I haven’t written anything for a while. I’ll sit at my laptop, stare at the screen, and nothing produces. I’ve run out of things to say. That’s probably not true, but my focus is off. I can’t concentration on one single thing long enough to make sense of it. If you’ve ever had a conversation with me you know this to be true. I’ll be talking about one thing, and fall into a tangent I don’t know how to get myself out of. ‘Wait, what was I talking about again?’ Anyway, that’s the reason I haven’t updated. I need to start making a list of topics. I’ll be walking down the street and have a stream of thoughts that end up lost in translation as they are quickly forgotten as I move through the day.
That first paragraph literally has NOTHING to do with the rest of this. So you see my point, right? Moving on… I am obsessed with the Facebook, ‘On This Day,’ feature. I’ll check it everyday, and only occasionally do I cringe at things I wrote, or the pictures that somehow got posted over the years. Over the last few days though, all of my ‘On This Day,’ posts have been about Billie. I brought Billie Jean Villa home eight years ago last week. I was 25. In 2009 over the Forth of July weekend I was sitting around bullshitting with my family at a BBQ. As my family arrived at my parents house my aunt walked in and noted the absence of her son, ‘JJ isn’t coming, he just got a new dog and he’s a puppy so he stayed home with him.’ Later that afternoon I approached his sister, ‘let’s go see Auto.’ A puppy at eight weeks is sleepy and tiny, and as this little creature sat on my lap I looked at my cousins, ‘I want one.’ My cousin Bri replied, ‘Well go get one… there’s two others. Want me to ask if you could go see them?’ ‘Yes!’
I had been living near UIC at the time, and it was a few years after graduating college. Getting a dog felt like such an adult thing to do, and at the time, I felt like I was an adult. I was wrong, but I wouldn’t figure that out till years later. I rushed home to tell my parents about it –my mom was pretty supportive. She knew I had wanted to get a dog for a while, and had even gone to look at a few with me. My dad wasn’t so quick to hop on the support train… Dogs are a lot of work and you’re too irresponsible. You’re never home. I’m allergic to dogs, so don’t think you can just bring over here. It’ll make a mess, and I’m not going to be out there cleaning up the yard. Of course I took a minute to really take in what he was saying, and than I ignored it and decided to listen to the parent that agreed with me. My moms only request, ‘get the female… the males are stupid.’ She had one bad experience with one male dog…
A few days later I went to visit, and based on my moms advice immediately focused my attention on the girl. I wish I could remember more about that first visit, and why exactly I did choose the puppy I did, maybe it was my mom, or maybe it was just meant to be. Either way, I paid the $50, and told them I would be back to pick her up a few days later. I went back to my parents’ house that night, and my mom and I drove to Target to pick-up what we thought were the necessaries for someone bringing home a puppy. Food and water bowls, a leash, a collar, dog toys, food, puppy snacks, etc. Two days later I went to pick her up, and bring her to her new home.
Amanda went with me to get her. She had just moved back home from college, and was just as excited as me. Before we even picked her up Amanda had planned on just going with me back to my apartment because she wanted to hangout with the puppy. Before heading back to my apartment I stopped by parents house so they could meet her. This little seven pound eight week old puppy, just gliding around the floor, scared, and timid, and still occasionally losing her balance as she mastered this whole walking thing. The three of us sat on the floor as Billie Jean made her way around the room slowly walking to each of us. My dad, still adamant about the decision I had made, sort of ignored all of it. As I was getting ready to leave, Amanda said she would probably just stay home and not come back to the city with me, ‘No. Just come back with me.’ It was in that moment I realized I was terrified. I had never had a dog before, and all the pets I did have growing up either died shortly after I got them, or were given away because I lost interest or was scared of them. I didn’t know anything about having a dog let alone a puppy.
The car ride home she trembled the whole time, and at my apartment she was unsure of her surroundings, and I was unsure of her. Amanda stayed up with her after I crawled into bed. She woke me up shortly after because Billie had an accident in the apartment and she was not about to clean it up. It was the first time I picked up dog shit. That was eight years ago, and that is hard to believe. I didn’t know how to raise a dog, but over the last eight years I have learned little by little, and had lots of help along the way. The first week I had her I asked my friend Christy to dogsit for me while I was at work, ‘Don’t give her any human food, I’m trying to avoid from doing that.’ I text Christy a lot that day, and when I got home Christy proudly proclaimed, ‘I thought her to sit, and give high-fives.’ ‘Oh my god… that’s amazing. How did you do that?’ ‘Oh, Henry… let’s just say she likes cheese….’
Over the last eight years Billie Jean and I have grown together. She’s my little buddy. The first week I had her I tried to crate train her, I was going to be that kind of pet owner. A few nights in, she was crying and barking in her crate, clearly upset. I woke up, opened the door, and she sprinted to my bedroom, jumped on the bed, stared at me with those puppy dog eyes, and has never slept in a crate again. Eight years has gone by quickly, and every time I come home to her it’s still the best part of my day. She isn’t really a fan of cuddling at night, she likes her space, but sometimes, if it’s been a rough day for me, I’ll scoop her up, and lay her right under my arm. She will take a deep breath, lay her head on my chest, and settle in. She knows.
Anyway, I could go on and on about her, and how much having her has changed my life for the best. However, this post is probably long enough… the point is, if you’re questioning whether you should or shouldn’t get a dog, or if you’re able to handle it, all I can say is I didn’t think I could eight years ago. It was one of the better decisions I made. Also, my dad, who strongly opposed of the dog adoption, is now madly obsessed with her. Follow him on Snapchat… it’s basically Billie’s personal account. I bet we’re both glad I took my moms advice…