Monthly Archives: June 2013

Guilt

It’s not a life or death decision, but it is still a dramatic decision. Looking back now, it was a spontaneous decision that was made because my husband and I felt special; we felt chosen. We had to attain what had chosen us. In hindsight, maybe we were setting ourselves up for failure. I mean we brought a dog into our house with an abused past. He seemed sweet and innocent and scared. He was afraid of men. He didn’t have a personality. He followed the vet around and couldn’t stand being out of her sight.

We thought we wanted that. We wanted the worship that Shaffer had to give. We wanted to be the chosen ones. So we adopted Shaffer.

For awhile things went smoothly. Shaffer was a sensitive dog, afraid of everything. He’d run and hide when our voices raised, whenever we grabbed his collar, whenever we walked toward him. It took weeks to bring him around; for him to seek out our company not because he needed to be with us, but because he wanted to be with us. I remember rewarding him for small successes: his tail jumping, him bowing playfully, him jumping up on command. It was so cool seeing this dog go from an insecure canine to a stable family pet.

But for some strange reason, this stability came with a few quirks. It started with small things like him escaping his crate no matter what the cost was or how much he was harmed. This puzzled us because he spent most of his time in a kennel at the vet; in fact even if the kennel was open he stayed there. So we decided to cease kenneling him and just keep him in the bedroom. He tore up the door in a frantic escape to get out. He tore up wooden blinds. My husband was angry and I stood up for Shaffer.

Then he developed more annoying habits. Stealing “treats” from the litterbox. Taking things off the table even though we were in the other room. He once ate a whole package of crackers while my husband was in the shower. I laughed it off. I thought it was good that he was showing us his personality.

Then he started growling at the younger animals whenever they would get near him. If the puppy was playing with a toy and got too close he’d growl at her. If the kitten walked by him, he’d growl at her. It didn’t bother me that he’d growl at the kitten. After all, she was the one who used to wake him up from his nap only to hiss at him when he’d look at her. It was him growling at the puppy that started raising red flags.

I know that older animals sometimes become bothered by younger animals, but I’ve never seen a dog that just doesn’t want the younger ones near him. Haley will sometimes discipline Molly when she starts bothering her, but if Molly is playing nearby Haley doesn’t really care. Shaffer is bothered even when Molly plays nearby. He doesn’t really like her near him. He hates it when she lays next to him.

Strangely enough, he doesn’t mind dogs his size. During the storm a few weeks ago he stayed with my in-laws. At first he was a little unsure of their Sheltie, but by the end of the next day he was running around the backyard with her. I started realizing that maybe, just maybe, he needed to be in the country running with dogs his own size.

He’s now mastered the art of jumping the fence. If he’s left in the backyard by himself too long (too long being over ten minutes) he’ll jump the fence and lay on the front porch.

We told the vet a several weeks ago about him suffering from Separation Anxiety (in hindsight, him following the vet around was an indicator of this). She gave us some suggestions, but we all agreed that we didn’t want to give him any sort of sedative. We followed these suggestions and things got better for awhile.

I’m not saying that things have reached a point of n return. He doesn’t do a whole lot of “bad” things, but he does enough annoying things that have made me wonder if we’re really the right home for him. I mean, we live in a home that is less than a thousand square feet with four cats and two other dogs. He’s the biggest one of them all. It does get kind of cramped in the house and I think he feels this.

I’d like for him to have a place to run, but as I said above he won’t stay in the backyard and we have a huge backyard that I’m sure I bigger than our house. I’ve taken him to the dog park, but all he does is finds a place to lay down and stays there the entire time we’re there.

I’ve stopped laughing off his quirks and I’m starting to wonder if he really was the right dog for us. Should we have adopted him? Should we have been so quick in deciding? Was our feeling chosen the reason why we adopted him?

Then sometimes I wonder if Shaffer was only supposed to be in our lives for a short time. Maybe we were only meant to be foster parents and not his forever home. Maybe our task was to bring him out of himself so he could enjoy life in a home in an active family. Maybe it’s actually up to someone else to teach him how to play, how to be a dog.

I honestly feel guilty about even contemplating taking him back, but I want to look out for his happiness and our happiness. I console myself by saying that it isn’t a death sentence for him. He’ll return to the vet where he was adored and doted on. Where he got pizza crusts, pets, and where someone was there 24/7 (it’s an all hours vet). He got multiple walks a day, companions his size to hang out with, and free vet care. The resident cats are so used to dogs that they don’t hiss, arch their backs, or show any sign of aggression.

Still, I feel like a bad person giving up on him. Then part of me says that I’m not giving up on him, but giving him a chance for true happiness. I’m lying to myself, aren’t I?

I’m still debating on whether or not to take him back to the vet. My husband doesn’t want to. Now he’s the one that’s standing up for Shaffer. He’s the one that’s making excuses for Shaffer: maybe something spooked him, maybe he was trying to play with the cat and not actually went after her, maybe this, maybe that, maybe…maybe…maybe.

I apologize if this post paints either Shaffer or my husband and I in a bad light. I just needed to wonder. I know I could wonder in my own private journal, but I feel a need to be judged, or sympathized with, or yelled at; told that we took this dog in and it’s our responsibility to take care of him until death do us part. I don’t know why I crave that right now, but I do.

…Until next time, those clumps in the litterbox aren’t treats; if you’re looking for the good stuff knock down the nearest bookshelf, the treats are at the very top.


Why I’m Glad I Own the Dogs I Do

Working in a grooming salon has made me appreciate my dogs a whole lot more. I used to get annoyed at my dogs’ quirks: Shaffer’s cat litter eating (actually that still annoys me), Haley’s bladder and bowls of steel on rainy days, Molly’s poo eating (wait, that’s still annoying). However, days like yesterday made me come home, hug my dogs, and tell them that I’m glad they’re well behaved.

So what happened yesterday? To say the least, it was a stressing day. BUT, I don’t want to say the least. Whatever ill-behaved dog that lives in this city was in our grooming salon. As early as 7 am, the groomers were having problems with dogs. Before I got into work at 1, they had used the groomer’s helper (it keeps the dog from thrashing around), muzzled a dog, and just had general chaos.

My afternoon consisted of a Dalmatian mix that I had to send home because she wouldn’t stop growling at people. If someone even looked at her, even from across the room, she’d growl. I didn’t think she’d actually bite, but I also didn’t want to take any unnecessary risks. Once the owner was there, she was fine. Of course the owner did tell us that she was the more stubborn of the two sisters, refusing to learn even the most basic of commands.

Now get this, her sister was there as well and I had no problems out of her. She was a bit shy, but she didn’t growl at me. She didn’t thrash around. She was all around a good girl.

I also had a French Mastiff that was stronger than even the strongest groomer in our salon. He wasn’t a bad dog, but he knew he was strong and made sure to demonstrate his strength by dragging me all over the salon…In hindsight, I bet that would have been pretty funny to see.

There also was a Great Dane. The only problem: he was afraid of everything despite the fact that he’s been there many times.

My other “quirky” dog was a Beagle mix who was sweet, but very energetic and didn’t sit still for anything. I couldn’t do her nails because she kept turning around in circles. I could barely brush her because she was circling. It still makes me dizzy thinking about it.

By the time I got home, I was exhausted, agitated, and wasn’t sure I loved dogs anymore. Then, my sweet babies greeted me at the front door, later on Molly fell asleep on my lap, and finally before I fell asleep Shaffer and Haley cuddled up with me. Yeah, I’m so glad that I these dogs. They’re not perfect, but they are the perfect dogs for me.


Life in Tornado Alley 2: Revenge of the Blackout

We thought the worst of it was over, but no. It wasn’t. The tornado was back and this time it brought it’s appetite for electricity. It struck the power lines like a pond of crocodiles striking a herd of water buffalo during their migration. It left most of the city without power. Some had their power back that night. Some the next night. For my husband and I, we didn’t get electricity until four days later.

During the day it wasn’t so bad. We had enough windows in the house to make up for the lack of electricity. Night was the hard part. With no electricity we only had two options, go out or go to bed. A couple times we went to his mother’s house to take a hot shower.

Where were the animals in all of this? They were chilling around the house. I think they knew something was wrong, but not having electricity didn’t affect them one bit. Shaffer lazed by the door. Haley by the TV cabinet or on one of the chairs. Molly in her crate. The cats did whatever cats do.

I realized that I am a modern child and I don’t think I could give up electricity and live a “simple” life. I like my refrigerator, my washer, my dryer, my hot showers, Internet, and being able to be on my laptop and not worry about how long the battery will last.

Currently we have little to no food in our refrigerator. We had to throw all of it out. Fortunately, the city has a spoiled food disposal place due to the citywide outage. We dropped our spoiled food off there. Tomorrow, though, we’re going to go grocery shopping. I’m kind of excited. We’ll have food again.

Anyway, I said all of that to say this. I apologize for not writing last week. It has been a rough few weeks. I hope all of the bad storms are in the past…at least for this year and I’m hoping that we’ll have our new house by this time next year.

So, until next time…hang onto your hats because it’s windy.