My Puppy, Myself

Photo by Jason Diamond

At Curbed, Jason Diamond reflects on the early, difficult days with Max, the anxious rescue dog he and his wife adopted shortly after they were married. For a while, Max and his alpha attitude toward other dogs caused trouble between his owners and their neighbors in their Brooklyn apartment building. Looking back, Diamond understands where Max’s anxieties came from and realizes how much they were, and are, alike.

Max had a hard life before we adopted him as an adult. It was clear from his constant fear and anxiety that a previous owner had neglected and abused him. At three, he had no commands or socialization. It took months for us to get him to learn “sit,” even with training classes. If I had to guess, he was rarely, if ever, walked with a leash.

And he has no idea how to interact. He cries, whimpers, and sometimes growls, making other dog owners think maybe letting my dog meet theirs isn’t the hottest idea. From Max’s perspective, he must meet every other dog. Every butt not smelled is a missed opportunity. And when I stop to talk with somebody? Max gives me maybe 30 seconds, and then unleashes a series of barks that are the loudest I’ve heard from a smaller dog that isn’t a beagle.

My dog can be terrible, but when you take a dog that somebody else didn’t want into your home, you’re offering your open heart to the baggage that comes with them. And I guess, in a lot of ways, he’s just like me. His enemies are mine. And unfortunately, we’d made more than our fair share in our neighborhood.

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