Abused Dogs

2:00am: Avery woke me with a whine. He wanted to go out.
I had let him out just before bed and he just stood there, waiting to come back in. I told him, “I’m not going to let you out if you wake me up tonight.” Of course this was a false claim. I’d rather get out of bed than have to clean up a mess. Aside from that, my love for him would have made it difficult for me to know he was in pain and not do anything.
I walked to the door and opened it. I stood there in my underwear, leaning against the door.
Avery and I had an arrangement: I would let him out without a leash and he would stay on the area of grass just outside our apartment. He had done this many times before.
This time, he walked quickly toward the parking lot. I whistled and called him, but he did not turn. I lost site of him as he went behind a car.
I figured he saw something of interest and would return soon. A few minutes later, I called him. No response. I called again and got nothing.
I went back inside and gathered my clothes from the floor. I would go out in his pursuit.
As I dressed, I considered how far he might have gotten if his pace maintained the entire time I was waiting on him. I decided I should use the car in my pursuit.
I sat down in the car, closed my door, and began driving the parking lot. “He could have already made it to the end and gone through the walkway that led to the next complex and eventually the street.”
I left the complex for the street and complex next door. Circling the block, I saw a few dark human figures in the parking lots surrounding my complex, but no Avery.
I began thinking about his motivation. I hadn’t fed him that evening. He had already eaten an entire loaf of bread and half a bag of cereal that night. I had tried to put my food out of his reach, but he managed to reach the upper shelves of the cupboard that day.
Perhaps it was the way I had disciplined him. When I got home from work and saw the remnants of my food on the floor, I was met with a rather apologetic look. This was not the first time this week he had gotten into my food.
If he were a human child, I would’ve tried to reason with him: make him understand how there were not a lot of options for food in the apartment and his eating my bread and cereal meant I had to make a trip to the store. But he was a dog.
I turned him onto his back, sat on him, and popped him a few times on the nose. I didn’t hit him hard, I just wanted him to know I was unhappy about his actions. For good measure, I smacked him a few times with the half empty bag of cereal. Again, I didn’t hit him hard. I just wanted him to relate his punishment with his crime.
Perhaps I had gone too far. It is difficult to discipline a child with a history of abuse. One finds it difficult to know when the child understands the punishment and when he relates it to his history of abuse.
There is a kid in my program at work who has a history of abuse. He is quick to apologize, but repeats the undesired actions at every turn. This makes his apologies seem insincere. Then again, perhaps his apologies are his way of saying, “Please don’t hit me.”
Was Avery leaving me for his own good? Surely I would be more gentile with him in the future if I could find him. I felt guilty.
I didn’t realize at the time, but believe this had a lot to do with my friend, Peace. She had stayed with my significant other and me for several months before I was told by my significant other that I was to give Peace an ultimatum. She was to find a job and start paying rent or get out. I did not deliver my girlfriend’s ultimatum. I, instead, asked what her progress was when it came to finding a job. When she reported that she had an interview and would likely start work soon, I gave a sigh of relief. I explained the situation with my significant other, but reassured Peace that I would not give her an ultimatum. A week or so later, Peace was fired from her sales job for being “too nice”. She left a note on the dresser explaining how she had left our house, making herself homeless.
Had I treated the situation incorrectly? I didn’t have to mention my girlfriend’s ultimatum. I was never going to deliver it anyway. I should have stood up for my friend. I should have made my girlfriend understand that, although I put her happiness before mine most of the time, this was an issue on which I would not be so easygoing. I’ve since lost contact with Peace. She used to stand in front of the Capitol building, dressed as the Statue of Liberty. I drive by regularly, but don’t see her anymore.
After 10 minutes of searching for Avery, I decided it was best for me to return home. “He might have already returned and is waiting on me. If not, he has my phone number on his tag and I can always make fliers for him in the morning.”
I pulled into my spot. No Avery.
I laid down in my bed and began planning my life without Avery. There would no longer be a need to return home immediately after work. Not that I had anywhere to be. There would be no more late night walks.
I looked out my bedroom window several times when I heard something I thought might have been Avery. I soon decided it was best to sleep and not respond to every sound.
I awoke around 6:00am to the sound of a single whine just outside my front door. I opened the door and Avery looked up at me with that same apologetic look: squinted eyes, small posture, all of the signs he was expecting me to hit him – to really hit him.
I let him in and bent over to rub his ears. The tips were cold.
I told him to go to bed and I laid back down. I held my hand over the edge of the bed and petted his head. He licked my hand lovingly. I eventually decided it was time for sleep and stopped petting him. He laid down next to the bed. With my hand hanging over the edge of the bed, I felt him raise his head one last time to lick my hand twice before resting again: “I love you, Dad.”

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