Missing My Puppy

Don’t get me wrong, being a teacher and getting a long break during the summer is great. Being a teacher in an international setting, it is a necessity of life. It is a time for us to recharge our batteries, and travel back to our home countries so we can see our families. I really enjoy this time off for these reasons, but it is not always as easy as it seems. There are a couple of drawbacks. We spend a couple of months every year living out of a suitcase, and leaving behind the lives we have built in those faraway places. Sometimes, there are others that we have left behind that we really start to miss as we continue on our long trips. It is about the time that we are supposed to be getting back to those lives that those people we left behind start to be thought about a lot. In my case, it is my puppy that I miss the most, and can’t wait to see again soon.

We got Zoey in late January of this year, and she is a little bit of a handful. She was a rescue dog who got picked up off the side of the road in Amman when she was tiny. We met her a few months later when they believed that she was about a year old. She was playful and knew how to use that to her advantage. We instantly fell in love with her, and a week later, she was living in our home. Even though she looked like a full grown dog, what we did not know at the time was she had a lot of puppy still in her. She still had a lot of energy that took some time to work out of her, and when we had to go to work, she would have separation anxiety. It caused some moments that made living with her difficult, but that is what it means to have to train a puppy to come to an agreement where we can all be happy with each other.

Zoey had a bunch of stinker moments as well. She knows that she shouldn’t be on the bed, but every morning when she believes that it is time to get up, she will hop on the bed, and try to cuddle with us. It is adorable, but at that same time, I know that I cannot let it continue; otherwise, she will start to think that she can do it whenever she wants. It forces me to get up and get her needs taken care of, even if I have another hour of sleep that I can get that morning.

She is also a little destructive. We are constantly looking for new toys for her that she won’t be able to destroy, and when she does not get her way, she will rip up her blankets, or bed. We even had an incident with a couch, and will have to buy a new one when we move out of our house. This has made Zoey a more expensive dog than we intended.

So, why am I excited to get back to her if she is such a stinker? Despite all of her drawbacks that we have with her, she is still has a charm that draws you to her. We get to go on long walks with her where her infinite curiosity allows me to explore the neighborhood I live in, and her desire to be friends with everybody has introduced me to new people in our neighborhood. We do go out in our backyard from time to time, and I will kick a soccer ball around that she loves to chase after and carry in her mouth, and if she isn’t into that at the time, she still loves to play her own version of keep away in our yard.

Zoey also will calm down eventually, and when she does, she turns into the cuddliest of canines. She will lay down on me while I am watching television, and give me a kiss from time to time to remind me that I am there. She also will pat her paws while she sleeps and when she is having a good dream. And the best part comes when I come home everyday. People who own dogs know what this moment is like. The expression of unconditional love that happens as the dog rushes to greet you is unforgettable. They are all paws and wagging tails as they wish to show you how excited they are that you are back home. No matter how long you are gone for, eight hours or fifteen minutes, they will always greet you in this way. It is that love that can turn a terrible day into a great one.

This is the greeting I am looking forward to when I get back home. I know that she can be a stinker at times, but I am looking forward to seeing Zoey again. It is just an indication that I am ready for summer to wrap up so I can get to a life that I left behind a couple of months ago. It has been great to have this break, and I have enjoyed seeing all of the people I have gotten to revisit with during this time, but I am looking forward to getting back to the folks in my other life, especially my puppy.

A Short Love Story

My wife and I recently moved to Amman, Jordan and took new jobs at one of the international schools in this ancient city. It has been an exciting move, especially after a year of being forced to spend a year in a country and losing one of the aspects of this lifestyle that we enjoy the most, traveling. Though the opening of the world is still moving slowly, the change of scenery has been rejuvenating, and experiencing the change of seasons has been great. I never knew how much I loved this change in my life, and it is wonderful to experience the crisp, cool mornings of autumn again.

Despite all of these advantages, there was one we were really excited about. We had talked with the new school we were moving to, and made sure that they would supply us with a place that we would be able to have a pet in. It meant moving into a smaller apartment than the rest of the people starting with us, but after living the last six years in the big cities of Southeast Asia, we have learned a minimalistic lifestyle and didn’t really want a big place to begin with. It was more important that we ended up in place with a yard, so we could have a dog to share our time with. We were waiting until after we settled in, and our first big break before we talked with the rescue shelters and found the perfect companion for our place, but sometimes life moves quicker than you expect.

Enter into the narrative, a little puppy that was found wandering the streets of Amman as a stray. The city has a few of these running around the empty lots, but from my experience, they are still rare to see. It is not the like the soi dogs that could be found on the streets of Bangkok, but they are still here. Still, it is more common to run into stray cats scurrying throughout the neighborhood rather than a lone puppy looking for a companion.

Anyway, my co-worker had found this puppy running around her neighborhood. She took her in, and her daughter named her Socky for the white paws that she had. Her mom knew that they could not keep her because they already had a dog, and she knew many other people who were looking to adopt a dog. Of course, our name was top of the list. Within five days of them finding Socky, she was at our house running around, pulling shoes out of the closest, and cuddling up to us as we watched television later in the evening.

It was not exactly what I thought would have happened. My thoughts of adopting to a dog went to us finding an older dog that needed to be rescued and giving him or her a great life that they never experienced before. The older dogs are usually a little easier to bring in for the adjustment. You don’t have to house train them, and they don’t take the time that a puppy does. But when a cute little bundle of joy falls into your lap, it is hard to say no to her, so we ended up adopting her.

The first thing we did was change her name to Suji. We couldn’t keep it Socky because too many people thought she was named after the Japanese liquor, and the new name had a nice connection to the neighborhood we lived in Seoul. We also spent time puppy proofing the house, bought a few puppy comforts to make her feel at home, and took her out a regular basis to make sure she understood what it meant to go to the bathroom outside. It was a little bit of work, but it was worth it. She only had one accident in the house, and she was quickly becoming a part of the family. We were experiencing the love that can only come from a brand new puppy.

On the fourth day of being new dogs owners, we came home to find that Suji was exhausted. We did not think about it much because we had hired a dog sitter to come in for an hour a day to let her out and to play with her so she wouldn’t make a mess of the house while we were gone. The main worry we were having was a cough that she was developing and the fact that she wouldn’t eat or drink anything. Once again, we weren’t too worried about it because we had set up a vet appointment the next day so we could take her in to get a quick checkup and talk to them about eventually having her spayed. We could see if it was something serious then.

Well, the next day, we got a text from our dog sitter saying that Suji was running a little bit of a temperature, and she was having trouble walking. She still wasn’t eating or drinking, and our worry grew. This was beginning to look like something more serious than we originally thought. We rushed home after work, and took her to the vet where we were told that she had distemper. This is a disease that many stray dogs contract when they come in contact with wild animals. In older dogs, there is a slim chance of them surviving, but in puppies that chance is reduced significantly, and if they do recover, they will have extreme neurological damage for the rest of their lives. During the last stages of the disease, the brain and the brain stem swell causing loss of motor function, and severe seizures that are extremely painful. After some blood tests, it was shown that Suji was not responding well, and the disease had a great chance of progressing quickly. We had the tough choice to make, and we went with the advice of the vet and let Suji go in the thought that we were helping her overcome what would otherwise be a very painful ordeal that would have ended the same way.

Even though we had just gotten to know this little puppy, it was still an extremely difficult decision to make. It was a painful moment, but I do believe that we had done the right thing, but I don’t want to leave this story making you feel bad. That is not the purpose of this narrative. It is to talk about love, and how sometimes it is a long hug, and at other times it is just a short breath, but either way it is still a powerful emotion and one that I wouldn’t change for any other experience.

Suji’s life was short, and the time that she spent with us was even shorter. I could count the days that she was in our lives on one hand, and though I do not like the way that our relationship ended, I still loved the time we got to spend together. She brought a joy to our house for those five days. The way she smiled and wagged her tail when we got home will never be forgotten. The excitement she showed when I told her she was a good girl for peeing outside made me just as proud of these small accomplishments as she was. The greeting she gave every new person she encountered to spread the love that was inside of her was unforgettable. Those puppy moments where she would love to play and explore followed by those other puppy moments where she just wanted to cuddle were moments I will never forget. She brought love into our house, and I will be forever grateful for her for doing that. She had renewed a part of myself that had been missing for a long time, and I hate the hole she has left behind, but she has let me know that this kind of feeling is still out there waiting to be experienced again.

It might be a little while before we get another dog, but I now know that I need one of these furry friends roaming around my house. I know I will love the next dog just as much as I loved Suji, but I will always be grateful for her to bring this unconditional love back into my life. Even though it was a short love story, any moment that you get to experience love it is important, no matter how little amount of time they may be.

Thank you, Suji, and I hope that you rest in peace.