A few days ago was my Emma’s 13th birthday! What’s this now? You don’t celebrate your dog’s birthday? Wow. Sad. Can’t relate.
Me on the other hand? Oh I’m gonna turn up! (I watch a lot of TikTok, please disregard me trying to sound young)
Sometime in June of 2010 I became the proud owner to a weird & kinda strange looking miniature schnauzer (I’ll explain this in a minute because she’s definitely still weird but certainly not strange looking) Within just a few months I became mom. By the following year, I was batshit crazy.
So in honor of my girl, let’s go back to 2010 & up to present day for some of my favorite Emma stories.
In 2010 I was living in Charlotte, NC with my ex and needed some companionship while he worked so we began to wonder about bringing one of his English bulldogs to Charlotte. He had 2 wonderful bulldogs that he’d left in West Virginia with his parents when we moved. They agreed to bring us the boy bulldog & the day he arrived he (the bulldog) had a panic attack, spent the day throwing up, paced around our apartment, couldn’t rest, & even after a dose of Benadryl STILL wouldn’t calm down…my ex’s parents packed him up & took him back to West Virginia because he was clearly not cut out for Charlotte life. We were back to square one on finding me a dog until one evening my ex’s mother called & told us that my former hair stylist (who she went to as well) in Kentucky was having to re-home her miniature schnauzer because she’d just moved back in with her parents after a breakup. They (her parents) also had a mini schnauzer who was very old & nearly blind & the puppy (Emma) always wanted to play & needed so much attention that no one could give her so she had to go. We said we’d take her.
I didn’t even know what a Schnauzer was so I had to Google photos of them. I had my ex message her and ask for photos of this new dog we were getting & he was always met with “oh yeah I’ll send you some!” And we never got a single photo. Eventually he even asked a mutual friend of theirs who responded with “oh she is the cutest dog ever! You’ll love her!” But still no photos.
We took off one weekend & made the drive to West Virginia/Kentucky to get our new baby, “Emma”, which I thought was a dumb name & fully planned on changing. We met at his grandparents house & the girl we got her from pulled up in her sporty little red Mercedes. She got out looking very much the quintessential West Virginia Barbie and “the dog” jumped out behind her…she waddled over to us with zero confidence. This damn dog didn’t look anything like what I saw on Google. She looked like one of those dogs in articles on Facebook talkin’ ‘bout “They Thought This Dog Was A Pile Of Trash…Click To See It’s Dramatic Transformation!” – that poor baby had never had a haircut in her 10 months of life. She was so poofy & overgrown. How in the hell can you be a hairdresser and take so much pride in yourself but let your dog look & feel like that? You could just tell this baby didn’t feel good. If she could’ve talked she would’ve said “I’m sorry for wasting your time folks, I’ll be on my way then, thanks for your consideration”
My ex pulled me to the side and said (& I remember this vividly) “How do you tell a person you don’t want their dog because it’s ugly?” Buddy I don’t know but you best figure it out. Anyways, his mom was there & was pulling all the hair back on Emma’s face so we could ,ya know, actually see her face. She was gushing over how cute she was…and ya know what? She did have a cute face under all that hair. And she really was very sweet. So we took her. We were her 3rd home in her short little life of 10 months. And I made a conscious decision that I’d be her last. As soon as we got her to Charlotte, she got groomed. She had so much energy & personality after that! She was no longer timid & quiet as she had been – that’s how I know she didn’t feel good when we first got her. Suddenly she was no longer the girl who bought army pants & flip flops…she went straight to being Regina George.
She had severe separation anxiety & would bark constantly anytime we left. The first time I learned she had an attitude problem was when I’d went to the gym & came back to an absolutely destroyed issue of “In Style” scattered around my living room. There was the time I’d bought all new dishes & Christmas decorations & my ex came home to all of the packaging chewed to bits while Emma just stood beside it like “Yes, yes I did do this” like the little smirking girl by the burning house meme. I know I said I had made a conscious decision to be her last home but there was a time where she and I didn’t get along and after a particularly hard day with her I sat down to write a “Free To Good Home, Just Get This Fucking Demon Out Of My House” post on Facebook –
We had started to keep her in the kitchen while we were at work with a baby gate set up. One day I came home to a bunch of random, weird crumbs all over the living room floor…& quickly discovered she was stealing treats from under the kitchen sink, jumping the gate to eat them in the living room (she likes to enjoy her treats on carpeted areas…still does to this day), & jumping the gate again to go back to the kitchen. Okay…so she got a bigger gate. One day I got to leave work early before Christmas & as I was walking up the steps, I had a thought “wouldn’t that be some shit to walk in on Emma and she’s jumped the big gate and just chillin’ in the living room?” – I opened the front door to a little gray flash!! Emma was running laps around the living room with a Christmas ornament in her mouth. My tree was still upright but she’d pulled all the ribbon off. The trash can in the kitchen was knocked over & scattered everywhere. She’d pulled my cloth napkins (& the dishes displayed on them) off the kitchen table & into the floor. Stuff was everywhere & this little maniac didn’t even notice I’d came home. That was when I lost it – every day it felt like I was cleaning up her messes & she was such an ungrateful brat about it. I went to the kitchen to clean up the trash & had tears coming down my face because she just made me so MAD. She tried to come over & love on me but she smelled like trash and her face was greasy from eating God knows what IN the trash. I began to plot what I would say in my inevitable Facebook post…
“This girl is the nastiest skank bitch I’ve ever met. Do not trust her. She is a fugly slut”
Or something like that.
Anyways, my ex took me to dinner & talked me off the ledge. He also went home & stacked the 2 baby gates on top of each other to make one giant super gate. She never jumped them again. She went onto live another day.
We had more struggles after that. The dog ate anything she possibly could find…one day during a walk I wasn’t paying enough attention & she’d found a random buffalo wing that I (a true germaphobe) had to pry out of her mouth for fear of her keeping me up that night with the shits from the buffalo sauce. I gagged all the way home. During one of our many moves, we stayed with my ex’s parents while he was doing job training. On more than one occasion I’d come home to find that she’d plowed through a loaf of stale bread that was meant to go in the trash and her little belly would be bloated out to the heavens. Or dried Ramen noodles. A pair of eye glasses that belonged to my ex’s mom. Cat shit from the litter box. My very expensive & cute Sam Edelman sandals. Didn’t matter…if it was accessible, Emma was gon’ eat it & you just had to hope you were around to stop it. We stayed in an Extended Stay hotel for a while in Chicago while we were buying our house there & I’d bought a Christmas gingerbread train kit – you guessed it, we put it together, put in on the counter to dry & harden, went to Target & came back to it being demolished, Emma extremely hopped up on sugar & to come down from her high, she ate my ex’s Bluetooth headset leaving only some wires and springs behind. Okay so maybe you didn’t guess all THAT…anyways, I genuinely feared for her life that day. I put her in the bathroom in our little hotel room & told her just stay in there till he wasn’t in the mood to kill her anymore. Even recently while Clinton & I were dog sitting we discovered that the 2 of them teamed up & stole a blueberry muffin. She may be older & wiser but she’s still kind of a heifer.
We’ve went on to have a wonderful life together. We worked on the anxiety she had & now she works as a freelance therapy dog helping others with anxiety (mainly Clinton & I) – a few years ago I had nearly crippling daily anxiety attacks. Emma would lay with me when I’d get home, absolutely exhausted from the pure fear & adrenaline that I’d felt from the attack, & she’d lay with me all day. She never got up & barked to go out or anything…she just let me be & she stayed with me & for that, I’m eternally grateful. She’s been my only friend through many moves around the country. She was my road trip partner when I was driving from North Carolina to West Virginia to Indiana to Kansas City to Nashville to Birmingham to Florida. She is the best car rider. She was ,literally, the only thing I wanted out of my divorce. She is the HBIC in any room she enters. She’s the first to square up with any German Shepherd or Rottweiler. She is truly my best friend. She is truly the best.
When I got my job and had to leave her (and still have to leave her on a semi regular basis) my heart broke. I felt like I failed her, like I too, abandoned her. Luckily she has a PawPaw Barry & 2 aunts & a MawMaw Rose that took wonderful care of her. Actually I gotta say, I think Emma thought MawMaw was her pet human. I think she took it as her responsibility to look after her & take care of her. Remember she’s a freelance therapy dog! She doesn’t go for extended visits to Daytona anymore because we’re settled & I want her to know this place as her home but I can ask her “Wanna go see PawPaw?” And she gets up & barks out “You crazy son of a bitch! I’m in! Get your keys!” or mostly she barks & runs around in circles because she knows exactly who that is & what that means. She now spends her daily life when I’m not here with Clinton who went from being “Beard Gang” to “Dad” & boy, does she love him. Sometimes I think she prefers him to me & while that stings a little, I understand. There for a while she was like that with my dad (aka PawPaw Barry) – she followed him everywhere. She is the biggest lover of people & I’ve always said I think because she got passed around so much when she was a puppy that that is the reason WHY she loves people the way she does – I think she is always on edge thinking she’s going to be given away again.
Over my dead fucking body.
So she’s 13 now. We’ve had some signs of aging pop up the last year or so – some slightly cloudy eyes, some spots on her skin, but worst of all, we had to have her front teeth pulled. Thankfully, having her bad teeth removed has only helped rejuvenate her spirit. She’s back to being the most playful, crazy little thing. I know that one day the inevitable will happen & I also know that I will not be okay for a while when it does. However, I also know that I will have had the greatest privilege having my little shaggy gray girl by my side for over a decade (maybe 2! I’m really hoping we can get her to hit 20!)
We have a lot of life left to live together – she’s taking her first flight in December! To watch her momma & dad get married in Vegas with her by our side. She’s my “Best Girl”. Every time I think of her there, I cry. I’m crying now.
So on that note, I gotta think of something silly. Which is that Vegas will truly not know what hit it when Emma gets there! She’s going to take that city & make it her bitch.
Happy Birthday again, my sweet Emma Lou.
– Autumn (aka momma)