Editor’s Note: Andrea Blan is a contributor to Dogster’s sister SAY Media site, xojane.com. This article first ran on xoJane, but we’re rerunning it (with permission!) so you can enjoy it and comment on it.
Lola came to live with us on Dec. 21, 2009. She was a shelter dog who had been passed around a few times — probably on account of her crazy ways — and when asked if we could take her, we said yes. We had a yard with space for her to run around and the only other inside pet was a Pug named Bombay, so we had plenty of room.
When she first came to live with us, we were sort of afraid that she’d eat our Pug, a little curmudgeon, who at the time, ruled the house and our lives. We quickly realized it was all for nothing as they instantly became the best of buds, partners in crime, and they earned many, many nicknames because of it, Buddy and Sister being my favorite.
Lola stayed to herself for the first week or so. She didn’t even bark and she was super silent. Almost too silent. I thought it was a bit odd, since she’s a German Shorthaired Pointer, a bird/gun dog notorious for locating and barking at prey. Eventually she became comfortable in our home and the jig was up! She now barks her ass off at birds in trees, and on walks she howls like a lunatic whenever she hears a siren. She is very vocal in general. I join in and howl with her sometimes. You know them crazies, always sticking together.
Over the last few years, Lola has been a major part in my life. When I lost MY partner in crime, she was a part of the support system that helped me through it all. I can’t even begin to count the amount of times I’d be sobbing over my new life, when she’d come and comfort me by laying her pretty head on my lap or come in for a hug.
During the day while I’m working, Lola stays home, plays with and breaks her toys/babies necks, sleeps and does God knows what else. I share a yard with good friends, so they are nice enough to let Lola out while I’m gone so she can use the bathroom and run around.
But, even though we have a yard that she can run laps, torture her chicken sisters and bark at passersby, there are times when Mrs. Lola doesn’t get as much exercise as her breed needs and I always feel guilty about that. When we’re on our walks, she does this jumping and barking thing that makes her look super crazy. I can’t even keep count of the amounts of people that have stopped on the sidewalk or even in their cars, to say they’ve never seen a dog do that! I’m used to it now, but it’s quite a sight, apparently.
So, imagine my surprise when I was verbally attacked by a woman — who was wearing pajama pants — for being a bad dog owner recently. One evening after work, after I stopped sweating from the hot temperatures we get in Albuquerque, I took my girl on a walk to the local grocery store, literally a block and a half from my house, to pick up a few items.
The drill is, we walk around the block so Lola can calm down a little, then hit the store. I tie her out front to the paper machine where it’s shaded and where she gets all sorts of attention and admiration from people leaving the store. I grab my items then we head back home to watch endless episodes of The Newsroom or Inside Amy Schumer. We’ve done it a hundred times.
This particular evening, however, a woman — who was, as I mentioned, WEARING PAJAMA PANTS, decided to yell at me across the parking lot as we were heading home. At first, I didn’t think she was yelling at me. After all, I’d never seen the lady before. But, as we kept going, I heard her say, “ASPCA … GIVE YOUR DOG SOME SHELTER AND WATER … ASPCA!!!” or something along those lines.
This was as she loaded her grocery cart full of bags into the trunk of her car, meaning she’d been in the store long before I was and only saw Lola upon leaving. I’m assuming Lola was being too friendly, probably jumping up to give a hug (horrible habit!) and I guess possibly looking neglected, even though she wears a collar with all of her tags.
Either way, this woman came to the conclusion that she needed to YELL AT ME across a parking lot instead of approaching me with genuine concern for my dog.
Now, anyone who knows me knows that I have a fiery temper. I can be a pistol at times and I usually don’t like backing down and taking crap from anyone. It’s a defense mechanism that has helped me at times, but has also hurt me, so my anger is something that I work on in therapy, among the countless other issues that make up little old Me.
I admit in the past, I would have engaged in a heated argument, name-calling and all. This time however, I simply stopped in my tracks when I realized she was indeed yelling at me, and told her to mind her own business. I started walking away but she kept on yelling.
So, I turned around and told her again to mind her own business and that I was embarrassed for her that she was wearing pajama pants out in public. YES, this was super-bitchy and immature, but to me, it was tons better than calling her the names I normally would call someone if I felt I was being attacked for no good reason.
I am far from perfect, but a bad dog owner I AM NOT, and I refuse to let anyone tell me otherwise. Even if this lady was concerned for the well-being of my dog, she could have voiced it another way. I usually don’t respond well to yelling, but this time I was proud that I walked away in a manner that didn’t leave me seething with rage. This lady had no idea what she was talking about and for a split second, I almost felt bad for the pajama jab, but her fake concern for my dog was just handled in an inappropriate manner on her part.
So, long story short: My animals mean the world to me, and my dog — hell, even my chickens — are spoiled rotten. I love and cherish them and try to show them every day how much they mean to me. And if another random stranger feels the need to critique my pet-owning skills, I’ll just have Lola flash them a smile, letting them know she’s fine and to carry on.