Thinking You're Not Ready

Have you ever seen the movie Homeward Bound? We're going to talk today about this movie about three pets who get lost and try to find their way home. Hence the name, I guess. I saw this movie when I was young. Really young, I guess, because I couldn't tell you much of what actually happens, but from a young age, I remember being ingrained with the idea that I had to get a dog just like Shadow.

Shadow was a golden retriever and just one of the most beautiful dogs you've ever seen. My parents have had small dogs growing up and I've loved them so much, but Shadow was always the ideal for some reason.

Flash-forward to this Valentines Day. I've got this girlfriend, see, and she likes dogs as much as I do. She's had them growing up too. We both want one, but I can't have one at the house I rent and she lives in the dorms. What can we do?

Go play with dogs at the adoption event at PetSmart, of course.

Before we go, I get her a big stuffed dog and tell her it's because I can't get a real one. We laugh, and then we head to PetSmart. We stay for a lot longer than I intend. I'm in love.

But of course, there's that landlord. I can't get a dog. I call anyway to check. My landlord says it's okay. I can get one if I want.

Suddenly, my excuses are out the window and all I'm left with are questions. The main one in my mind is this: Am I really ready for the responsibility of a dog?

To not answer the question at all, I'd like you to meet Maddy.

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She's 2 and a shepherd/lab mix and just the sweetest. She likes sitting on the couch with at least one paw touching you and she sits very still while we're watching a movie or while I'm writing. She hasn't wrecked anything or made a mess in the house yet and you can tell she wants to eat the food right out of your hand, but she doesn't.

She's a great dog, but for the two nights I've had her, when all the friends leave and give her their goodbye pats, I panic. Because, still, that question: Am I really ready for the responsibility of a dog?

Right now, she's asleep next to me and I feel like I could fly. This has been the dream since I knew I wanted to write. Big dog at my feet (well, roughly) who doesn't distract but just adds to it. In these moments, I'm ready.

But when we walk outside and I can barely keep her on the leash, I get that fear again. Like I'm going to ruin her or lose her or hurt her.

I have a dog. I don't know if I'm ready, but maybe this will make me better, like a character in a book or a movie.

I hope it will.