Day 139 of self-isolation.
I’m sure I had mentioned it before, but I wanted to give myself a full year after Nico’s passing before I would ever adopt another dog again. Despite my love of dogs, I would wait until April 2020 to even consider getting a pet. Then, of course, COVID-19 hit the world, and we were all pretty much forced into our homes.
During the onset of the pandemic and subsequent quarantine, I would look online at adoptable dogs at animal shelters and wonder if now was the right time to get a new pup. I live alone, and although I enjoy my solitude and independence very much, it would have been nice to have a companion. It was mid-July when I realized I’m a little lonely, and despite COVID-19 and the financial hardships I’ve experienced since getting furloughed, I was ready.
I applied to several adoption agencies and explained my background and my life with Nico, and I was a surprised I was pre-approved by nearly every shelter. I also told myself that I’d get a corgi or corgi-mix, but as someone who loves dogs so much, any puppy would do. Of course, I wanted a young pup (preferably female since I felt they’re easier to house-train), and I knew I’d devote many, many years to this new companion. I wanted a lifelong commitment from the get-go.
One shelter, Second Chance Rescue NYC, had this 3-month old puppy that they found in Mississippi. She looked like a pitbull-mix, tiny enough to carry around on the subway, and had one floppy ear and one upright ear. Her name was Valley.
I applied to adopt her, and lo-and-behold, they were more than willing to give her to me. I had a few Facetime calls and various text messages with Valley’s fosters, and she seemed like a really chill and relaxed dog. Still, I was on the fence to adopt her: apprehensive that I’ll lose that care-free, independent lifestyle I had after Nico died, I wondered if I was truly ready. Nevertheless, I scheduled a socially-distant, outdoor, in-person meeting with her foster in Vinegar Hill.
On a beautiful Saturday afternoon, I rode the subway for the first time since March (it was weird and empty and quiet). I walked to the fosters’ apartment, repeating to myself, “This is just a meeting, no need to fully commit to anything just yet.” In fact, I called Brett, Morgan, and Brian to see if they wanted to meet this puppy themselves; surely, their sage advice would help me with my indecision to welcome another dog in my life. As I approached the fosters’ building, I saw a woman step out of her car with this happy-go-lucky puppy on a leash; it was Valley.
I yelled hello, and Valley immediately came to me to greet me. I noticed she had a slight limp and a wonky leg — a result of having broken it when she was a baby but had fully healed somewhat incorrectly. Brett, Morgan, and Brian eventually came, and the foster asked me if she wanted to walk around the block with Valley. As the foster went inside her apartment to drop off some things, my friends and I commented at how cute and small she was. She was relatively relaxed and just so curious to smell everything. Brett, Morgan, and Brian felt this dog was a good choice.
When we returned to the foster’s building, I called Second Chance Rescue to say that Valley was the dog for me. I Venmo’d the adoption fees, and requested to the foster if she can drop Valley the next day; I had to puppy-proof my apartment and get the necessary supplies (food, leash, collars).
Walking back to my neighborhood with Brian and Morgan, they reassured me that this was the dog for me, and I laid out my plan for the rest of the day: go to the pet store, remove anything in my apartment that Valley can reach, find all of Nico’s old stuff, and clear out and clean Nico’s crate (it had all of her beds, blankets, etc.). A lot of Nico’s stuff had her scent on it (especially when she was dying), so I did a lot of laundry. I spent the rest of the day cleaning and organizing.
The next morning, I woke up incredibly early and felt very anxious. I was awaiting for that call or text message from the foster to say she was here. After grabbing some coffee and (admittedly) smoking a lot of cigarettes, I sat on my stoop with my mask on. 15 minutes pass by, and I see the foster and Valley trotting down the block. The foster said her goodbyes to Valley, she and I exchanged elbows and Instagram handles, and she left — Valley is officially in my care.
I loved the name Valley, but I named Nico after the singer. I wanted to continue that trend, so I wanted to name this dog after Dusty Springfield.
So everyone, please welcome Dusty Valley Doggerton.
Dusty’s been really good so far, and she loves running around the backyard. Her appetite is okay, and she’s still unsure about treats. Curious about my neighborhood and her new home, we’ve been taking long walks so she can get acclimated with all the sounds and scents. My local coffee shop is dog-friendly and open for takeout, so each morning she’s greeted by my baristas and given treats and ear/neck scratches (I feel bad that they have to wash their hands each time, especially when it gets busy in this pandemic). Dusty loves people and always tries to go up to them, but she really loves to meet other dogs: each time a dog passes by on our walks, Dusty lays down and waits for them to come say hello.
Her energy is still at puppy-level, but she remains relatively calm and independent. I’m currently reinstating my pet insurance, and I’m going to take her to my old vet for her first checkup. I don’t even know how it’ll work considering no one is allowed to go inside the building, but it’s best to get all her preventative medications now.
Sure, these times are so fucking weird and so fucking stressful, and I hope Dusty gets used to all the social-distancing of others and me wearing a mask all the time. I hope we, as people, get through this fucking horrible and unpredictable year together, but at least now I can take solace that once again, I have a companion.