Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Nobody's Perfect

Although I obviously adore Maisie, I feel I should also try to make an effort to paint a realistic portrait of what living with her is like.  She is a dog with issues...although she's great off-leash at daycare and the dog park, she is leash aggressive and sometimes man-aggressive and I have more than once referred to her as "my cross to bear."

It may help you to understand Maisie a bit better if I share some of her history.  In the fall of '08, when she was probably not yet a year old, she and another dog were found at an abandoned house near the United Center.  Here is a picture of where they were discovered by a lovely and dedicated woman named Sue (who also started the Trio Animal Foundation).  They were near the open space at the bottom:

This is what skinny little Maisie looked like then:

After Maisie spent some time at Animal Care and Control, Sue managed to find a family to adopt her.  They named her Harley.  The husband wanted a dog to be a running partner, but something Maisie experienced in that first "lost" year of her life made her fearful of strange men.  She would not run with him and the two just did not bond.  So the family reliquished her to Playful Pets, a daycare facility that sometimes housed dogs without foster homes for a rescue called New Leash on Life Chicago (full disclosure - I was a founder of that organization, and still serving on the Board of Directors at that time).

In January of 2009, I had to put down my dog Kaya after over 16 years together.

It was a very painful time, and after less than two weeks I could no longer stand the silence and stillness of my empty apartment.  So I decided to foster and then, to foster "Harley." She'd been living at the daycare for a month at that point, with no applications to foster or adopt her.  Although (as you all know) she is very very cute and also quite smart, she is a) black and b) a pit mix, both of which greatly reduced her adoption potential.  Black dogs tend to be overlooked in favor of lighter colored dogs, and pit bulls (and pit mixes) are obviously not the easiest dogs to place.  So Maisie came home with me and with the exception of walks and eating, basically slept for two days straight.  These are two of the first pics I ever took of her:

After a month or so, I had fallen in love with her (and she with me).  I was determined to make her feel safe at last.  A month later, she was mine.  And she was Maisie.

In addition to the aforementioned fear-related aggression problems, Maisie also has horrendous separation anxiety (she's been on anti-anxiety meds for well over a year but still freaks out when left alone) and a loud, frequent bark which actually once made me lose my apartment! We've done quite a bit of training together and while there have been significant behavior improvements, she is and perhaps always will be a work in progress.  I hate to think of what Maisie's early life must have been like to make her so scared and jittery so often.  People have asked me why I went through with the adoption after knowing her issues...but we ALL have issues, myself included.  If I can't love a damaged little soul like her, why should I be deserving of love?


Unknown said...

Beautiful story!

Maisie's Mom said...

thanks Jill! and thanks to Sue for putting in all the work to save her!

Anonymous said...

It's wonderful that you and Maisie found each other.
What a great name!

Maisie's Mom said...

thanks! I figure she's crazy Maisie now, I hope that one day she'll be lazy Maisie!

Two Pitties in the City said...

I'm always interested in hearing the flashback story, and mostly astounded by what so many dogs have gone through in their lives before finding loving homes. All dogs have some kind of issue, but I think it's lucky that you've found eachother.

Maisie's Mom said...

I feel lucky we found each other too. and also fortunate to actually know the woman who rescued her, and to have pictures documenting where she was found.

(reposted 'cause I said "fell" instead of "feel" the first time)

Beth said...

So sweet. I am glad she was able to find someone like you.

rebakay said...

"If I can't love a damaged little soul like her, why should I be deserving of love?" You made me cry Mz. Francie!!!

Maisie's Mom said...

Rebs, I got a little emotional writing it, to be honest!