My longest romantic relationship lasted just six months. The longest I’ve lived in one home as an adult is less than two years. And don’t even get me started on my hobbies — they change on a weekly basis.
When it comes to commitment, I’ve been told I have some issues. When I adopted a puppy, more than one person was a little nervous. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
It was a week before my birthday when I met Luna, a 4-pound, 3-month-old bundle of fluff with a penchant for chewing my sandals — and it was love at first sight.
She was curious and bright-eyed, tiny and vulnerable, and, after a heart-wrenching recent breakup, she filled me with a joy that I didn’t know I could still feel.
I absolutely had to have her. The only problem was that I was renting a room from a friend and there was nothing specific in our contract about getting a dog. I would have to go home, ask my friend about the dog, await her reply, and hope that no one adopted Luna the meantime.
I was terrified that someone else would fall in love with her while I was making my plans. So, you’ll understand when I say that I sat with Luna until closing time that night, making sure no one else could adopt her before I had my chance. Come closing, I kissed her tiny wet nose and went to find my landlord/friend.
A few agonizing days later (during which I called every hour or two to make sure no one had adopted her yet), my landlord announced that I couldn’t have a dog.
I thought that my heart would sink through the floor, that I’d bargain or beg, that I’d be devastated. But, instead, I stood up calmly, thanked my friend for letting me know, and gave her my notice. I was renting month-to-month, and I’d be out before the month was through.
You see, I had already committed to this dog. I’d already whispered in her tiny ears that I was going to come back for her. I had already carved out a space in my heart and my life. I had already looked up training books and gone to the pet supply store to scope out food and crates.
The next day, I signed a lease at a new apartment and put a deposit down for Luna so that they would hold her for me until I could pick her up and move into my new space the next day.
The things we do for love, right?
And despite my penchant for newness and change, despite the hesitation of friends and my supposed commitment issues, more than three years later, Luna and I are still inseparable. She has taught me more about long-term commitment and healthy relationships than anyone else.
In those first months, I learned the joy of consistency. The triumph of trying over and over and over again until she learned a new trick, or stopped being afraid of the dishwasher, or discovered she could hold it all night. And our joy in those first months was contagious, brightening the days of my fellow office workers, my friends, acquaintances we made during our long walks in the park, and so on.
In the second year, I discovered the beauty of sticking things out. I worked through the frustrations of training, which took a little longer than I wanted. I spent ages finding us new dog-friendly homes when each lease was up. I found joy in even the tedious parts of dog ownership.
And I thought, This must be what it feels like to be truly committed, to truly love. Because I’ve always believed that love resides in our actions, not just with our feelings.
This fall, Luna and I will have our four-year anniversary. And, if it’s possible, I love her even more now than I did that first year when I needed her so desperately, when she was the key to my joy. Now, she is grafted deeply into my life, going everywhere I go, sleeping beside me as I work, traveling with me around the world.
And I think it’s safe to say that I’m not really a commitment-phobe. I just take commitment very seriously, and only commit myself if I am truly willing to see things through, come hell, high water, or the search for dog-friendly housing.
I still don’t live in apartments for very long. I still bounce from city to city. And I still haven’t met a man I want to spend my life with. But when it comes to my dog, I am all in, and I’m learning more about what that means every single day.
Q. What happens when a commitment-phobe adopts a puppy?
A. Something beautiful.
Gigi Griffis is a writer and humorist with a penchant for snuggly puppies, new places, and Italian cooking. In May 2012, she sold her stuff and took to the road with a growing business and a pint-sized pooch. You can read all about her adventures on her travel blog — and she’d love to be friends on Facebook.
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