My dog is stubborn and barks at babies, but I don't regret rescuing him

May 11, 2016 at 4:28 p.m. ET
Image: Kristine Cannon

Some women think long and hard about what their future children's names will be. Me? I had a name picked out for my future child real quick. And by child, I mean dog.

I was 14 when inspiration struck during a competitive game of Mario Kart with my younger sis.

"You know what would be a great dog name?" I asked Melissa after strategically dropping a line of banana peels in her path and then shooting off a red shell to finish off the attack. "Yoshi."

"That's cool," she responded, clearly frustrated.

"Yeah," I continued, much more self-assured, "That's what I'll name my next dog. It'll be the best since he's obviously the best character in the Mario universe. After Lucky and Fuzzy are gone, obviously."

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Thirteen years after winning that race, and three years after our two dogs died, I finally rescued a dog — a 2-year-old dachshund-spaniel mix — and promptly named him Yoshi. He was the most timid dog in that shelter, but I was completely drawn to him. His hair was shaggy, unkempt — the long hairs on his ears too cute to pass up. After signing the papers and naming him, I was eager to start day one of the next 10 years of being a dog owner with the world's most adorable, quiet dog.

My rude awakening came two days later. Yoshi was nothing like his shelter self anymore. While I mistook him being scared for being naturally calm in nature, his true, flawed and eccentric self was finally out. He turned into, well, an asshole.

More: 7 pet parenting mistakes that I totally regret

I noticed he had a cocky strut when we went on walks — and got real scary-aggressive around other dogs (read: he wanted to bite their heads off). Suddenly he growled at nearly everyone we passed on our walks. Then he started barking at babies — babies! — and moms pushing the strollers would give me a look that screamed: "Why would you adopt a demon dog? You crazy? I hate you." I even had this conversation with my upstairs neighbor after Yoshi freaked out on his dog:

Him: "How's Cujo?" Chuckles at his own joke.
Me (smiling politely): "He's OK, thanks for asking…" Looks around awkwardly. "K, see ya later!"
Secretly, though, I was thinking: "Well, that's a rude nickname. Appropriate, but rude. Also, you don't even know him!"

Yoshi is a wild, stubborn dog that I feel like I can barely control. But you know what? Challenge accepted.

My boyfriend and I have been training him — and he is catching on, slowly but surely. And yes, we resorted to putting a shock collar on him because our efforts to get him to stop barking in the apartment while we were gone fell flat (but, hey, at least it's working). But most importantly, we are insanely patient with him — because that's what a dog you've only known for six months needs: patience, and lots of it.

More: Why I don't think shock collars are animal abuse

My dog might be a people-, baby- and animal-hating asshole right now, but I love him anyway. Why? Because he'll jump on the couch and cuddle with me when he gets scared. Because he'll lick my arms excitedly for about five minutes when I come home from work (it's oddly become his ‘welcome home' greeting, but I'm not complainin'). And during our walks, he'll stare right into my eyes (and by eyes, and mean my soul because it feels that intense) when he takes a dump because I know he needs me to assure him that he's safe while in his most vulnerable position. Plus, he'll secretly sleep at the foot of my bed even though he's not allowed to — because I assume he wants to be close to us.

Oh, he also does this:


So it's not all bad, but taking care of a dog is absolutely not easy. We all know this. And it's especially not easy when you feel like you're doing everything wrong. But what helps is reminding yourself to always do one thing: just love the dog, and make sure he knows it — especially when it comes to rescues. I don't know what happened to him before I brought him into my home, but I do know that his life moving forward will be full of belly-rubs, monthly BarkBox gifts and the tough love he will probably still need for years to come. Because no one dog is perfect, and that's OK; he'll be OK. And I will be, too, once we can get him to stop growling at babies. That's just the worst.

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