Pupdate #1: A Little Help From Cesar Millan

Winston - Eating Many people have responded to my last post How Not to Adopt a Dog with a lot of reassurance, support and optimism. Thanks so much! It means the world to me. I also found out someone started a Twitter account and is posting as Winston. The posts are hilarious. And no, it's not me.

Last night, I began watching the Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan. I took Winston's food and water off the floor by 8 p.m. and we went for a walk and a poop around midnight. Then, I got a great amount of sleep. Thankfully. He has already learned not to come into the back hallway where the bedrooms are. The flooring back there is old-school hardwood and if he pees on them, the ammonia in the urine could ruin the finish and damage the wood. He was well-behaved and stayed in the kitchen and living room area of the apartment, even with the hallway door open and slept well. He woke me at 9 a.m. for a walk and pee. After the walk, we came back home, I fed him, gave him some water and went back to bed. I'm usually up quite late and wake up in the late morning. I slept until 1 p.m.

Today, we had a long, full day. Winston and I went for a walk from about 1:30–4 p.m. I had to go to the bank and took him with me on the errand. On the way back, I ran into my friend Ryan. He and I ordered a pizza, came back to my place, ate and then went to rehearsal for the team that he's on and I coach, Shiva Star. We left at 6:15 p.m. I got home at 10:30 p.m. The kitchen garbage bin that is currently stocked with urine soaked paper towels was all over the floor. I was picking up the same urine twice. The contents of my kitchen table were on the floor, except for my laptop, which thankfully, was barely clinging to the edge of the table.

It may sound like I'm bickering -- it sure reads that way when I look back over what I've written -- but the long walk was taxing and he is exhausting and exasperating. My body is still adjusting to the weight loss and my back was killing me. This is a lot of work. I don't think I was being unrealistic when I decided to adopt a dog. I did believe I was ready. However, I do not think the reality of dog adoption is in line with the public perception of dog adoption. I think the perception of adopting a dog is layered with too much optimism.

In the end, I would love to keep Winston and have him around and have everything be sunshine and open meadows to run around in. Realistically, though, this doesn't feel like the right timing for me. I'm having trouble bonding with Winston because when I look at him, my stress and anxiety levels shoot through the roof. I'm not willing to give up on myself or Winston just yet, so I got a copy of Cesar Millan's Mastering Leadership series.

The support and reassurance I have received after my last post is amazing -- I love you all! -- but I do have a few takeaways:

People might have similar experience with your mental state, but they are not you and they do not have your dog. Optimism and hope are wonderful things -- and many people think I'm optimistic to a fault -- but the reality is this: everyone's experience is different and if you chose to adopt a dog, yours will be different from everyone else that you know and from mine. A friend told me this afternoon the first dog his family adopted lasted two days in the house before his family had to re-home him. The second dog has been with him for the last 15 years. So, every experience is different. Just be prepared for it to be much more work than you expect.

Yes, Winston and I are super adorable together, but just because we look great in a photo doesn't mean it's the right thing for both of us. The important issue is that any pet you adopt -- cat, dog, bird, muskrat -- has to be right for both of you. As I'm writing this post, I am rapt with guilt. I know I am providing a better environment for Winston than he was in, but I don't think he's getting the level of attention that needs or deserves.

Status: Still unsure about whether to keep him or find him a new home.

Additional Resources

The Dog Whisperer, Season 1 DVDHow to Raise the Perfect Dog

Mastering Leadership