I know this might be dangerous territory that I’m getting into here—talking about my dog, Mekko. The internet is a funny place, and I get the sense that posting about the specifics of my dog-parenting might be a lot like if I were to post about parenting a real child: everybody thinks they’re an expert and everybody thinks they know what’s best.
That said, I was completely blown away by the outpouring of love and support I received after I posted about Mekko for the first time. And it didn’t just come from the wonderful crowd who already read my blog, but also from people who stumbled upon that post from so many places around the internet and took the time to leave a friendly comment or pen a kind e-mail. To be honest, I expected a really mixed reaction. People have enough opinions about dogs in general—who should own them, where they should live, how they should be cared for—leaving aside all the flack I anticipated receiving for adopting a Pit Bull. But, as with some other things that I’ve posted and readied myself for attack, the onslaught never came. All of this is my roundabout, awkward way of saying thank you. Thank you for making this a fun, kind place on an internet where fun, kind places are rare.
And now, without further delay, here’s what people wanted to know about my baby.
1. My question is, how’s Mekko doing? Has she been a good dog? Have you been doing much training or taking any classes?
Deciding to dedicate the next decade or so of your life to something that you’ve spent all of about 5 minutes with is a pretty scary thing, particularly when that something could potentially chew apart all your furniture, piss all over everything, or maul your face off while you sleep. Luckily, Mekko has chosen to do none of these things. She’s a great dog. Apparently pessimism is a central theme in my life, but I think I was pretty realistic about how hard things might be, and she’s just made the transition into dog ownership miraculously easy. She is incredibly sweet and affectionate, loves people and other dogs, and has enough energy to be hilarious and interesting but not so much (as the above picture might demonstrate) that she’s totally draining us, either. We’ve had her just over two months now, and it’s really been amazing to watch her come into her own. I don’t want to overdramatize here—she didn’t come to us super emotionally damaged or anything—but she is a different dog than she was when we brought her home that first day. They aren’t drastic changes, but a series of subtle ones. She’s put on weight and looks healthy. She’s less anxious. She seems more confident. And she seems really happy.
One of the many great things about Mekko is that she really wants to be a good dog, which has made training fairly easy. So far, we’ve really been working on developing and strengthening basic skills. It took about 3 weeks to get her 100% potty-trained, she’s gotten really great at walking on the leash (which was a nightmare when we got her), she’s a champ at sitting on command, and she learned her name really quickly. I’d like to start building up certain things she already knows and start teaching her new commands, and I think she’ll pick them up quickly. I’ve been told many times how valuable classes are, but we haven’t taken any yet. We may choose to in the future, but right now I think we’re all still adjusting to our new lives and it just hasn’t felt like a pressing concern.
And, yes. She is allowed on all the furniture. Deal with it.
2. What are the ups and downs of owning a Pit Bull?
Now, I have had dogs my whole life, and have loved all of them to a degree that non-dog-owners probably can’t understand. But Mekko is different, and I don’t think I just feel that way because she’s mine (well, and Max’s, but you know). I’ve never owned a Pit Bull—my family had 2 Labs and a Golden Retriever/Doberman mix growing up—but I’ve been told that some of Mekko’s attributes are pretty characteristic of Pit Bulls, so here it goes. Mekko loves to cuddle. She would cuddle all day, everyday. She is a fabulous little spoon and snores like a heavyset man, and it’s amazing. And she’s so warm. Aside from that, she is really social, and basically wants to be friends with every dog and every person she comes into contact with. It’s nice having a dog like that—this little social butterfly who makes me talk to people, too. I’ve met so many great dog owners and other dogs in the neighborhood, and it’s fun running into all our new friends all the time. And more than any other breed, Pit Bull owners really feel this strong allegiance with other Pit Bull owners. There are sidewalk love-fests several times a week.
I really think the hardest part of owning a Pit Bull is dealing with the stigma. It’s never been terribly aggressive or violent or anything, and I’m sure it hurts my feelings much more than it hurts hers. But it’s sad to see other dog owners decide to cross the street rather than risk passing us, or people who scoop up their kids and scowl. Or be told at the dog park that she’s not allowed to play with a dog because the other owner is afraid of her. People feel the need to tell me on the sidewalk that my dog bites—not as a question, but as an accusation or a statement of fact. Really? When? Mekko doesn’t want to bite these people, but I do.
The point is this: ALL DOGS CAN HAVE BEHAVIORAL ISSUES. Plain and simple. And every dog owner should be prepared to deal with that, regardless of whether you’re adopting a Pit Bull or a Chihuahua. It’s about being able to address a problem when it arises, being open to seeking out advice and exploring resources, and being willing to changing your own behavior to suit the needs of your dog.
3. How has being a dog owner changed your life—good and bad? How do you get anything done when she’s around?
Mekko makes us incredibly happy, and we love her to pieces. I’m not one of those people who overly anthropomorphizes my dog, but I feel like Mekko really changed our relationship. When there’s two in your group it’s called a couple, but three—three feels like a family. It’s a weird word, and I still feel a little awkward applying it to a unit that’s different than the one I share with my siblings and parents. But I think that’s the only word for it.
I really don’t think Mekko has changed my life in any bad ways, but she has made my life different in many ways. Broadly, she’s a big thing to take care of, and even split between two people, she’s a big time commitment. The hardest part hasn’t been learning to take care of her, but learning how to keep doing the other things in my life while also making room for her needs. Full-time-student-with-part-time-job-and-relationship-and-dog-and-blog-and-hopefully-some-modicum-of-social-life still feels like an intimidatingly large pair of shoes to fill, and I’m definitely still trying to negotiate that new terrain. I think it’s getting easier, but I still feel like I’ve become somewhat unproductive and less competent in the other areas of my life. I have to keep reminding myself how new this all is and work on continuing to figure out how to balance my life and responsibilities.
6. What’s the most hilarious thing she does (because Pit Bulls are such comedians)?
I don’t even know where to start. Mekko makes me laugh constantly. She really likes to walk herself up to our 5th-floor apartment and waits for us at all the landings. When she sees another dog approaching from half a block away, she lies down on the sidewalk and wags her tail until they approach. She LOVES this one squeaky toy and only understands tennis balls as objects from which all the fuzz must be forcibly and methodically removed. That new Taylor Swift song produces an immediate calming effect on her. She’s taken to sleeping on the couch some nights, but she’ll wake up early and come get her morning cuddle time in bed, which isn’t so much hilarious as it is heart-stoppingly cute.
7. Will Mamma Biscuit and Mekko ever meet? And if so, will Mekko eat her?
I think Mamma Biscuit and Mekko would get along because they’re both hot NYC bitches who love their dads. Natural pair.