A few weeks back, a slightly panicked D, my brother’s wonderful girlfriend, called me to ask what I was doing the weekend of July 18. D&D were planning to join friends for a weekend in the Hamptons, leaving their two girls, a pug and a pit bull, alone for a few days. Fortunately for them, this past weekend was the only weekend in July that I was, in fact, available, so I readily accepted the chance to staycation in my old neighborhood and hang out with the dogs. Their pug is a funny little pooch with a big personality, and we always joke that she’s more like a cat: disinterested in humans to an extent, unless you’re making dinner, while the pit bull is a rescue. They found her while on vacation in Puerto Rico, fell in love and speedily brought her up to the States to foster upon their return.
All dogs have their little quirks and oddities, whether a full breed, a mutt, a show dog or a rescue. Some of them chew furniture, some are terrified by the vacuum, some sleep upside down and some turn circles when excited. That said, the quirks for rescue dogs are generally more pronounced and require more attention. Rescue dogs have dealt with anything from abandonment to abuse, and all are affected in different ways. For example, my parent’s dog, a half-golden retriever, half-Rottweiler rescue, has a “saving people” complex when it comes to our pool, constantly jumping in after us (read: on top of us), running around the edge of the pool barking in the meantime. D&D’s pitty is deaf, and as I learned this weekend, if she’s ready to be done with her walk, she just lays down where she is. Doesn’t matter if it’s in the middle of the bike lane in Central Park, two buildings away from her own or even in the middle of an intersection – if she is tired, she lays down. These little quirks can be funny, but also frustrating, when you’re just trying to go for a swim, or you’re also tired and just want the dog to stand for the 3 steps back home.
And then again, while all dogs love you unconditionally and in their own way, I think there’s a deeper level of understanding and love in rescue dogs and their humans. This isn’t to say I didn’t have a total blast with their pug – she is such a funny little munchkin, hamming it up at the dog park, nestling right between my legs every night and snoring loudly till morning. But sitting on D&D’s couch this weekend, with the pitty snuggled next to me, head in my lap, so content, I could almost feel her gratitude radiating, like she knew she’d been rescued by someone and wanted to make sure she earned your love. She may have separation anxiety and sit outside the shower door while you’re there, she may take a liking to your running shoes and try to chew one while waiting for a walk, but when she gives a big smile and flops next to you on the couch after a long walk, it’s almost as though she knows she could be somewhere worse right now, and she has you (well, your brother and his girlfriend) to thank for that.
I faced a fair bit of dog-discrimination this weekend walking around the Upper East Side with a pit bull – one man’s fluffy little rat dog charged at her and he chastised me for “not paying attention” (bro, don’t blame your dog’s attitude on my dog’s breed), and a few times I noticed people crossed the street or picked up smaller dogs to avoid passing her on their walks. But more often people cooed over her, completely enamored with her eyes, one green, one blue, and the way she just loves everyone, so excited to receive any type of attention. The pug was such a good big sister, leading the pit bull around the neighborhood and making friends for both of them, most people so taken and amused by the site of the two of them together. It’s a lot of work taking care of two dogs, especially when one hates her new Gentle Lead leash and snorts at you when you try to put it on, and the other can’t hear you say “NO!” when she tries to run into a busy street. For those grateful snuggles at the end of the night though, I’ll take wonky rescue quirks any day of the week.