I had a chapter book though that I carried with me for months and I would stare at the cover all the time. The book was called “A Home for Jesse”. It was a book about a boy who found a little dog. I dreamed about being the one in the story, about Jesse being my dog. I dreamed about that for years. I did eventually finish the book, but the details of the story escape me now.
All of my life I wanted a dog. We were allergic. We didn’t have a fence. We never lived in a house that we owned; it was always the church’s house. Finally, the summer of my 13th year we got Belle. I loved her. I had always wanted her. But Belle was the family dog, more specifically, she was Mom’s dog. I also was young and immature and didn’t truly understand what it meant to love her in the way I should.
Time passed. Years went by. I kept telling myself when I finished school I’d get a dog (this was before I realized I’d be in college for 10 years!!). Then when I was finally done I started working odd hours and didn’t feel like my schedule would be conducive to raising a puppy. It seemed I would never fulfill my wish.
When I moved to Raleigh a lot of things in life began to change for me. Priorities began to be refocused. I started evaluating things from a different perspective. I began to put an emphasis on other things. Mainly me and what I needed. Some things I had neglected for a long time.
I still wasn’t sure about a dog. I knew that within time I would begin working 24h shifts. How in the world can a person get a dog, a puppy, and work for 24h?? I had no clue, but I began to look. I met a lot of people and met a lot of dogs, but none of the dogs were the “one”. I was almost ready to quit looking, but at the same time, I had such an intense desire. I had finally given true hope to a lifelong dream and it wasn’t going to let me give up.
I’d been to the shelter before; hundreds of dogs yelping in a large room. The smells, the sights (and this from a person immune to most smells and sights). My cousin Audrey decided to go with me. We walked around. I was really in a funk while we were there, I was never going to find the perfect dog. There were 4 criteria I was looking for: female, dark colored (I’m a racist), small, and doesn’t shed. Nothing seemed to fit what I wanted.
Audrey and I were laughing at so many of the names. They were funny and ridiculous. We walked and balked and looked and laughed and toured. Then there she was. I don’t know why or how, but I knew it was her, I knew it was my dog. I bent down to pet her through the chain link cage. She licked my hands and was so excited to see me. I was down there with her for awhile. Audrey was standing at my back. “What’s her name?”, I asked. “Um. Tara”. “What I said? Tara’s not a dog name!” I stood up, and there it was in black and white, her name was Tara. I laughed, but truthfully that was the moment I knew it was meant to be. God in his infinite wisdom had pointed her out to me.
I donned a gown and went into her cage. She smelled, she shed, she was going to keep growing, she was at least female and dark colored though. I loved her immediately. But my heart grew hard and after playing with her for a few more moments I left. I left without her.
I have a fear of intimacy, of commitment, of trust. I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t let myself be vulnerable, even to an animal.
So I went home and took a hot bath and couldn’t stop thinking of my little dog. I got up and went to church the next morning. While there, I named her. The shelter opened at 12 noon. Church got out at 11:45 and I rushed there. I was afraid someone might have gotten my dog.
They hadn’t. I paid for her before I even went back to see her. I spent the rest of the afternoon shopping for her and getting ready to bring her home. Then, on Wednesday, I did. It was touch and go at first. We both had so much to learn about each other. I was afraid I’d never housetrain her.
She has done more for me than I could have ever known. I love this crazy little dog more than anything. I am so proud of her. She has blessed me in so many ways.
As a single person there are a lot of benefits to living alone. I drink out of the milk carton, eat out of the ice cream bucket, leave doors open when I should close them, and nobody cares what I do. But there are some negatives too: no one’s here when I get home from work, nobody ever fixes my dinner, and nobody cares what I do. Ruthie does though, and sometimes that makes all the difference.
My life has been deeply enriched by Ruth. I will forever be thankful for her.