I remember vague bits and pieces of it, since I was really young at the time. About four or five? Maybe even a little older. Maybe younger. I don't know exactly what triggered my mom's sudden need to run, since I was so used to the situation we were in and I was too young at the time to realize the gravity of the situation and that, no, it wasn't (or shouldn't be) 'normal'. But I remember that we (the Choi women: my sister, mom, and I) snuck out of the residence during the night like naughty teenagers sneaking out to party. The rest is a blur of random snippets of my time there. I remember learning how to play old navy with a little blonde boy and a young woman. The people there were all very warm and welcoming. Didn't ask questions and just invited us in with open arms and fresh cookies. I remember the place resembled a regular home and I specifically remember a bathroom with a bath. A bath! I'm sure I've had baths before then, but for some reason, I remember this one even now.
It was fun. It was new. It was an adventure.
And one day, a few years later, a friend of my mom's gave us their dog. His name was Pippy, and he was the answer to my prayers (and requests to Santa Claus). He loved to jump into open bags and just stay there with his eyelids at half mast. My sister and I'd take him out to walks and try to teach him how to play catch (and return). We'd take him everywhere and never leave him alone. Never. We absolutely adored him.
So time went on with this new addition to our family. And nothing else changed. There was still that ominous cloud floating above our heads. A question on the minds of my sister and I, 'Will we leave again?' And we did leave a few times. To a motel (I had a blast there, too) and we even slept in the car at a random parking lot (I thought that was like camping. Really fun.). And, thankfully, we usually brought Pippy, even if we had to sneak him in.
Even at a this age, I knew that leaving Pippy behind would be a very bad idea. Very bad. Would he take his anger out on Pippy while we were gone? In what state would we find our dog if we left him? I was afraid for Pippy's life. Afraid. Whenever things got violent, I was scared that we'd leave ol' Pippy behind. When I wasn't home, I worried for his safety. It didn't make it better that Pippy was absolutely petrified of my father. It wasn't like he was a big dog and could defend himself. Because if he was, I would've sicced him on daddy-o.
|You better run.|
I would've been devastated with worry if we had left Pippy home. He was such a comfort to my sister and I, and I even caught my mom, a self-professed animal hater, snuggling him a few times. The point is, if he hadn't been with us, I wouldn't have naively enjoyed the times we were running from home. At first, I hadn't realized that that was what we were doing, running away, although I knew my dad would be mad. But when I caught on, my sister and I sat down with my mom and informed her that if we were to ever leave again, we had to bring Pippy with us. Had to. Maybe that's why we never stayed at a domestic violence shelter again. Since most didn't allow pets.
And now that I think about it, I would never ever stay at a shelter if I couldn't bring my pet with me. I would rather live in an abandoned building and risk rape and illness than leave my pet behind. But even if I did, it would make the traumatizing experience one hundred times worse. Because then I'd be worrying about my pet and feeling guilt. What's happening to him? Is he okay?
So that's why, I think this is so great. I was surfing the web when I came to this site. Rose Brooks Center is a domestic violence shelter that is opening up a pet area so that victims of domestic violence could bring their pets. So that their families wouldn't be split apart. Women and children (and men) who've run away from a bad situation really should not have to be separated from their pets. It's when they need them the most.
So donate, people. Donate.
And hopefully, other shelters will open their doors to the four-legged members of the family.