I rescued Bette from the Williamson County Animal Center. It was the summer of 2016 and I was 27, living in the upstairs room of my dad’s house in Tennessee writing a book. And although I was a little unsure of where I wanted to move, who I wanted to be, and what exactly I was doing with my life, the moment my eyes met Bette’s, I did know one thing: she was mine.
I took her home that afternoon and was certain this cute little tan and white dog with the overbite was going to be everything I needed her to be. I thought I’d found the perfect dog! The best dog! I even began planning our future together. We’d move to California and sit outside trendy coffee shops in LA. She’d travel with me on adventures, love people unconditionally, and help me make new friends. Perhaps I’d even bring her on my book tour! Or on a plane!
Little did I know that Bette had an agenda of her own. And the first thing on it was to teach me about managing my expectations…
I didn’t know I had rescued a somewhat unfriendly four-legged friend. That when strangers would ask to pet her, I’d have to tell them no. I didn’t know I was bringing a dog with serious anxiety into my life, and that I could kiss my dreams of doggy book tours and plane rides and cafe dates goodbye because my new canine was so out of control that I could hardly walk her around the neighborhood. I almost felt like I’d been tricked…
But that’s how it happened.
And even though my new dog is not what I’d call “easy” to take care of, I refuse to give up on her. And after a lot of training (and patience and persistence and even doggy boot camp), I have learned that Bette’s behavioral issues are rooted in fear, and she can get past them. She doesn’t want to bark and lunge at every stranger on the sidewalk. She’s only scared. So, now it’s my goal to prove to Bette that the world is not such a scary place, and I’ll give you one guess how I’m doing it..
A Bucket List! Duh. And guess what? It’s actually working! The more Bette ventures out into the world and crosses things off her list, the less anxious she is. Sure, we’re taking it one adventure at a time, but as I watch Bette let go of fears about the world, I am reminded that I am capable of the same. Here’s a few of my favorite things on Bette’s bucket list. Does your pooch have a bucket list?
1. Jump on hotel beds
2. Learn that humans are not chewtoys
3.Visit a waterfall
4. Eat ice cream
5. Learn to sit
6. Stick head out the window
7. Road trip on Route 66
8. Eat french fries
9. Go for hikes in Griffith Park without barking at anyone
10. Go to Joshua Tree and pretend we are cowgirls
11. Meet an Elephant seal
12. Make a new human friend (She has 5 human friends right now! And the list is growing daily!)
13. Go to a dog party
14. Watch the sunset at Runyon Canyon
15. Spray paint our names at Cadillac Ranch
16. Stay at Chateau Marmont (Or The Chateau Mar-mutt, if you will.)
17. Eat room service by the pool
18. Graduate training school
19. Graduate another training school
20. And another training school…
21. Get lots of hugs
22. Snuggle in bed
23. Help mom pick up cute surfers
24. Go shopping
25. Go to the beach
26. Help mom with work
26. Remind mom to go outside every day