suffered in silence because this dog was perfect in every other way. I would have assumed there was something wrong with me and kept quiet about it so no one would notice that I’m not normal in this way.
One of the perks of accepting I’m autistic is knowing I’m not obligated to pass for normal. I can love Labradors and husky/shih-tze mixes without making one part of our family.
And I can do that without explaining myself, though I’m sure I will whenever I talk about it because that’s part of who I am, too.
And I can keep looking for the right dog for our family. For all of us, which includes me and the dog. Without suffering, silent or not, for any of us.