Letters from the Editor: Every dog

Over the summer, I adopted a puppy—a scrawny, puffy little thing with a perpetually turned up tail. Luna, by our whole family’s judgement, is a very peculiar dog. She doesn’t run from thunder and lightning, she hates being on chairs alone, but climbs up to considerably higher couches and beds to play, and when she growls, it sounds more like a electric toothbrush than a real dog getting aggressive.

However, the thing that strikes me as being most odd about Luna is that there is one thing in this world that she is terrified of to the point of shaking: other dogs. She freezes at doors when the neighbor dogs bark and I have now witnessed her putting her paws on another puppy and physically pushing him away from her.

There are certain pet owners who look exactly like their animals. I think I may have picked a dog who behaves exactly like me instead.

When it comes to college, I think I’ve had an easier academic ride than some folks I know. However where I have struggled and foresee myself continuing to struggle is with the social aspect. I stumbled and stuttered my way through freshman year, drifting slowly apart from everybody I liked or even thought I could like until I saw an unyielding wall of static between me and the people living around me. The wall wasn’t visible, wasn’t even an object in reality, but every time I reached out to someone, I could feel it there making every interaction hard to see, harder to hear, and therefore harder to attempt.

I wonder if it’s how Luna feels every time I scoop her up and hold her at face level with other dogs. I wonder, when she turns back and looks at me with her little round eyes, if she is silently asking me what the point of all the fear is. I wonder, but I know that what she really needs is for me to push her out of her comfort zone, so that the mere sight of a strange dog doesn’t turn her into a shaking, whining mess.

It’s a difficult lesson to learn, one of the hardest I’ve personally faced here at the university, but pushing your boundaries is crucial to development. Sometimes you make progress when you aren’t expecting it.

Luna had an appointment at the vet few days ago when I held her down to introduce her to another dog—a dog she didn’t push away. I smiled up at this new dog’s owner and managed to push past the wall of static to thank him. These interactions only lasted a few seconds, but for Luna and me, every successful few seconds are important ones.

It’s a new semester and I know I’m not the only person out there who feels cut off and alone at the worse of times. My best advice is to try being like Luna: find the people who love you and trust them to help you push yourself.

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