I had had Bast for about two weeks when I was creeping on Craigslist (again). Although I normally cruise the postings looking at puppies, this time I looked for something specific - news of a little Belgian Shepherd mix. It was hard for me to believe that this sweet little dog was so unwanted that his owners would just dump him at the pound and not care any more. While I know that people are terrible and that much worse things go on in the world, it hurt my heart to think that someone would toss him out like trash because their other dogs didn't like him.
Although I was only casually looking at posts, I found what I expected - an ad asking about Bast. I don't have the ad saved, but I remember the contents of it well. There were several pictures, including the ones from the previous ad and the gut-wrenching shelter picture:
My heart dropped a little. That was my boy. Even though I'd only had him a few weeks, that was my boy. The ad asked for whomever had adopted a 9 month old Belgian Shepherd from the pound to please reply, as he had "special needs".
At this point, sitting in my living room, surveying the wreckage of Bast's toys, the still drying spots of scrubbed out barf and diarrhea in the carpet, and the elephant graveyard of raw bones laying everywhere, "special needs" was not really a strong enough phrase to describe Bast, but it's close enough.
I almost didn't reply to the ad. That sounds terrible, and it is, but I was still mad at these strangers for leaving him at the pound. Bast was only a few hours away from being destroyed when I got him. To me, these buttholes damned an innocent dog to death for the crime of being sweet, and I was pissed. Screw them and screw their concern, it was too late for that.
But looking more closely at the post, I realized it was from a different person. These were not the people who dumped him, but a wolfdog rescue a few states away. I started creeping again and found their website to have a look around, and finally replied. At this point, I was really unsure if keeping Bast was going to work out.
To explain, at the time of writing this, I live in an apartment. Pet-friendly, but still not the ideal place to have a wolfdog, or really any high-maintenance dog. I realize this, and I've gotten crap from strangers before for my decision to rescue him. I accept that criticism because it's true, and the people saying it are just concerned for Bast's well-being, but I stand by my decision - I felt, and still feel, that it was better to save him and have him temporarily live in a smaller space with me than for him to be gassed to death, alone and scared, and have his body tossed out to be burned like a bag of trash.
Grim, but that's the truth of the situation. Anyone who thinks he's better off dead than living in an apartment needs to reconsider their priorities. And also blow me.
So anyway, when the rescue replied with information about Bast, we discussed sending him back. They told me what he was exactly, and where he came from, and that he was kibble intolerant (no news to me, yeeccchhh), and said that if I wanted to send him back, they would arrange for him to be rehomed.
I said yes. And then I cried for about 3 days straight.
I was inconsolable. I moped piteously around my apartment, shuffling bones into Bast's toybox, taking him for walks and only smiling when I saw him. I knew in my head that it would be best to send him back - easier, certainly. In just a couple weeks, my life had been completely rearranged to accommodate him and his "special needs". His vet bills were outrageously expensive, his food costly, he couldn't be left alone, so I was effectively housebound, and to top it off, I was planning to leave the country for a month in a few weeks.
But we had something good together. He was a broken little thing, and just starting to come out of his shell and be a puppy again. I had to weigh the options - leaving him for a month would be confusing for him, but I wasn't sure it would be any less stressful than a cross-country roadtrip, only to be rehomed at least one more time before settling down, IF the new home kept him.
I've never felt so absolutely shitty about trying to do the right thing in my life.
So I talked to the rescue, who talked among themselves. I got a lot of really great support from them, and we all came to the conclusion that with a lot of work, Bast would likely be okay living indoors with me. I promised them, though, that if I ever couldn't handle it any more, he would go straight back to them. That's a promise I'm glad to keep, as it's a serious load off my mind knowing that if something ever happened to me, he has an experienced and welcoming home to go to and be safe.
It hasn't been easy, but Bast adjusted to being an indoor dog with very few problems. He still gets up to mischief, but that will be pages and pages of blog entries for later.