A Moment With Marshmellow
In this installment of Barkzy’s Stories, a series devoted to the stories of dogs who’ve been rescued by the Barkzy community, we’re putting the spotlight on Marshmellow, a poodle mix who was fostered by Kari. Although their time together was limited, they formed a special bond in the five days they were together. Read more about Marshmellow’s tale, as told by Kari, below.
I’ve wanted a dog for as long as I can remember. As a kid, I’d fall asleep on Christmas Eve, hoping to wake up to a golden retriever puppy underneath the tree. But, I never did get that dog. My parents thought my brother and I were a handful as is, and adding a four-legged creature to the mix would be overwhelming for my folks. Fair enough.
Flash forward to adulthood. I started living alone in 2017, and by 2018, I found myself weeping over dog rescue Instagram accounts. Still, having a dog was unrealistic at the time. I worked a full-time job with a jam-packed schedule and couldn’t squeeze in time to care for a dog. But then, I was laid-off in 2019, and with no meetings to attend nor tasks to scratch off my to-do list, I was suddenly home quite a bit. I spent more time on those dog rescue Instagrams with the secret hope that I’d lock eyes with a photo of a dog and know in my heart that this was the dog for me — romantic comedy–style.
So, I swiped. And I swiped. And I swiped some more, with no luck. I widened my search and followed every single Los Angeles dog rescue account that I could find. Still, no luck.
Finally, after several months, as I was scrolling through Instagram, I stumbled upon a photo with a tower of dog crates stacked on top of each other. Right smack in the middle of that tower was a sweet-looking fluff ball with sad eyes and a black nose that was begging to be “booped.” His name was Marshmellow. Yes, Marshmellow, which I first thought was a play on his “mellow” demeanor, but later learned that it was just a happy mistake. I messaged the rescue shelter soon after seeing the post, and having been let down more times than I’m ready to admit, wasn’t expecting a response. Instead, I received one within the hour. On the phone interview with the rescue coordinator, she informed me that Marshmellow was recovering from a broken leg. Since Marshmellow would have to stay off his feet for the next few weeks, she asked if I was willing to avoid walks for the time being, and only take him out when it was absolutely necessary — which involved carrying him up and down two flights of stairs, multiple times a day. I imagined what life could be like with Marshmellow: me, sitting at my desk, writing, and him, in his crate by my feet. It couldn’t have seemed more ideal, so of course, I said yes!
After a quick inspection of my apartment to determine its dog readiness and a thumbs-up from the vet, I picked up Marshmellow that same week. I drove over to the West side of town to the animal hospital where he had been staying. After asking for Marshmellow, I waited for 15 minutes, which left me with ample time to ruminate. My anxiety kicked in, and thoughts began racing through my mind: I had no idea what I was doing; I didn’t know how to take care of a dog; they shouldn’t let me leave with him! And when they came out with a paper bag of his medicines? Oh boy, my heart began beating out of my chest. Finally, they brought out the man (dog) of the hour, and the anxiety I had instantly melted away — it was love at first sight. The soft, white fur atop his head was shaped into a tiny mohawk, which belied his sweet demeanor. He looked even more scared than I had felt, and right then and there, I knew I had to be brave for him.
When we arrived at my apartment, I immediately placed him into the crate I’d set up in my office. He was meant to be on crate rest, after all! I sat next to his crate for a while, talking to him, and when I tried leaving the room, he cried. So, I moved him from his crate and into the living room, where I FaceTimed with my mom to introduce her to her new grandbaby. He limped around the room, sniffing and inspecting things. That was until my mom pointed out in a high-pitched voice that sweet Marshmellow left a surprise on the rug. This was why it was important to take dogs out regularly. From then on, I was diligent about taking him out regularly. He’s never had another accident since.
By the end of our first day together, I was pooped (pun intended). After one more bathroom break to be safe, we retreated to bed early. But, soon after I shut the lights off, Marshmellow began to cry. What started with just a whimper became a full-blown orchestra of barking and whining. I tried to talk him down and reassure him I was still there. Neither of which helped. At some point, I drifted off to sleep.
But, just three short hours later, a resurgence in Marshmellow’s cries woke me up. It was 5 a.m. Now, I am not a morning person. In fact, I am a night owl by standard definition. While I was looking forward to waking up earlier with a dog, I thought waking up “early” would mean 8., not 5 a.m.! It was hard to be mad, though: as soon as I let Marshmellow out of his crate, he limped around me in circles, panting excitedly with his tongue hanging out.
Suffice it to say, Marshmellow and I met the sunrise with two very different attitudes. Now, I was on his schedule instead of the other way around. Yep, 10-pound Marshmellow wore the pants in this relationship. And when I tried to do freelance work, Marshmallow didn’t appreciate vying for my attention. I had to keep him from jumping up onto the couch next to me because it’d cause him to yelp with pain. Thankfully, he settled to rest by my feet.
When I first applied to foster Marshmellow, I thought I’d have more time to ease him into his new, albeit temporary, home. But, my schedule was subject to the whim of my several employers, and as it turned out, I had a meeting after just one day at home with Marshmellow. To say I was nervous about leaving him would be an understatement. After another morning of cuddles, it was time to put Marshmellow back in his crate. He seemed OK at first, but as soon as I walked out of sight, the crying began. I opened the door, walked through, closed it, and listened. His cries became frantic and quickly turned to barks. I began panicked — partly because this poor creature was so distraught and partly because the barking might bother the neighbors. I informed my neighbors that I would be “dog-sitting for a friend” (it seemed easier to explain than fostering), but with an unpredictable work schedule, I was concerned that Marshmellow might have serious separation anxiety. I went back inside and talked to him through his crate, trying to reassure him that I’d be back. The only problem was that he didn’t speak English. I brought out my laptop and put on the most relaxing music I could think of (Enya immediately came to mind), and then I left again. Marshmellow’s cries restarted, but it couldn’t be helped.
This pattern went on for the rest of the week. Fortunately, my boss allowed me to take two-hour lunch breaks, in which I drove the 45 minutes home to take out Marshmellow and spend time with him and then drive back. But, I couldn’t help wondering if it was more stressful to leave him, not once, but twice every day that week. Plus, it was unsustainable work-wise. The crying never stopped, and every time I left, Marshmellow sounded so unhappy. And every single time, my heart would rip in half.
When I learned that I’d be working from the office for the foreseeable future, I knew the situation wasn’t ideal, both for Marshmellow and me. I texted the foster coordinator from Marshmellow’s rescue and told her my updated work schedule. At first, she tried to convince me that he’d adjust with time — which he likely would’ve, but as his caretaker, I realized I wasn’t capable of providing him with the attention he required. In the end, the coordinator was very understanding. But, I felt like a failure and like I was letting Marshmellow down. I loved Marshmellow, and though I really wanted it to work out, it was settled: I would drop him off at his new foster home that Sunday.
After one last sleepless night in his crate, he slept the whole way to his new home in Santa Monica. His new foster was a lovely, middle-aged woman. She worked from home and lived with her teenage daughter. I’ll never forget his face when I left their apartment. I sobbed the whole way home. I received text updates from his new foster for a few weeks, and then those slowed. The rescue posted on Instagram that she’d adopted him, but a month or so later, they posted that Marshmellow needed another surgery for his injured leg. Unfortunately, his new owner wasn’t able to afford it and ended up returning him to the rescue. Luckily, the third time was a charm, and I learned later on that Marshmellow finally settled with his last foster, a single mother with a young daughter. This brought me some peace of mind: Marshmellow, with his sweet demeanor, would be perfect for a little kid.
While I only fostered Marshmellow for five days, I haven’t stopped thinking about him. I learned so much in those five days, and not just about what it means to be responsible for a dog. But that’s a different essay.
Want to share your dog’s adoption story? Email us at email@example.com and tell us all about your four-legged family member and the impact they’ve made on you and your loved ones’ lives.