Editor’s note: The following another essay by the Lovefraud reader Quinn Pierce, who writes under a pseudonym.
By Quinn Pierce
The first thing I did when my husband and I moved into our first home together was adopt a puppy. I had grown up with many pets, and I can’t remember a time when I didn’t have a dog. I always felt dogs made a home more complete. So, I was thrilled when Ellie, a Border Collie, Golden Retriever mix arrived at my door step, literally.
At the time, I was working as a veterinary technician. I had graduated from college in May, gotten married the following fall, and decided to explore my childhood dream of becoming a veterinarian. One morning, when I arrived at the veterinary hospital to begin my shift, I was greeted at the door by a squirming box that made the telltale sounds of puppies that had been abandoned sometime that night. Unfortunately, this was not an uncommon occurrence. What was unusual, however, was opening the box to find eleven of them.
I remember taking Ellie home thinking my new husband would be as delighted as me; he always seemed to speak of his childhood dog with fond memories. It’s difficult to explain his reaction. He wasn’t angry, just more disappointed. He made statements that led me to think he was going to accept this because I wanted it, but he was not pleased. Ellie was most definitely ‘my dog’. I accepted this with a slight unease that I quickly dismissed. Instead, I put my energy into enjoying my adorable new puppy.
My first baby
We had Ellie for eleven years. She was my first baby, and she was the furry nanny to my boys who were born a couple of years later. I became a stay at home mom, working from a home office and running a new business that my husband and I started together. Ellie and I spent every day together.
When she died of DM, the canine equivalent of Multiple Sclerosis, I was devastated. I could barely get through the quiet of the day. I remember vividly when my husband came to me a week later and said, “I know you can’t be without a dog, I know Ellie kept you company during the day and this must be awful.” I was grateful for his compassion and understanding, and felt I was truly lucky to have someone so caring who loved me so much. A week later, I adopted a new puppy from a local rescue organization. She was a small mixed breed, and I fell in love with her as soon as I saw her.
The new dog
To my surprise, my husband never really bonded with her. I couldn’t understand why he seemed constantly annoyed by this cute little pup. I slowly watched as his annoyance escalated into anger, and within a year, Lucy was a nervous dog who showed constant anxiety, especially when my husband was home. One day, to my complete surprise, he grabbed the cowering dog by the back of the neck and began yelling and swearing at her. I froze for a moment, and then pushed his arm aside yelling at him to stop. I was crying and asking what was wrong with him, why was he acting like this. He replied with clenched fist and scowling jaw that he never wanted another dog; he claimed that I went and adopted another dog without asking him.
Another dog? Was he upset about Ellie? I tried to make sense of the statement, but I really couldn’t. I reminded him that he told me to get another dog after Ellie died. He insisted that he did no such thing, he was just consoling me and never said I should get another dog. The implications of this conversation took a while to set in, but they would be monumental. I spent several days replaying the conversations in my head. It finally dawned on me that he never actually said I should get another dog. I interpreted his words at the time to mean that he wanted me to get another dog.
I did not yet know the manipulative techniques of a sociopathic mind, so I was unaware that this was essentially a set-up and gave him justification for belittling and controlling my actions by making it appear as though I was the one who did something wrong. It wouldn’t be until years later that I would go back over the countless apologies I would make for his behaviors. And this was no exception. I had been trained, in a sense, to accept responsibility for things I hadn’t done. Mostly, it kept me off balance enough to question myself constantly. In those moments of uncertainty, he would pounce. It was a carefully calculated craft, and I had become the perfect mark.
As the physical and verbal abuse of my little dog escalated, I started to see my sons mimic the taunts and actions of their father. Sad and confused, I felt I had no other choice but to give Lucy a new home where she would be safe and my boys would not grow up thinking it was ok to abuse animals. I would be in for another shock once she was placed in a new home.
My husband gave no indication that I should keep her, or that his behavior was wrong, but when I returned home without Lucy, he saw his opportunity. I was sad, confused, and disappointed with myself. The perfect state of mind for an abuser to assert control. He started yelling uncontrollably, accusing me of upsetting the boys and making them feel like they had done something wrong. He reprimanded me for leaving him alone with them when they needed comfort, and he continued the tirade telling me how selfish and horrible I was. I was stunned. Was he blaming me for upsetting the boys when it was his fault I gave Lucy away? For some reason, this was not sitting well. I think he sensed my reaction was not what he wanted and backed off, but the damage was done. I was now questioning my weakness for not protecting my dog the way I should have.
Beginning of the change
I wouldn’t say this was the defining moment as far as me wanting to end my marriage, that would come a few years later, but this was definitely an important moment. I spent the next couple of years trying desperately to recover the unrecognizable bits of myself that I had lost along the way.
Eventually, I would begin my own recovery, which would send my marriage into a fiery explosion after which, I would ask my husband to move out. Not surprisingly, he did not agree to this request. For six months, I tried to convince him to leave without getting the police involved. I didn’t want my children to be exposed to this type of action, and my husband used that to his advantage. So, I continued to look for ways to get him to leave peacefully.
All this time, Lucy was never far from my mind. I felt so much guilt for letting her down and not protecting her; also, I was angry at my husband for all the abuse we had experienced, including his abuse of a small helpless animal. And so, I decided I needed to reclaim my home and make amends for some of my bad decisions.
When my husband went on a three-week vacation to Europe with some friends, I contacted a rescue group and adopted a new dog. But this time, I didn’t get a cute defenseless puppy. By the time he came home from his vacation, we had Sammy, a five-year-old Great Dane. By now, I had figured out enough to know there are certain traits of all bullies that are universal. One of those traits includes not challenging anyone stronger than them.
Introducing him to Sammy was one of my greatest moments. I watched the flash of fear in his eyes with great satisfaction. I smiled a knowing smile that said, “Go ahead, hit her, I dare you.” I may not have been strong enough, yet, to stand up to him, but Sammy lent us her strength, and that was enough to turn the tide. He moved out shortly after. I made the wrong choice when I sent Lucy to live somewhere else; I wasn’t ever going to make that mistake again. And so, my slow road to recovery had begun, thanks to the dogs that rescued me, Ellie, Lucy and Sammy.