When I adopted Yuki I was at one of my all time lows. I must have been about 8 months sober and I wanted to walk in front of a bus. Or perhaps drown. I actually read about being able to die via tobacco overdose which sounded enticing but also disgusting. Let’s just say, I was bat shit crazy. So, clearly the next best thing to reach for (since I couldn’t drink beer) was a puppy. **I don’t recommend getting a puppy when you’re depressed**
I first saw Yuki online because the pound lists them on their website nowadays. They posted a picture of her at the San Jose shelter. There was a pack of 6 baby pitbulls who had just arrived. 6 sisters, from the same litter. I can’t remember what terrible name they gave her. Something like Rio or Yiro.
As soon as I could I got my mother to go with me to the shelter. I walked into the sad, cold, shit smelling room where they kept the dogs. There she was, behind a chainlink fence with two of her other sisters. When I walked in her two sisters jumped up on the fence whining at me.
She stood there with her head hung low, facing the concrete ground. Her sisters trampled her with excitement pawing at the chain link fence. Their faces shouted “look at me look at me!” Yuki stood there devoid of emotion with her tail between her legs as her sisters piled on top of her. She wouldn’t look up at me. I stood there taking her in. I saw myself in this dog. She emulated how I was feeling. I said, “The one with white fur. I want to see her.”
I fell in love. I knew that was my dog. She was white as snow, so I named her Yuki which means snow or snow blessing in japanese.
4 months young in this picture! She’s standing next to a chihuahua to give you a depiction on what size she was.
Although looking back it truly wasn’t the time for me to care for a dog Yuki did save my life. I was living in a world of ‘poor me’s’ and self pity.
She forced me to give a damn about somebody aside from myself.
The day I brought her home from the pound I took her to the park. She pissed all over my passenger seat and I loved her anyway. We laid down at the dog park. I had to lift her up out of my car. She was a blank canvas. She wouldn’t walk on a leash. Didn’t understand commands or body language. She was so afraid of noises. Unsure of life.
She’s always been oddly cuddly, as if she’s a human. I’d had dogs growing up but never laid down on the floor with them. I was actually shocked that she felt comfortable with me on the first day I brought her home. I took this picture of us.
Moving to Tahoe was the most exciting and saddest day of summer. The plan was to take Yuki, move into a one bedroom cabin that my mother owned and write my book. Still unstable and depressed I packed my entire 4runner up and we drove all night until we reached the cabin.
By far, my favorite road dog. She’s the best driving companion. It makes her happy to be on the road. The car is still her safe place, just like her mommy.
I focused all my energy on taking care of my fur baby. I washed her every other day. I crate trained her, potty trained her, sit, stay, lay down, off, off, OFF, YUKI, aw dang it. We walked the trail behind the house every single day. She was teething and LOVED chewing on pinecones. I might have done everything wrong, but I wasn’t going to do this wrong. Yuki was going to be taken care of. I think, to me, if I could just keep her safe I would have done something right. I felt safe giving my love to her because she wasn’t going to abandon me or judge me.
It was a different lesson on unconditional love.
Tahoe wasn’t entirely bad. My best friend came out to visit me and drove me out of my daily routine. We went on a hike together. The three of us walked across trees, climbed rocks, and had such a good time he missed his bus back home. The cabin only had a wood burning stove as heat, we would stay up and talk about life, the way it changes, the way it’s the same.
“Nothing new under the sun.” he would say to me.
I began to feel a bit human again. I realized how selfish I had been to runaway from San Jose believing that I had not one person who cared. Everyone cared, I was just so habitually attached to hating myself that I couldn’t see past the bubble I created.
Things were great while my dear friend Nico was there but alas, he had to leave and was left by myself again.
Quite frankly, I was losing my mind.
My mother was calling everyday and I was beginning to avoid her calls. She got worried, and finally got a hold of me. She demanded I come home and see the psychiatrist.
Morose and indifferent I put Yuki in the car and headed back to her house. I was put into a psychiatric hold and was separated from her for a week. It was terrible. She dug out a piece of my mom’s carpet trying to get out of the room. I was trying to dig myself out of the psychiatric hold. I just wanted to get to her, walk her, pet her, make sure she was okay. I’m eternally grateful that my mom tried to get me help and took on the responsibility of taking care of Yuki. Especially alongside her awfully yippy chihuahuas.
Long story short, my best friend told me to come to Portland and get the fuck out of the hold. I had nothing to lose at that point.
It was sort of like a Portland or bust thing.
So again, I headed back to the cabin, packed up my life, headed toward Oregon.
We stopped in southern Oregon along the way. I camped out in my friend’s trailer for a little while and had her meet my new addition. We would have stayed longer but by this time Yuki had separation anxiety. Every time I tried to separate from her she would bark. The elder farmers on the land were not going to tolerate the disturbance from a young pit. Even though I was bummed because I could have stayed and made extra money, I think Yuki knew what she was doing. I didn’t need anymore distractions. I had to get to my true destination.
The moment we drove into Portland on I-5, I knew we were home. Oregon is where I got back up on my own two feet.
We arrived in Autumn which is argubly the most whimsical romantic time of year to be in Portland.
I got a job within the first month of living there. Found a place to rent with another dog for dirt cheap.
I met a coworker who had a pitbull german shepard mix. Yuki and Kane became best friends. We climbed through forests together.
We got neo spiritual, watched some Eckhart.
She drove me out of the house. I started to get my life back again. I made new friends, we went on walks every single day, and we explored this lush green land. The city in the forest.
Although I was getting more acclimated to Portland I was still out of my element. Everything didn’t magically become easy. Life was still happening at an overwhelming rate. I still wasn’t diagnosed for bipolar.
Snowpacalypse happened and the city of Portland lost it’s shit. My beloved Rose City isn’t equipped to deal with iced roads in which case, buses get pushed onto sidewalks, cars look like they’re skating on hockey rinks, and the city essentially shuts down.
Holed up in my house with my friend and a room mate who were drinking hotty toddies I decided I would take a hit of weed. I thought I would be able to smoke weed and not drink but that proved to be false hopes. In fact, the initial joint I smoked hardly did anything to me. I was harshly disappointed having thrown away about 8 months of sobriety for some shwag weed smoke. I wasn’t going to go out like that, no sir. As soon as morning came round I hit the icy roads in search of some ‘real’ pot. I found me some reliable, sticky, good ol’ California bud.
I ended up relapsing February 2014. I drank wine every night after work, did cocaine in bar bathrooms, spent my free time smoking weed and listening to Danny Brown by myself.
Times like these make me question my worthiness in being Yuki’s mom. I mean, having a dog is hard work and spending time doing coke in bathrooms while washing it down with filthy martinis isn’t conducive to walking her everyday, or cleaning up her shit in the backyard, or training her to be calm.
Yuki stayed by my side and she loved me even when I refused to love myself. Having Yuki is like having an anchor because I’m no longer allowed to completely runaway from myself. I have to have shelter, I have to make money, I have to take care of her and feed her everyday. She needs me in ways that no other entity on earth needs me.
I am not perfect and nor is she. I won’t sugarcoat it. Having a dog is hard fucking work and it’s not a one night investment.
Think of it this way… I adopted Yuki when I was 23, I’ll be 33 by the time she passes away. Give or take. That’s a long. fucking. time. Morbid as it may be I say this to be real. I wish someone would have said that to me when I adopted her. For those of us who are like me, codependent, alcoholic, addiction oriented, in recovery, living or suffering from mental illness, this is not a solve all to your problems.
It’s hard having a dog. There’s no other way to put it.
She has her hang ups. She’s got food aggression tendencies and I can’t completely trust her around kids because she hasn’t had proper exposure to them (I don’t have any friends with children in Portland so Yuki has been deprived of that experience, therefore ‘little’ sized people make her anxious) and her recall is terrible (let’s just say we don’t do dog parks anymore). With that said Yuki is a wonderful dog and I wouldn’t trade her for the world. I have absolutely no regrets.
I’m hopeful that her behavior will all change with diligent training but that’s just it. Training a dog is like anything else you want to master. You have to tend to it daily.
In the Winter I took her to meet Cora and Kandice. My dear friend opened up her home to us and Yuki met Cora, another new dog friend and a supremely special dog to me (and her mommy Kandice).
Winter of 2014 my boyfriend at the time and I broke up. That same month Kane died.
My life was a bad country song.
He died of bone cancer at about 1 year and 3 months old. It was a hard hit for us all.
Through it all, yet again, my girl stuck it out with me. We were both sad for some time. Kane can’t ever be replaced.
I live and I learn. I grow up, down, and in circles around myself. I learned that sadness doesn’t break me. For the first time I felt sadness without associating it with death. Sadness is an emotion I am allowed to feel and I was okay. I was fucking okay. I was hurt by that loser and I missed Kane but I was alive. I truly wasn’t lost anymore. I was living in one of the most beautiful places on earth, I was sober (again), and I was alive. And actually, I kind of liked me. Dare I say, loved me. I began to get my style back, my flavor, my laugh, my spirit.
In February I moved into Kyle’s extra room. A couple months later, he bought Wasca.
I am blessed with their stellar bed hogging skills and tremendously horrid farts. Life is grand, Dog is Love, and goddess is good. I have my pack. Even though they drive me fucking mad sometimes they have taught me what unconditional love is. I’m convinced if you can love a dog through rotten egg farts, chewed up text books, glasses and shoes, you can love them through anything. They too will love you back without conditions.