One year ago tomorrow, two of my roomates and I wanted to stop by Barnes & Noble because we love to read (and maybe spoil ourselves with a new novel or fifty), Michael’s for crafting supplies, and before leaving, getting lunch at either Qdoba or Petsmart. We parked at the end of the parking lot by Barnes & Noble, and walked our way down.
I went out for books & lunch, I left with a dog.
His name is Bucky, formerly Brutus – the adoption center changed it and retaught him his name because they thought no one would adopt a pit-mix named Brutus. My roommates and I believe he used to be part of a dog-fighting ring, then abandoned because he has the wrong temperament for it. When we got him, he was malnurished, infested with worms, had numberous scars and a broken rib.
He is a pit-mix, so the adoption agency gave him to me for free. I grew up with bulldogs, I was used to “aggressive breeds” and knew that this puppy, who was just a year and a half old, would be put down if no one claimed him.
Bucky has helped me so much since I got him. Men who used to stare after me in the street refuse to meet my gaze when I walk with Bucky. When I would take him to the quad, people made room for me. Other people with dogs wouldn’t come near, despite his gentle and social nature. He loves being around people and dogs – but all anyone sees is an aggressive pit.
What they don’t see is a dog who loves lie down in my lap despite being my height on his hind legs and 80 pounds. What they don’t see is a dog who won’t let me out of his sight because he gets so anxious something will happen to me. What they refuse to see is a dog so gentle, that if I am too sick to get out of bed, he won’t whine, won’t beg, won’t eat, until I am feeling better. What they refuse to see is a dog who is terrified of having his tail grabbed, what I assume to be from previous abusive owners, but will want his hand held if he’s scared. A dog who won’t bark at anyone who comes into the house but will go bananas over anyone delivering a pizza, and he always knows when its pizza. A dog so smart and at the same time, so insanely stupid.
He reminds me, a lot, about how context informs what we see. He is stuck, forever, with this stereotype that goes against him. I am stuck, forever, with my disability and the color of my skin. I am going to be celebrating tomorrow the day I adopted him. I do not celebrate the day I was born, nor the day I was diagnosed, though both are dates I have ingrained in my memory. I will have to deal with questions like “What’s it’s like being Muslim?” (I’m not but people assume I’m of Arab descent and, therefore, a practicing Muslim) or “Where are your parents from?” or “Is it hard, you know, not being normal?”
I also will have to deal with “But isn’t he aggressive?” or “Well, you can’t have kids, you know, with that kind of dog.” or “Isn’t he a lot for someone like you to handle?” because of a choice I made, to adopt him, my big dumb baby boy. He is a choice I made and don’t regret. Everything else about me…isn’t.
Which makes me glad to have a dog who won’t ask me questions. Who loves me, fully and entirely. Who stays by my side and holds my hand and is allergic to gluten.
Happy Gotcha Day, Bucky. I love you.