It was spring of 2018. I had just released my debut EP and life was finally slowing down after 6 months of a grueling schedule. I found myself accomplished, but still missing something. I sat in my studio apartment on a Sunday morning, in a solemn mood, thinking of how to seize the day. I decided to walk to Piedmont park and pray while walking. Looking for guidance, I felt I heard an inner voice tell me to get a dog.
I had been wanting a dog for a while, but didn’t feel that I was ready. I always said it was too much like having a child and too much responsibility. Let alone, my landlord wasn’t keen on having animals in his property. But that’s what I felt I heard.
When I got back from my walk, I took to Twitter for casual entertainment. Within the first 3 minutes, I started seeing posts of people with their dogs. I looked to the left to discover that #NationalRescueDogDay was trending. “Wow”, I thought and took it as a sure sign.
I started looking up local pet shelters and found that the Fulton County Animal Shelter has a Weekend Warriors program where you can get a dog for a weekend to allow them a break from the shelter life. I thought it was the perfect opportunity to see if I was really ready for a dog. I asked my landlord about the possibility of pet sitting and he agreed as long as it wasn’t a long term thing.
I finally went for a visit and got to meet a Jack Russel Terrier named Connor. One of the staff told me he was a bit sick and I could tell by his lack of energy. Still, I loved the colors on his face. I inquired about the Weekend Warriors program and found out that I would have to sign up for a future weekend.
A few days later, my car went out of commission and I wasn’t able to return to the pet shelter for another 2 weeks. When I finally returned, I immediately went looking for Connor. He was the perfect size and I was looking for an adult, male dog that didn’t shed. I searched all throughout the shelter and didn’t see him. Finally, I asked one of the staff about him and they informed me that he had been adopted.
I was a little bummed that I missed my chance, but was glad he found a forever home. I perused through the shelter again to find my second best option. All of the dogs looked so sweet. There were a lot of pit bulls. As I finished my walk around, I came across a petite brown dog. She looked me square in the eye as I walked past her crate. She was so cute, but easy to miss. I decided to give her a try. The staff took her out into the play area so that we could get acquainted.
She was full of energy and life. She played with me and some of the toys they had placed outside. One of the staff members joined me to show me how the dog likes to jump on people’s laps. They named her Mimi.
Unfortunately, she hadn’t had her shots or been spayed and neutered so she could not go with me just yet. I decided to come back the next day after her surgery to pick her up for the weekend with the understanding that I would have to be responsible for administering her medicine (insert nervous face emoji).
The next day, I went to go pick up Mimi. She had lower energy than the day before just as expected. I had never had a dog in my adult life, let alone a sick one. I wasn’t sure how things were going to pan out, but it was only for a weekend and the staff gave me their information in case I needed to contact them. They said the time away from the shelter could be good for her recovery.
She immediately sat down in the car. When we got home, she immediately hopped on the couch to lie on my lap. I couldn’t resist. It was the sweetest moment. I could tell she was very appreciative of the quiet and serenity my tiny apartment offered. We spent the next few days relaxing mostly. Her energy picked up by the days. As I took her for her walks, the neighbors were immediately drawn to the unique features on her face which made it even easier to tell them that she was available for adoption.
By the time Monday rolled around, I knew I wasn’t ready to give Mimi back so I called the shelter and asked if I could keep her until the following weekend. One week turned into three. Between that time, she got very ill with an upper respiratory infection (contracted from the shelter) and I had to take her to the ER to get treated. Because I was still fostering at the time, the shelter took her back in their care after she was released. I immediately went to get her again as soon as I could.
After that incident, it was clear to me that I wanted her around, but I had to consider all of the factors: my tolerance for keeping an animal long term, financial responsibilities, and my landlord’s pet policy. I thought it over and drew up the numbers. I wanted to do this. The biggest obstacle then became my landlord.
He already said a long term situation was out of the question. I had grown attached to Mimi and trying to keep her out of sight was getting pretty difficult lol. After rehearsing my pitch several times, I finally decided to ask again if he would be open to me having a pet full time. This time he said yes. I was overjoyed!!!
I went back to the shelter and officially adopted Mimi on June 29th. On my way home, I picked up a celebratory cookie bone and we shared a special moment together. I could say that’s the end of a beautiful story, but honestly, that is where the story begins.
I’ll spare you every detail of all of my moments with Mimi (including the millions of photos I have of her) and share how since that time, she has unexpectedly changed my life:
1. Taught me patience and forgiveness
Within the first month of adopting Mimi, she had thrown up all over my car (which took me 2 hours to clean by hand), urinated a countless number of times on the floor (yay for finally nailing down house training!), eaten a piece of cheesecake (which required an expensive Vet visit), and skillfully chewed random things in my house.
2. Made me less materialistic
Before I got her a crate, the house was up for grabs and boy did she grab. Including my $50 pair of ear phones and of course, my house shoes or any shoe she could get her paws on. It’s been a reminder to hold on loosely to material possessions.
3. Given me community
This was the most unexpected benefit. I have met so many of my neighbors just by walking Mimi and have even set up play dates for her with their dogs. I’ve gone to dog-centered events and discovered new businesses. Our frequent visits to the dog park give me the social time I need for myself and I’ve discovered how much of my family members are dog-lovers from the special moments she’s created.
4. Helped me to learn the value of consistency
Mimi eats at the same time every day. She falls asleep at nearly the same time every day. We go on walks almost at the same time every day. She clings to consistency. I consider consistency to be one of the weaker areas of my life. It’s shown me that I can actually be consistent when I have enough of a reason (read: passion) and accountability.
5. Shown me what type of parent I’ll be
As long as I’ve considered the possibility of having children, I’ve also been concerned about the type of parent I will be. How will I think of a baby name? Will I be too lenient? Too strict? Will I pass on any undercover traumas?
Because Mimi’s life and well-being are solely my responsibility, it’s as close as I can get to having a child without actually having one. She has helped me to enforce healthy boundaries. She’s helped me to learn how to guide in love. She’s also brought out a new level of selflessness (just ask PetSmart).
6. Is a constant source of happiness
I literally have so much contentment just being at home, petting or playing with Mimi. When I come home, she never fails to greet me in the most excited way. When I’ve had really rough days, she’s comforted me and even wiped my tears. She is always giving me a chuckle from the silly things she does and she starts every day with a smile which causes me to do the same.
When I have to discipline her or have accidentally stepped on her tail, she has never held it against me. Even when I accidentally made her sit in a pile of ants while trying to get a photo, she loved me just the same. She is truly an unconditional loving gift…that has changed my life.