I’m not a dog person. Let me say that again. I am NOT a dog person. I really don’t like them at all. It probably has something to do with my sister getting bit by our family dog when I was about 4 - 5 years old. It wasn’t really the dog’s fault. My sister accidentally slammed his tail in the car door and he reacted. I can still remember looking at the open wound on her arm and being surprised that I wasn’t bleeding, but that other stuff was coming out of it. So gross.
But after that, I wanted nothing to do with dogs or cats or animals at all really. She was fine, by the way. We took her to the emergency room and they stitched it right up. She still has a faint scar.
My best friend
In 2017 I had to move back home with my parents. At 31, it was horribly embarrassing. I had gotten laid off, lost half of my possessions, my car was repossessed and my independence was gone. It was one of the worst times of my life. My depression spiraled to a really dark place.
When I walked in the door of my parent's house, their miniature dachshund, Ginger, walked up to me and decided she was my best friend. She sat on my lap every time I sat down, waited for me outside of my door in the mornings and insisted on going every time I left the house.
Somehow, she knew I was going through a lot and needed some support. And somehow, her just being there was precisely what I needed.
Fast forward 6 years, I’d gotten my shit together, gotten the best job of my life, had my own place again and my niece needed a place to stay for a while. She was also going through a really hard time and needed some help. She is a dog person and wanted to get a dog for some support. I was thrilled! “Yes, I’d love to have a Ginger in my house!” I thought. Then she dropped a bomb on me: she didn’t want a sweet little mini doxie. She wanted a Golden Retriever MONSTER.
I tried desperately to figure out how to say no when I had already said yes. I played the “he’s your responsibility” card as much as I could but to no avail. Before I knew it she brought home the monster.
Before and after
There was a time in my life before Goose. It was fun then. I had freedom to do things… like walk through the kitchen without my socks getting wet (because no one got water everywhere every time they took a drink), eat my dinner on the couch without being harassed, and go for a walk on my lunch break without the mandatory poo stop. No one ate the trim off of the windows. It was nice then. I liked the “before.”
The “after” is a lot more stressful. We can’t go to Target without getting dog treats and toys. We can’t leave the house for more than 4 hours max at a time. We have to batten down the hatches every time the house hippo is released from his enclosure and his handler yells, “Here he comes!”
Being responsible for someone else’s whole life is a lot of responsibility. I thought I was responsible until my niece and her hippo came to live with me. But now, I look at everything I do and say differently. I know that they are looking at me for direction, whether they know it or not. It’s terrifying! All of a sudden I see a hundred more things in my life that need to be improved. But at the same time, I have a solid reason to improve that’s more than just me.
The Other People Exception
I’m really good at helping others, but not so good at helping myself. I’ve realized that and accepted it. It’s ok. But there’s an exception: I can help myself when it helps others. All of a sudden, the thing that was so impossible to do for me, is now not a problem to do for someone else.
I’ll give you an example. I work from home most days and I really want to get some exercise and some vitamin D. It’s necessary for me. But I can’t force myself to find a time to do it, even though it’s nice outside and there’s plenty of places to walk and we live in a nice neighborhood and we also live in an apartment building that has a nice gym that no one else uses. I just can’t. It’s impossible.
But when Goose starts eating his enclosure curtains and crying for attention at 9am I know that a walk will help. When 12pm comes around, I lace up my sneakers and off we go. It’s for him, so it’s definitely going to happen. We walk for 30 minutes every day. He’s a nicer doggo and I’m a nicer person. I feel like I’ve accomplished something too.
Every INFJ should have a dog
I truly believe that it’s something we should all experience. It’s nice to have someone else around, to fuss over and take care of. Plus there’s the added benefit that if you live in an apartment like I do, everyone will know who Goose is, but they have no clue who you are. Famous, yet anonymous as always.