Monday, August 17, 2009

Dulce, the Wall-Breaking Wonder Puppy

One thing that all of my friends know about me is that I'm a bleeding heart when it comes to people and animals that need a roof over their heads. I was lucky enough to buy a fantastic big house in the city last year and have had people coming and going ever since. I acquired five new housemates in one week! My one housemate's sister and her baby needed a place to stay to get some money together for a while. So the sister's are in the master bedroom and the baby is in my studio. My close friend Brian is a dancer who just recently relocated from California to NYC but business is slow in the ballroom world over the Summer so he's staying on the couch and waiting tables till he can get money together and get back to NYC to start teaching dance again. Lindsea is a student going for her Master's at Penn State and living here for a few years to do that. She's from Michigan. So that makes seven humans (all listed including me and my two original housemates.) My favorite new addition is of the furry nature.

So I've always hated Pitbulls. They've scared the Bejesus out of me because of all the bad rap they get. I've known people that have been attacked by them and dogs that have been attacked by them. I grew up with a Miniature Schnauzer. I'm not a Pitbull type of girl. I seriously started looking into adopting a Greyhound.

Nadine is a dog-trainer, vet technician, and works part time at PetCo. The second day she had been living in the house, she called me at work and explained to me about a puppy that had been brought into her Vet's office. He was malnourished, skinny, and his feet were almost raw from running the streets. A man brought him in saying that he was found walking along the streets of York without a collar or a visible owner. Nadine said he was "brindle" which I had no idea what that was. (It's the tiger-stripes or speckles in a coat.) I asked what breed he was and my stomach sank when she said he was mostly a Pitbull. I couldn't have a Pit in my house. No way. But she said he was a puppy and he wouldn't stay, just long enough for her to get him into a healthy state so he could get adopted and he was only four months. I made sure she understood it was only a TEMPORARY time for him. We were not keeping him. I wanted a Greyhound.

I got home that day from an exhausting day at work (as most of them have been recently) and walked in the door. Down on the floor was a little squirmy white and tan puppy playing with Nadine's daughter. He was more beautiful that I imagined when she described him. He was almost to the point of emaciated and his eyes were red and crusty and his farts cleared the room because he had just been living on trash. I fell in love anyway. He looked up, wagged his tail at me and came over to be petted. I was a goner. We let him rest and sleep the first night for more hours than seems possible for a dog but he knew he was safe now so he just crashed without the fear of being attacked by another street dog or even possibly being beaten by a person. The next few nights we walked him down by the river. One night I took him to Happy Tails Dog Park and that's when I knew I wanted to keep him. He would be playing with other dogs but if I called for him, he came to me right away. He was mine. I talked to Nadine the other morning before work and we finalized it that I was keeping him.

The name Dulce was actually the fifth or sixth name we came up with. Nadine wanted to name him Malachi but I said I didn't want him to share the name with every boy-child under the age of 5 running around in churches. Needed something more creative. I suggested Figaro after the Barber of Seville (my favorite opera) until we realized that his nickname "Figa" would not sound very politically correct if we yelled it through my neighborhood in which we're the only white people. If you don't get it, say the name out loud a few times and just see what it sounds like. We tried "Chai" and "Socha" but neither just jumped for us. Being a cook, I wanted something to do with food for his name and then it struck me while we were walking. "You know what he looks like?" I asked my housemates. They both looked at me waiting for the absurd answer. "Dulce de Leche ice cream!!!" They had no idea what I was talking about. So, first I had to describe to them what Dulce de Leche ice cream was, the flavors, and what it looked like. "We should name him Dulce" We tried it out on him for the rest of the walk (about five miles) and I liked it immediately. So from then on, he was Dulce. The best part about the name is that it means "Sweet" in Spanish and Italian. (dulce de leche means "the sweetness of milk") In Spanish the c makes an S sound but in the Italian pronunciation it's "dul-che". It's a great name for him to listen for. Plus, I hope that for the sake of all the Pitbulls that he can live up to his name and prove that he is a sweet boy instead of a killer.

In a matter of two days, Dulce broke down all of my walls, fears, and concerns about Pitbulls. I've been researching like crazy and there is nothing proving that they will turn on someone if they are trained properly. Luckily for me, I have a dog-trainer living in my house.

As I sit here on my computer, researching natural ways to remove the smell out of carpet so they don't into the habit of peeing where they live (he was used to it from living in the trash), I have a little curled up ball of ice cream right at my feet. He's tuckered out still from playing with another dog for three hours nonstop last night. Every now and then he lifts his head and licks my ankle just to remind me that he's there. But how could I forget? So instead of me looking for a dog, my dog found me. The Universe is a crazy bitch.

Here is my new project: