My dog, Tina, is a 14-pound terrier Chihuahua mix. She has been described as an “angry burrito with legs,” an “alien,” and “the devil.” She has bitten everyone she has ever come into contact with, she chews through doors and she tries to fight dogs three times her size. I love her more than anything else in the world.
I found Tina in a Barnes & Noble parking lot when I was 12. She was, I thought at the time, the sweetest dog I had ever seen. I begged my parents to keep her, and they reluctantly agreed.
Everything seemed fine at first, but over the course of next two weeks, she bit our faces, ripped up our carpeting and barreled down any barrier that futilely attempted to keep her contained. She was like a haunted doll. No matter what we did to try and keep her in one place, she would inexplicably show up menacingly at the top of the stairs the next morning.
My parents tried to convince me take Tina back to the shelter at least three times within the first year of adopting her. With all the adolescent angst and resolve I could muster, I forced them to let me keep her. It wasn’t Tina’s fault that she was so awful, I told them, because she spent the entirety of her puppy days on the streets. We made the decision to adopt her, and we had to stick to it.
The Orange County Animal shelter took in 4,815 stray dogs last year, according to its website. Moving, cost of maintenance and “having no time for a pet” are among the most common reasons people give up their pets, according to a study conducted by the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy. I’ve had friends who have adopted and then given away pets to a shelter on several occasions because the dog was too much to handle or didn’t fit into their lifestyle.
Tina certainly didn’t fit into my or my family’s lifestyle, but it’s not like she had any say in our choice to adopt her. If, like my 12-year-old self, you choose to get a pet on a whim, you had better be prepared to handle the responsibility –and destroyed furniture – that comes with it.
Though pets aren’t children, they are still living beings that require a lot of commitment. Getting a puppy because it’s cute or because your friends have one and then giving it away at the first sign of trouble is irresponsible.
I don’t want it to seem like Tina has been nothing but a blight upon my life. She is a loving dog with a spunky personality, but she just happens to have the soul of a salty sea captain who runs an underground boxing ring on the weekends. A lot of terriers do.
I did no research before adopting her, but that’s my fault, not hers. Despite her issues, I often compare her to Instagram-famous terrier “Mr. Bubz,” who, despite his snarling antics, is unconditionally loved by his owners, as all animals should be. She may be akin more to a demon than a dog, but she’s my demon.