Rejected. Such an ugly word.

Seriously. Who rejects this?

I have always known that I was adopted. I was 3 when it happened.

I have always known that I did not belong to my family.

The standard go-to that I must be very special because I was specially chosen by my mommy and daddy and that only happens to very special children, was lost on me. I wasn’t stupid. In order to be hand selected, first I had to be rejected by someone else.

Rejected. Such an ugly word.

So – here I sit. Trying to understand this “belonging” thing. I’ve been wondering things about people not like me for as long as I can remember. Do my sisters know how much they look like my mother? If they know, does it matter to them? Does my brother think it’s cool that he looks just like Pop-pop when he was that age? When you belong, does it feel different from not belonging? Do you feel confident and sure you are where you are supposed to be? What does that feel like? If you have no reason to suspect or question any of these things – what kind of things do you think about?

I was sharing these thoughts with a friend who is a person “not like me”. A person who grew up with the mother she looks like. A person who grew up feeling like she did not belong. How could that be? HOW COULD THAT BE?

I see now that belonging doesn’t come from out there. Not belonging was my own construct and I have created so much around that. I won’t lament the lateness of my understanding. “Without a struggle, there can be no progress” (Frederick Douglass). Had I not been there, I would not be here. I may be the liberal, atheist daughter of conservative, Roman Catholics but that’s okay because I’m kind of great.

Mi familia

Brothers, Sisters, Nieces, Nephews

Duchess, the bully

My sweet baby girl

I have been taking Analaigh to the Montgomeryville BarkPark since she was inoculated enough to go. My baby girl is a pretty shy thing. She is so sweet and so timid. The first time she passed through that gate she submitted to the toy poodle greeter, Henry, then to her first violater, Jake. Since then she’s gained confidence and loves the park and her puppy friends. She has never met a dog she didn’t immediately figure out, except for one: Duchess, the bully.

Duchess started coming to our park last September. She was up for adoption through an animal rescue and living with a foster. She was introduced to us as a pitbull mix because of her blockhead and muscular build. The first day Duchess came into the park, she stalked and stared down Analaigh and then lit into her. It was the first time, I had seen Analaigh defend herself instead of submit. No one made much of it at the time because it’s a dog thing.

Within a month, Duchess had a prospective adopter except he wasn’t interested if she had any bit of pitbull in her. My thought was that her foster-mother should flat-out refuse to let her go to anyone with such a stipulation. Instead, Duchess became a “corgie mix” because she had pointed ears and short legs. I began to think this might not go well.

"Hello, Layla" says Echo.

Since this rocky beginning, Duchess has been in an altercation with a dog every single time she has come to the dogpark. A few months ago, there was an altercation (shocker!) and someone breaking it up got bit by Duchess and went to the hospital for stitches. Duchess was back to the park that evening. The response of her foster-mother? “Duchess plays rough, the other dogs just don’t know what to make of her.” Really? Dogs, who read each other by sniffing the essence of butts, somehow can’t figure it out? I call bullshit.

The foster-mother has been talked to a lot about Duchess’s behavior and aggressive nature. Every time, we are met with another excuse as to why the altercation was not Duchess’s fault.

Duchess isn’t a bad dog but she needs help. How can she get it if her caretaker refuses to acknowledge that there is a problem? Who is trusting this woman with the care and placement of this dog when she refuses to accept and chooses to remain blind to a potential threat of safety?

Duchess was just adopted by her foster-mother due to policy changes at her housing development – so at least, we don’t have to worry about Duchess quietly passed off as “enthusiastic” to some unsuspecting person . But now, the chances of her getting help are even worse than before. There was another fight yesterday. Henry’s dad (the toy poodle greeter) suggested Duchess not come to the park when dogs are around since they just don’t play well together. Nothing changed. The fight wasn’t Duchess’s fault. She just plays rough. Dogs just don’t understand.

I’m at my wit’s end but I’m not sure what I can do.