My heart is confused.

I thought about her nearly every day; a puppy, hit by a car in October, was in TUAPA’s care. I texted Johanna, the lead TUAPA volunteer, once every few weeks asking if she had any updates. Did the puppy make it? Was she okay?

I kept this picture open in one of my Firefox tabs for a month. I had it saved on my iPod. I was a little obsessive.

I met the puppy in late January. There was something about her, something that made me want to take her home. It was ludicrous; I lived on the third floor of a house on a narrow, incredibly busy one-way street. My lifestyle, my house, my situation was quite possibly the most difficult combination for having a dog, let alone a mobility-challenged puppy.

However, some puppies and dogs don’t survive the winter at the TUAPA shelter. Taiwan’s winters are unkind to those without four walls and a roof. Fearing for her survival, I texted Johanna a couple of days after meeting the puppy. “I want her.”

I’m petting her with my left hand. Hundreds of dogs around me, and I focused on her.

Two weeks later, and this nine-month-oldish lab mix is now named Charlotte. She has stolen my heart and changed my world. I love her. From her soft ears to the line across her head where her fur changes from black to mahogany; from her excited puppy prance to her thick tail whipping back and forth; from her penchant for eating things that will make a rude reappearance later to her groan every time I pick her up to take her up or down the stairs. I love her.

It’s because I love her that I need to find her a better home.

With those ears, she can listen to your thoughts.

Charlotte would thrive, would absolutely conquer the world, if she had a home with another dog (or two… or fifty) and a yard. She loves other dogs. LOVES. Tail thumping, she approaches other dogs like I might approach Jeremy Renner – with stars in her eyes and the urge to rush up and lick them. Other dogs have growled, snarled, barked, and tried to bite her, but she joyfully regards them with love. She doesn’t growl back. She just wants to play. I had to pick her up and drag her away from two large, imposing male strays that had ill intentions for her. “But Mandy!” I imagined her saying, “they looked so friendly!”

Yes, it’s weird lighting, but she really does have a line between her ears where her fur abruptly changes color.

She is a puppy, through and through. We’re working on not chewing my slippers or peeing in the house, though she has never gone number two inside. No matter what, she holds it… just not number one. But she’s learning. I think the lack of easily-accessible bathroom space has something to do with it.

This may have been just before she sniffed my Sprite bottle and spilled it on my former MacBook. That’s why I haven’t posted many pictures. These are all from my iPhone. I still don’t have a laptop.

We go on two walks every day, one in the morning before I go to work, the other just before bed. She sees me grab the leash and she hops over to me and lets me slip it over her head. Charlotte enjoys our walks, even when there are scooters and cars zipping past, lawnmowers, caged dogs growling and barking, cats running amock, fireworks exploding everywhere, kids screaming nearby.

Our morning walk was exhausting, apparently. She passed out on top of Monkey.

She fears leaf blowers, though – at least she did when she first encountered one. Her reaction was to try to scamper behind a nearby car. The next time it passed, she was a little less terrified, but she still stood behind me in case it attacked.

Charlotte is incredible. And that’s why I’m sad, and slightly confused, as to why it’s not supposed to work out for the two of us. My role is not supposed to be Permanent Caregiver. My role is Foster Caregiver, and I need to find her a loving place that will help her become a joyful, healthy, strong dog.

The amount of jealousy I have for her future family probably needs to be addressed in therapy.

There are fireworks exploding within a block of the house on every corner, the dog outside is howling, but she’s done for the night.

If you know of the perfect home, no matter where it is, I’ll get her there. With help from TUAPA, I’ll do all the hard work to get her exactly where she needs to be. I just need help finding her Forever Home.

The day I send her Home is the day I’m going to ugly-cry like only trained professionals have ever seen. It’s going to be bad for me, but it’s going to be incredible for her.

4 comments

  1. Great writing Mandy, thank you. My partner is the passenger bringing Charlotte over to Seattle I think…we will be fostering another dog. It’s a great Taiwan dog community here. Charlotte will be in good hands.

    1. Angela and her family, the ones taking in (newly Christened) Nalla, are incredible. I couldn’t ask for a better family for such a sweet puppy.

      Thanks to both you and your partner for everything you’ve done for the dogs. I can now attest to how hard it is to let go of an animal you’ve brought into your home. You’re total godsends!

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