I had a boyfriend who treated me like his pet. He spoke of affection but showed a very minimal amount. He went out and pet other dogs, sometimes told them he loved them while I sat at home and waited at the door. It wasn’t all bad because the seconds of affection seemed worth the hours of waiting. He got me a collar one Christmas that had our names engraved, and I imagined the New Year would bring a leash to attach to my new collar. It never came, and I still waited at the door.
It felt like forever since I went outside and felt the warm summer breeze against my face. I couldn’t remember what freedom felt like or the fortifying feeling of my paws against the nearby gravel path. I barely saw my friends because I was never outside and eventually I lost all contact with the outside world. All because I never wanted to leave the door unguarded, just in case he came home.
Occasions were never celebrated, and treats were never given. Lies were all my floppy ears heard and cries for help were mended with silence. I told all the other dogs that it was great. I acted like he never left the house without me and I was gifted treats whenever I pleased. I lied, but I believed my lies so it wasn’t too bad. The only thing was, the whole dog park knew about my owner’s deceit, except me.
I began going crazy, sitting in the same spot, waiting for the same man every day. My hair was unkempt and matted, almost dreadlock-like, but he didn’t notice. I was purposely disobedient, so he would give me attention, even if it was the bad kind. Sometimes I’d go to the spots where he would hang out, like the soccer field, but I was ignored or made a fool in front of his other owner friends. My emotions became a roulette board, and I flew from sadness to anger with one quick spin. My family and friends couldn’t handle me, and I began believing everyone was out to get me. I started spinning out of control.
After three years of the waiting game, I had enough, I stopped waiting for the doors creak and threatened to run away. He opened the door for me, and a month later, I saw another dogs face in his window, waiting for him to come home. It hurt, a lot. I was good friends with his new dog, so I felt betrayed by both, so out of spite, I kept letting him pet me while she waited at home. I didn’t like it, but I was a stray who would do anything for a scratch behind the ear. I’d see them go for walks; it hurt a lot. I cried a lot. Whimpered helplessly without a means of communication because nobody understood me.
Even after letting him play with me in secret, he treated me very cruelly; called me a bad dog and told me that his new one was better, more obedient. The pain heightened and my emotions were out of control. Out of double spite, I told her that he still pet me, while she waited for him. She said that I was a stray and all he did was speak poorly of me. He told her that I followed him home and begged for affection, but he kicked me away. I felt empty; it was betrayal wrapped up in betrayal, swallowed by more betrayal.
It spread around the entire dog park. I was known as the spiteful bitch who couldn’t keep her paws off other people’s relationships. I got into disgraceful habits I will never forgive myself to this day, just to block out the deceit because only I knew the truth. Other dogs looked at me with disgust. I felt alone, but I still thought about my owner. I still thought about the good instead of the bad. I wondered why I held onto the good because it wasn’t good. I had an altered perspective of what good was because I never felt better than what he confined me to. I went crazy and met other owners. I went for walks and got affection, but only for a day or so, then I’d wake up at the edge of the bed alone. I still thought about my owner.
It took me many years to realize I don’t need a door to wait at, or an owner for affection. I realized that I could walk on my hind legs and turn the knob by myself. Yes, it was difficult to grow the strength and take the first step on a pair of legs confined to sitting and waiting, but the outcome was a whole new perspective. What was once a black and white view turned into an array of fluorescent colours. I don’t need a collar or a leash because I have freedom to walk different routes while always making it home safe. I turned into a person who only relies solely on themselves for happiness instead of waiting for their happiness to walk through the door.
I can walk past his house and smile at the dog’s face in the window.