Learning to Become a Dog Father

I’ve made a friend I’m sure I will have countless memorable experiences with

Photo from the author

I never thought I would be a dog father, but alas, fate has placed me in a position of not only living with my roommate’s dog, Grizz, but playing with him, picking up his poop, walking, and running with him, and occasionally feeding him. It has come with its trials and tribulations, given that three days ago, I had no idea how to take care of a dog. This morning, as a matter of fact, I left for a run without Grizz and came back to find dog pee all over my floor.

Three days later, however, I am now relatively an expert after a short crash course of living with Grizz. No, I’m not actually a dog father mastermind, but I have learned a lot on both practical and relational levels that have bonded me and Grizz.

After all, Michael Corleone didn’t become mob boss of the Corleone family in The Godfather overnight either — he actually disdained the family business for most of his life. I was actually fearful of dogs when I was younger and thought I would never help care for one, but like Michael Corleone, I find myself thrust into a role I didn’t think was for me, and I love it.

Grizz, who is owned by my roommate Samuel Sullivan, used to have a brother named Dot Com, a character from 30 Rock, and also was named after a dog who had previously died, named Bear. I also just learned that Grizz is also a character in 30 Rock.

However, Sam was gone for a day so I graciously took on the challenge of feeding Grizz and walking him last night. It was the perfect task, especially given that I also had to exercise and run myself. I thought, for some reason, that the run was going to be a lot smoother and uninterrupted. It was not, because I completely what dogs tend to do in public spaces while outdoors, including peeing, pooping, and attempting to chase other dogs. I had a hard time trying to make sure he didn’t try to play with the other dogs in the park and trying to get him to avoid people, but I was learning.

Grizz, however, was a champion, being able to run at a pretty brisk 7:30 mile pace for two miles. I know many humans who can’t run 7:30 mile pace for two miles, and of course, Grizz then got tired and then we walked back, making it about four miles on the day.

At the end of the run, we got back and I was worried about Grizz and checking to see if he was okay. I was on Google, checking to see what the guide and parameters usually are to running with a dog, and one article told me to “not assume that your dog is a runner”. I started to get paranoid that I ignored warning signs and overtaxed Grizz, and I worried that he was hungry even though I’d already fed him. After all, Grizz was giving me the puppy eyes like he really wanted to eat. However, I called Sam, and Sam told me that Grizz was trying to play me and that I shouldn’t feed him because he’d already been fed twice that day.

And I was there, somewhat scared that Grizz was dying because I overworked him.

There have been trials and tribulations in my first couple of days as a dog father, but the pros outweigh the cons, and my life has gotten significantly more fulfilled with Grizz in my life than Grizz not in my life.

Growing up, I was actually scared of dogs after I was bitten by a dog at a pretty young age. It’s kind of embarrassing to talk about but I had a certain cynophobia, always trying to avoid dogs of family members or friends until I was in about middle school. I got over it as I just got more exposed to my friends’ dogs and realized that they weren’t so scary, but my heart still jumped when I was in high school if a dog started chasing after me on a run, which actually happened quite often.

It wasn’t a very rational fear, but I’m over it. I helped dogsit a couple of my friends’ dogs at times but my role was somewhat limited — my friend went on vacation and needed someone to watch her pitbull, but my roommate did most of the work.

Grizz has been nothing but a gift to take care of and spend time with. He seems to like me and be very comfortable with me and has frequently slept on me while I’ve been on the couch in very uncomfortable positions. I tried to navigate trying to watch TV, write, and keep still so Grizz could sleep at the same time, but Grizz, unfortunately, kept waking up because I kept moving.

Photo from the author

I woke up early this morning to go on a run, and it woke Grizz up. He grunted at me in visible anger and irritation, and I left the place. I came back from my run after a pretty bad run where I fell and rolled my ankle, and then scraped my knee to reveal several layers of skin. I limped back to my place, kind of mad at myself for being clumsy, to be welcomed at the door by Grizz. He licked me and saw that my leg was bleeding profusely, and gave me the puppy eyes like he wanted to hang out, but I needed to eat breakfast and shower before work this morning.

However, I went to my room and realized that I forgot to close it, which I need to do to prevent Grizz from coming in. And when I got into my room, I saw some of my clothes on the floor soaked in yellow liquid, as well as the open portion of my floor. It smelled pretty bad too.

I quickly put everything in the washer, gave Grizz my own version of an angry grunt on the way out for peeing in my room, and put some extra detergent as I sprayed my floor. It taught me a lesson that my door should always be closed.

I’m learning my way around as a new dog father, and learning fast. But again, my life with Grizz is significantly better than my life without Grizz. It is more eventful, fun, and adventurous, and I’m glad that he was able to be comfortable with me so quickly.

Being Grizz’s new dog father has taught me many lessons, which include making sure to set boundaries (close my door), always listen to the experts (Sam, Grizz’s actual owner) and overall the importance of friendship. It’s no secret that now is not a good time to make friends or spend time with friends given the pandemic, but in Grizz, I’ve made a friend I’m sure I will have countless memorable experiences with.

Believer, Baltimore City special ed teacher, and 2:40 marathon runner. Diehard fan of “The Wire.” Email: ryanfan17@gmail.com. Support me: ko-fi.com/ryanfan

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