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Parenting Him, Kinda???


I want to share a little story about Lenni, my pit bull mix rescue.  A non-bonding experience with him truly opened my eyes to a few things about “parenthood”.  First, let me start out by saying that I KNOW a pet is NOT a physical child.  So please do not come for me, lol.  I just needed to make that very clear before proceeding with this post.  However, for many pet owners, including myself, our pets ARE our “children” and very much part of the family.  A few months ago, I walked into my house after a long day of work.  I was feeling beat down and torn.  All I wanted to do was walk Lenni, eat dinner, shower, and spend the rest of the evening on the couch.  To my surprise, I walked in and immediately discovered that my home had been violated and burglarized!  I stepped over toiletries, towels, plants, books, garbage, and oh yeah, a torn up couch!  As I stood in the middle of my living room trying to make sense of what happened, I became overwhelmed and frustrated when I realized that Lenni had broken out of his crate.  OMG, he had created such a mess!  In my best attempt to remain calm, I just stood there and stared Lenni down.  Dude appeared to be smiling and straight chillin’ in the aftermath of the storm he created.  I slowly scanned the living room.  Lenni had truly made the living room his personal playground for the day.  My blood began to boil and the tears began to flow.  I was so angry!  I told myself that I wanted out!  I did not want to do this anymore.  I looked down at Lenni with frustration and he looked back up at me with love. He started sniffing at my leg as if to say, “Mama, I’m so glad you’re finally home!”  So let me pause and be real with you.  This was not Lenni’s first time breaking out of his crate.  He had mastered the art of the “great escape”, and had broken out of several crates!  I walked into the kitchen.  Lenni followed.  I called my dog trainer and inquired about shelters in the area.  I even called Ms. Joyce, the woman in charge of the rescue shelter where I adopted Lenni.  I told her that she needed to come get him right now, and I meant RIGHT NOW!  Both my trainer and Ms. Joyce tried to comfort me in my time of distress.  I did not want to hear it!  This dog had worked my very last nerve!  Lenni sensed I was annoyed.  He opened wide those pretty, brown eyes and jumped around, nudging at me to play with him.  To avoid falling deeper in love – I remained stubborn and stuck in my frustration and anger. I walked through and over the mess, he made. I opened up the back door and let Lenni out.  I did not follow.  He likely thought we were going out for our evening walk.  This was my first time ever letting Lenni outside without a leash and without me.   I closed the door behind him, called my sister and told her what I had done.  I described what my home looked like and shared that keeping Lenni would be a problem.  I did not care (at that moment in time) what would become of him.  Now my sister LOVES her some Lenni!  She, of course, scolded me (in a good way) and reminded me about the importance of having patience.  Yeah, I rescued Lenni from an over-populated kill dog shelter but I had no information about his past. Did previous owners crate him out of punishment?  Were the scars on his face and body evidence of abuse or illegal dog fighting?  Did he break out of his crate due to fear of being left home alone and unattended to for hours?  I will never have answers to these questions. However, what I do know is that someone abandoned him on a highway and now I was doing the same….abandoning him.  My sister reflected on all the challenges she had with her son, my nephew.  My nephew was a handful as a child!  Imagine a terrified Auntie with a screaming toddler throwing cans in the center aisle of a grocery store. I was that Auntie!  I had no clue what to do with my nephew who certainly was not ready to leave the store, lol.  Now, if you are thinking it, let me stop you right there.  I did not leave my nephew, lol; however, I was extremely overwhelmed.  Today, my nephew is a young adult handling his business.  He is so much better at managing his emotions now.  Everyone in our family had to have extreme patience with him.  So back to Lenni.  As I continued to vent on the phone, my sister kindly reminded me that Lenni is chipped, and if found; he would likely be returned to me.  Yeah, I was not getting off that easy.  My sister’s words resonated with me regarding patience.  I had to stop, reflect and look at the bigger picture.  I did not just rescue Lenni but Lenni rescued me (yes, cheesy but true, lol)!  See, I adopted Lenni during a very emotional time in my life.  I needed a permanent reason to get off the emotional roller coaster that I kept riding!  I needed and wanted to love and care for someone, something.  Lenni has been great at sensing my emotions. His little paws pitter-patter across the floor when he senses I am feeling a bit down, anxious or overwhelmed.  When I pet and hug him, I always feel a little better. I would like to think he does too.  I started to worry and quickly ended the conversation with my sister.  Extreme guilt and shame came over me.  Why did I act so impulsively?  What was I thinking?  What would I do if he were not there?  I raced to the back door and opened it up!  My Lenni was sitting right there on the very first step, lol!  He had not gone anywhere!  Maybe he just waited for me to come to my senses.  Most likely, he waited because he is also extremely bashful and scared of everything, lol!  Lenni came back in the house and I engaged him in play!  Lenni IS my baby, again, NOT in the physical sense.  However, I am responsible for providing him shelter, food, love, care, comfort and protection in every way possible.  Jokingly, I often share that I am not maternal.  I have somehow convinced myself that I would be “that mother” who is too emotional and constantly frazzled about being a mother.  Maybe it is just my heighted fear of being responsible for another human being.  Girlfriends have shared with me that the “maternal instinct” that many believe all women possess, just automatically kicks in once you have children.  Well, I have a dog, and now that I am a fur parent, I would like to think that my “maternal instincts” are flourishing just a bit, but in a slightly different way. I am that fur parent that calls Pet Paradise checking in on how Lenni is doing, lol.  I pack his sleep away bags, have dog-sitters on standby, and continue to nurse his paws back to health after he has licked on them too much.  I understand that parenthood is not easy whether it is an infant, toddler, teenager, adult child, or a rescued pit bull mix!  I love My Lenni and having him in my life is a great blessing.  Now don't get it twisted, he really tested my patience on that particular day!  He is still mischievous, I mean, he is a dog!  We are good though, lol!  Thankfully, working with a dog trainer, my veterinarian, and providing him much longer walks, Lenni has retired his crate breakouts.  I am very excited to celebrate his birthday and our 1-year anniversary together on 7/28/19!  Yep, I already have his doggie cupcake treats ordered!  Oh, the things we will do when we love our little ones!

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Comments

Unknown said…
I absolutely love this post! In my opinion, caring for a pet is similar to caring for child and Lenni is such a cutie!!
SHL said…
I have often heard that caring for a pet is similar to caring for a child and the words you expressed definitely express your love for your child.
Unknown said…
His eyes would get me every time.... 🥰🥰🥰 Your fur baby
Burton said…
Loved it; great post and please know if his Uncle has to come down there and...never mind (lol)
Angela said…
Great post! Sounds like you’ve really formed a special bond. Thank you for sharing your journey.
Max said…
Your are an awesome Mom to your fur baby.
Lynelle said…
I remember when we got Duke and tried to crate train him (our vet recommended it). Big mistake! We think his previous owners probably used it as punishment. After a couple of months we just decided to leave him out for the day to see what happened. He was such a good dog that day, and we haven’t had any problems since. Lenni’s got a great Mom-I’m glad you had support for the frustrating moments. :-)
Erinn Scott said…
Very apt comparison as we are in the throes of toddler tantrums. I love my child but her behavior sometimes- whew child! One thing I have learned about loving and caring for something other than yourself ( whether child, pet or partner) is that you WILL get triggered and the parts of self that you don’t like so much come staring you right in the face. Plus parenting a traumatized pup means he will get triggered too! I’m glad you have each other to learn how to trust and stick through the tough times. And glad you have your sister when you need those moments of woo-sah. -E
Timeka R said…
Angela listen this was funny, heartwarming and REAL at the same time! As a mom of two "human" babies (sons), I have felt like putting them on the doorstep a couple times especially in these teenage years. All honest and understandable feelings. Now find a new crate for Leni!
Joyce said…
I appreciated the perspective and recognition of 'mothering' without having children. The love of a pet reminds me of how stingy with my love I can be when not my best self. The example of Lenni reminds me to love!!!
Joan said…
I love this post! Our pets/fur babies teach us so much everyday. They help us express our emotions and become better nurturers. Lenni is blessed to have a pet parent like you. So many other animals suffer. Keep showering him with love. I know I can’t wait. To get home to my two cats. They bring me so much joy even when they test my patience!
Anonymous said…
I live this! If I wasnt afraid of dogs I would get a one too!
Tina said…
Love it! I’m so happy Lenni is still with you, you are an awesome mom to him. Keep up the great work.
David said…
Pets are like children. We teach them right from wrong and trust they do the right thing when we’re not in their presence. So may learn at a different pace than we would like but that’s when patience kicks in. We all know you love Lenni and love conquers all. He just went nuts on the wrong possible day. A day that had already worn you out. Think of the positive, had there been a real burglary he would’ve gotten out of the crate and handled his business. Lol. Keep loving Lenni.

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