Homage to a Difficult Dog

By T. Rutter

Watson, a scruffy terrier and I, came into each other’s lives as broken beings.

Watson as a victim of animal abuse, and me as a fresh and hurting divorcee.

I knew Watson was the dog for me when, during our first shelter “meet and greet” he leaned up against me, looked at me with melty brown eyes and chomped down on my left hand.

What can I say? We were a mess.

I’ll never know what horrible things happened to Watson before he was found, stick thin and matted in South Central Los Angeles. In addition to being wildly under socialized, he was terrified of balloons, human feet, people running, loud noises and most of all, men.

Watson may not have known it at the time, but he was going home with a forty something year old woman at the tail end of some epically bad life choices. My divorce had been messy.

I was a runner.

Adopted from a foster home as an infant, my adoptive parents, touting the wisdom of the day had made of point of drumming into my head the words,

“Your real mother loved you so much, she gave you away.”

While that may very well have been true, the takeaway in my kid brain ran more along the lines of, "when someone loves you, they ditch you".

Love means leave.

My solution? Get the hell out first.

The first inkling of change and I ran straight into the arms of the “next best thing” which resulted in a downward spiral of relationships topped by a treacherous reputation as a “heart breaker”.

When my ex-husband had insisted our shared pooch move in with him, I discovered an ache for the smell of dog and the sound of doggie feet, which led me to the Internet and finally to that fateful day when Watson and I stumbled and chomped our way into each other’s lives, two grownups in desperate need of a fresh start.

Within weeks of coming home with me Watson annihilated every one of my fantasies about being a single pet parent. Not for us the relaxing afternoon on a local coffee house patio, oh no, Watson terrorized every single server unfortunate enough to approach us by lunging out from under the table in