I just realized this thing about the heart… it is a muscle, not an organ. And like all muscles, it can be trained. The more I exercise it, the more muscular it becomes, the harder it gets. I’m surprised that I can even entertain the thought of giving away my dog, Rainbow. It hurts when my mum brought up the suggestion. But it hurts even more that I’m open to that idea.
I have 2 dogs – Joy and Rainbow. We got Joy from a pet shop about 7 years ago when she was 6 months old. Rainbow was given to my family about 2 years ago. It is an interesting story how she became one of us…
Rainbow was left outside the door of one of our neighbours on the 17th floor. That neighbour is terrified of dogs and called another neighbour staying on the 13th floor to come remove it. The 13th floor auntie is a dog lover and has 2 dogs of her own. She took Rainbow home and posted notices around the neigbourhood in the hope that the dog’s owner would come to claim it. No one came.
A few days and a lot of bullying from her 2 dogs later, the auntie bumped into my mum downstairs as she was coming home from work. The auntie knew we had a dog and asked if my mum would like to adopt Rainbow because she couldn’t handle 3 dogs and her other 2 dogs weren’t getting along with the new addition.
My mum came home telling my stepdad and I about this white dog. I wasn’t too keen because Joy is a total bitch when it came to socialising with other dogs. A friend used to let us housesit his pooch when he went on holidays and I’d witnessed what a total ass Joy can be.
But my mum was subtly insistent and after hearing about Rainbow and the auntie’s plan to send it to SPCA if no one is going to adopt the third dog, I decided to housesit Rainbow for a couple more days till the owner turn up. The few days turned into 20 months.
According to the vet, Rainbow was about 3yo when she came to live with us. She’s of the Jack Russell breed and all white (except for a speck of dark brown above her right eye and an ochre patch the size of a 10 cents coin near her left ear).
She’s all white but I named her Rainbow. I called her that because the rainbow is a symbol of the covenant between God and man; a promise of grace and forgiveness. But more significantly, I called her Rainbow because what colour do we get when all 7 spectrums of the rainbow converge into one? White.
Character-wise, Rainbow is a very mild-mannered dog. Even though she’s bigger in size than Joy, she allows herself to be bullied. She’s the kind of dog that greets you at the door leaping joyfully when you come home, rests its chin on your thigh while you watch TV, and sits by your feet while you type your blog (she’s curled up next to my right foot now). She loves people and instantly connects with visitors to our home (on the contrary, Joy is more aloof and seldom let others touch her unless it’s the family). I wonder very often if Rainbow’s constant need for attention, to the extend of being compulsive, is due to a long history of abandonment.
I remembered when I saw her, she was a beautiful, healthy dog. There were no signs of abuse and I thought to myself who would abandon such a cute, well-behaved and lovely dog. But after spending a few days with her, we realised the possible reason that she could be ditched. She doesn’t just shed fur. She snows.
All our furniture and clothes are covered constantly in her stubby white fur. The 2 dogs used to sleep with me but I was waking up in a fur coat. After strong persuasion from my mum, and I knew it was for my own health (because I’m asthmatic but I continued to sleep with the dogs as I can’t bear the thought of leaving them out in the cold), I weaned myself off them and let them sleep in the living room. We made each a plush bed with old sofa cushions.
Apart from the shedding, she has the occasional misfire in her toileting habits, missing the newspaper ever so slightly. But the last straw for my mum was when she peed on our toilet floor just now. I think this was the first time she did it. I don’t know why she did it. And I also don’t know why my mum would suggest giving her away because of a seemingly small mistake. Perhaps she’s had enough with all the loose fur. But do we just give up on someone or something that has an emotional bond so easily? At the slightest glitch in a relationship, we abandon it?
Seems like Rainbow might be up for another adoption. I wonder if she’ll be heartbroken when she finds us walking away leaving her behind with someone new. A friend of my mum’s said her husband met with an accident and is homebound but mobile. She’s looking for a dog to keep him company while she’s away at work. Being a ‘sticky’ kind of dog, Rainbow would be a perfect companion. But would the husband become depressed due to the accident and take it out on Rainbow? Would the family get fed up with her shedding and punish her to the point of abuse?
It pains to think about her going away. Heck, it brought tears to my eyes to even entertain the possibility of giving her away. It’s that kind of feeling where you feel pain doing it, you don’t want to do it, but you just can’t help wanting to do it. Life has no lack of treadmills, dumbells and dead weights to tire out our emotions. Perhaps that’s what a heart that has gone through a lot of training does, it lets reality take over being sentimental.
My mum is going to suggest to her friend about adopting Rainbow next Wednesday. She wanted to conceal the fact about Rainbow’s heavy shedding but I shared that we should be truthful about it. It would be an injustice to Rainbow if the new family doesn’t know about her problem, finds out about it and starts directing anger towards her because it gives them an excuse to.
So will Rainbow stay or will she go? I wish I don’t have such a muscled heart and know for sure she’ll stay. For better, or for worse. But the problem is, I don’t know.