How to Manage a 5lb Ball of Anxiety


In 2019, during my one year stay in Mexico, I volunteered at a rescue shelter for dogs. Every Sunday. It was the happiest day of the week for me. I loved each second of the day and every single furry critter. It never once crossed my mind to actually take one home. Until it did.

Now most dogs that come into the shelter have been abandoned or found on the side of the road, hungry, dirty and scared. Some are brought in by owners or family of the owner.

Every now and then we get a mom with brand new pups or a mom about to deliver. Those are my favourite. Puppies!!!!! :) We get to watch them grow and then get adopted out. Such fun!

Each and every dog has a sad story.

Life at the dog shelter

It’s a huge piece of property with 15 pens and 15 kennels. The pens are various sizes, some for small dogs and some for the big ones who like to run around. It’s completely outdoors. All of it. The kennels are small, all concrete, each one has a dog house and at bedtime they got lots of blankets.

Unless they eat them. Then they don’t get any blankets.

The volunteers leave at 2 pm each day, each dog goes into his/her kennel and is there until the next morning. Yes it’s sad but there’s nothing we could do about it.

The night guard comes in around 5, feeds everyone dinner, makes sure everyone has clean water, and protects the grounds at night. Volunteers come in around 9, all dogs come out of their kennels and get to play and go for walks all damn day. Until 2 pm.

So you can see it’s not an entirely horrible life but still. It’s sad and lonely. We do the best we can with what we have.

The revolving door of the shelter

It’s very rare that a dog gets adopted and then returned. It happens though, just not very often. Many of the dogs get flown up north to the US and are instantly adopted into loving homes.

We take in an awful lot of dogs and sometimes have to turn people away because there’s simply just no room. It’s sad but unfortunately it happens and there’s nothing we can do about. Honestly it breaks our heart too.

We’re happy when the critters go to a new home. We’re sad when they get returned to us.

But some dogs just aren’t a good fit for people. Sometimes the dog won’t get along with other animals in the house or they are simply too hard to train, the adopter gets frustrated and annoyed and returns the dog.

Like Miss Penny.

She was a teeny chihuahua, afraid of her own shadow and shook uncontrollably all day. Unless she was laying in your lap (that should have been my first clue). She was maybe 5 lbs soaking wet.

Now before we get too far into this you gotta know one thing. As much as I absolutely love, love, wait one more, LOVE dogs, chihuahuas are my least favourite. Sorry, not sorry.

I like big chunky monkey meaty fluff balls. Send me a great white Pyrenees any damn day. But chihuahuas? Ooph. Hard pass.

And then, there’s Miss Penny.

In and out, in and out

Miss Penny was one of those dogs that kept getting returned. She arrived in November of 2019 and was quickly adopted out. We were happy about that. A cold lonely shelter is no place for a little scaredy-cat dog like a chihuahua.

She was gone a week and returned. The owners claimed she attacked their two cats (don’t blame you Miss Penny), she was aggressive and didn’t get along well with other animals. They did have a good point. She didn’t get along well with others.

She was always barking at other dogs at the shelter and really just preferred to hang with the humans.

We took her back, a few weeks went by and a really nice lady came and scooped her up. Yay!. People love chihuahuas (why, is still beyond me). Bye Miss Penny!!

And then. Yup. A few days later she got returned again. Sweet baby geezus. The new owner just didn’t get along with her. How could that be? I mean how terrible could this dog really be?

And the real hell began

I couldn’t handle this poor little thing coming in and out of the shelter so I took her home and changed her name. Welcome Felicia. And she wears that name well!

The first few weeks she peed everywhere. No biggie. I get it. If some stranger brought me to their house to live I’d probably pee everywhere too.

When that settled down and she finally understood that the house was not a giant toilet, I started noticing something very peculiar.

She has co-dependency issues. Like SERIOUS issues. I realized that I could never be out of her sight for longer than a nano second. I wish I was kidding. I get up, she gets up. I sit down, she sits down, I go to bathroom, she follows me in there, I take a shower, she sits on the bathmat waiting for me to get out.

She now has her own special chair in my office because I honestly was tired of her sleeping on my lap while I tried to work all day. Call me a big fat meanie all you want but it’s fucking uncomfortable.

She is constantly under my feet and I’m always either kicking her or stepping on her and trust me, it’s not because I’m a bitch and I want to. She’s.right.fucking.there.all.the.time. I’m sure the neighbours think I’m a bitch because I’m constantly yelling “Will you please just go lie down for the love of God and everything holy!!!!”

She does. With a sad face. And I don’t love yelling at her but it’s the only way she’ll get out from under my feet.

I’m really not a bitch, I promise

Now while all this may sound like I’m a fucking bitch and I don’t deserve this dog, trust me, I’m so not a bitch and she is super spoiled. She has 3, yes 3 beds (and mine is not one of them) I make her food from scratch, she sleeps on my lap every night on the couch while I watch Vikings.

Every time I go into the fridge for a snack she gets one too (and she really loves cantaloupe oddly enough). She is not neglected, she’s fed very well, and we’ve kinda sort of bonded. She’s got a unique and quirky personality that makes me laugh all the time.

The only time she ever barks is when the squirrels outside are annoying her. She loves people. Honestly, she’s a really good dog. She just has crazy high anxiety and is severely co-dependent.

So how do I manage this 5 lb furry ball of anxiety. Well, clearly I yell at her but honestly that’s only after I’ve accidentally kicked her more than twice because she’s under my fucking feet. Other than that I usually just ignore her nervous anxious ways, let her follow me around like a shadow, pet her and give her treats throughout the day.

I really don’t know what else to do so we just deal with it. I’m sure she had a horrible life before me and I do the best I can to make sure she knows she’s safe here, she’s staying here, I’ll never hit her (EVER!) and she’s stuck with me.

She really does have a good life and we’re friends

Honestly. We do get along. She’s just a little annoying at times and I’m sure she probably thinks the same about me. I could almost hear her think “How dafuk did I get stuck with this crazy human”?

Independent of her high anxiety and neurotic ways I’m glad I adopted her. She does bring life into this sometimes lonely and sad house and it’s nice to come home to something that’s soooooooooo happy to see you.

And I couldn’t imagine my life without her now. She’s kinda my buddy. ❤

Image for post
Image for post
Who’s a good girl? 🐾🐾

xo iva xo

Written by

Self help Guru|Expat|Website: mini self help eBook series here:

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store