This weekend I took a step and did something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. I adopted a dog from the SPCA!

This is my new buddy Yorick, whose name comes from a convergence of my love of Shakespeare (the “fellow of infinite jest” referenced in Hamlet) and comic books (the protagonist of Y: the Last Man by Brian K. Vaughan). Vaughan’s Yorick Brown is not exactly one of my favorite fictional characters, but I feel like if you’re naming a dog after a character, it shouldn’t necessarily be someone you admire but someone you are affectionately exasperated with a lot of the time. I hope the name doesn’t turn out to be too prophetic (especially as a friend later pointed out an issue I’d forgotten, that Yorick Brown is a trained escape artist, which isn’t behavior you want a domestic animal to emulate.

Anyway. I’m really happy to have the dog, though I have to admit I wasn’t entirely prepared for how stressful the adjustment period would be. (I hope it’s just the adjustment period). When I shared the news of the adoption with my sister (who is a couple years younger than me but has owned a house and a dog a lot longer), she said, “Wow, you’re finally a grown-up!” Which is funny because I have a grownup job and own a car and a house, but this really seems to seal the deal. Before I bought the house last fall, my living situation had been pretty constantly-transitory (the computer I’m typing on has had four different addresses), and that has a lot to do with why I’ve never gotten a pet. I’ve shared space and caretaking with other people’s dogs off-and-on. But having a dog I adopted in a home with my name on the deed feels more different than I expected. I’ve been in a constant state of God-what-happens-when-I-have-to-leave-him-alone freakout since I brought him here — which, for some reason, had never struck me as a problem before I actually got him in the house.

The thing about dogs, I’m starting to realize, is that they force you to think about other people. I’m afraid my initial thought process wasn’t more complicated than, “I live by myself, I have space, if I get a dog I won’t be alone in the house as much.” But in actual fact, having the dog here makes me want to invite my friends over to meet him. It gets me to stop when I’m walking him through the neighborhood and talk to people I never would. It makes me worry about the people next door who might be pissed off if he barks when I’m gone — I don’t really know them; should I warn them in advance if I’m not sure it will be a problem, should I take a risk and apologize later if it turns out to be? It makes me want talk to everybody else I know who’s ever had a dog to make sure if I’m doing it right. It makes me want to make neurotic blog posts about everything I’m thinking about!

I’ve always thought I was more of a dog person than a cat person — I like cats but for the most part they’re just there and while they’re (usually) a smaller investment of time and energy, they spend a lot of time avoiding you (unless they’re rubbing against you when you’re trying to work!) and maybe not such a good return on investments. (To me, that is! Please don’t yell, cat people!) But now I’m thinking I’m a cat person who wants to be (or to become?) a dog person. It’s my natural inclination to stay out of people’s way if they stay out of mine, and to avoid asking for help with anything if I don’t actually have to. Those are inclinations I can overcome, but they’re still pretty well ingrained.

Hopefully, this week’s neurosis-attack is something I’ll get over. Because, seriously, I love this dog.