My name is Alyssa, and I am the proud mom of the wrong dog.
This may sound confusing, as the idea of celebrating something “wrong” is a strange concept to most. Let me rewind to a couple years ago, where I fell in love with the dog I never wanted.
In 2014, I was a young college student with too much on my plate. Lectures, projects, exams, friends, relationships, bills, etc. I was overworked beyond belief. But, somehow, in the back of my mind, I heard a voice saying “you need a dog.” I’d always had pets. Growing up on a farm filled with animals of all shapes and sizes, I knew the dedication it took to raise and train a living thing. I knew that, with my final quarter of school just around the corner, adding more responsibility could potentially break me. For some reason, the risk was worth the reward.
“What if I just got a small dog?” I’d ask myself. My boyfriend was not enthused by the idea, but eventually realized that my relentless research and crazed web surfing wouldn’t end until I had a pup to call my own. He began browsing as well. We researched breeds, looking for something specifically under 25 lb, due to the current rental market discriminating against anything larger. We wanted something short haired, but not a chihuahua. Something with energy, but not a terrier. Something unique, but not expensive.
We scoured newspapers, magazines, social media, and breeding websites for weeks (clearly before we were introduced to the wonderful world of non-profit rescues), as well as our local SPCA. We were convinced that a French bulldog, our dream dog, would be the perfect fit for our home. After looking high and low for one in our price range, we had pretty much given up.
I was struggling with school at the time, and the sheer weight of being alive was becoming too much for me. I was devastated at the thought of never finding my dream dog, and started to spend my free time lying in bed, looking at pictures on the internet. It was fairly pathetic, to say the least. I was obsessed.
One day, my boyfriend walked into the room and said “Alyssa, you need to get out of bed. I found some puppies online and they are nearby. Why don’t we just go look?” I immediately perked up, got dressed, and ran to the car. I had no idea what was in store for me.
We arrived at an old house in a less than desirable neighborhood. The ground was dusty and I could see a large chain link enclosure at the side of the yard. There was a kiddy pool nearby filled with murky water. We walked up to the front door, where we were met by a kind man. He showed us around the property, and lead us to the chain link fence. Inside the pen were eight dusty puppies.
They weren’t at all what I had imagined. They were already six pounds large, had wide faces, and droopy ears. I immediately recognized that they were larger breed dogs, but it didn’t matter. I was just there to look, right?
I asked what they were, and the man said two words that caught me off guard. “Pit bulls.”
I had never had much contact with pit bulls, nor had I ever expected to like them. I believed the negative stereotypes and the hype surrounding bully breeds. I was afraid of them. These were not the dogs for me.
I wanted to go home and research small, appropriate dogs, but something convinced me to stay. I looked over at the dirt covered puppies, and noticed one crawling around on his own, away from the pack. I picked him up and sat him down in my lap, where he started to fall asleep. And, from that moment on, he had my heart.
It’s been almost two years since that day, and I am grateful every moment that I fell in love with the wrong dog. I had become so obsessed with the idea that I needed a perfect puppy, that I overlooked the whole reason behind getting one. I wanted a dog, so I could care for him and love him unconditionally. It didn’t matter what breed he was, or how much he weighed. All that mattered was that he was happy and healthy.
My dog may not be under 25 lbs or purebred. He sheds like crazy, steals my blankets, and isn’t exactly trendy. He’s not perfect, and he never will be, but that’s alright with me. He introduced me to a different side of the dog world, which now makes up a major part of my life. One that values the dog himself rather than what he is on paper. He showed me the dedicated community of dog rescue, and even helped me work up the courage to rescue another.
So, here I am today. A proud mom of the wrong dog, with a little word of advice. The right dog is the one you love, and the one who loves you too.
Photo by: Alyssa Lynn Castle