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From an award-winning artist, a memoir of life with a difficult, beloved dog that will resonate with anybody who has ever had a less than perfectly behaved pet

When Nicole Georges was sixteen she adopted Beija, a dysfunctional shar-pei/corgi mix—a troublesome combination of tiny and attack, just like teenaged Nicole herself. For the next fifteen years, Beija would be the one constant in her life. Through depression, relationships gone awry, and an unmoored young adulthood played out against the backdrop of the Portland punk scene, Beija was there, wearing her “Don’t Pet Me” bandana.   Georges’s gorgeous graphic novel Fetch chronicles their symbiotic, codependent relationship and probes what it means to care for and be responsible to another living thing—a living thing that occasionally lunges at toddlers. Nicole turns to vets, dog whisperers, and even a pet psychic for help, but it is the moments of accommodation, adaption, and compassion that sustain them. Nicole never successfully taught Beija “sit,” but in the end, Beija taught Nicole how to stay.

Fetch: How a Bad Dog Brought Me Home

I am sobbing at work. I knew how this book would end. I read spoilers, because I just can’t handle when a dog dies. I can’t. I start thinking about my dog and I lose it. My dog is used to me being irrational. When she hears that song from the ASPCA commercials, she books it. She knows that I would hold her and sob on her. She knows just how much of a mess I am.

Beija is the second best dog to ever exist. The best being my dog. Beija was anxious and shy. She had strict rules. She didn’t trust men. She could have been the twin of my dog, despite being drastically different dogs in looks. Beija didn’t seem to be the sort to pointedly punish you when you did something wrong though, like a certain someone (yes, that is a unicorn sleeping bag. She got it for her birthday. She also doesn’t think she should have to share it).

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The memoir was revealing in a way that I didn’t expect it to be. I felt like I was really being let into their world. I felt like I understood both on them on some level. We took different paths, but our dogs both saved us and tethered us to the world. There is something about a rescue dog that is not a “perfect” dog that will change someone for the better and destroy them at the same time.

It is really hard to form words that aren’t just about how much I have fallen in love with Beija and with my own dog. Jojo is my heart and soul. I have never loved anyone or anything as much as I love this dog. Georges and I may be different people, but I feel like I can understand her on a deeper level. Raising a rescue dog that just never seems to grasp how to be a “good” dog is a journey. I was laughing with Breija and gasping at her antics. I was crying when she got bit.

The lengths that Georges goes to try and help he dog are heartbreaking and I would be doing the same thing. Despite this being about Breija, this memoir reveals a lot about Georges and her nature. You can tell a lot about someone by how they treat an animal, especially an animal that needs them.

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(Did I mention she has her own chair? It is fuzzy and designed for children. She has one at home and one at my partner’s house. The same partner that hand sewn, hand dyed, and hand stamped a leather collar for her, but says I spoil her.) So if it isn’t obvious that I am a total weirdo with an obsession for dogs, especially my own, I don’t know what else I can do to convince you. If you are also like me or if you love dogs or love someone who has a rescue, give this book a shot. It is a ride that hit me so close to my heart that I am crying at work while I type this. I am just thankful none of my coworkers are skulking around like they normally do. They may know I am a total sucker for my dog, but they don’t need to see me sobbing at the idea that my dog is mortal and one day I won’t be able to fight with her or serve her any more.

Some of Jojo’s rules:

  1. If she is in bed alone, she must stay alone..
  2. Don’t even think about moving while she is asleep.
  3. She can wear sweaters for as long as she wants and it doesn’t matter if it is 110 out, she must be given her sweater. Taking it off is illegal.
  4. She must be allowed to go to her friend’s house at least once a week for dinner (her friend is a 50 year old man who spoils her. They watch food network together and cuddle under a fuzzy blanket).
  5. She is not to be told no or corrected in any way.
  6. You are to apologize to her for any sleight, no matter how small.
  7. Belly rubs happen promptly at 515 every evening. She will not eat until she has gotten enough attention. Belly rubs are neck scratches on the back of the neck under the collar, a belly rub, and kisses on the brown spot on the side of the face. Anything less will not be accepted.
  8. At exactly 1230, it is time to do tricks. She will do them in the order she sees fit and only on a soft surface. Don’t even think about asking her to sit on a cold floor like a dog.

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5 out of 5 stars. I would recommend this book.

You can buy the book here.

~Isaiah, Jojo’s loyal father

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