Tuesday, August 14, 2012

What To Do....

Regular visitors to Oa will know that a couple of years ago, against my better judgement, I gave my wife and daughter permission to acquire a dog, a rescue from a family at our church who inherited the little guy when his owner passed away.  Their own dogs were regularly beating up on what was going to become our dog.  He went from being the master of his little domain -- it turns out that the little old lady who previously had him spoiled him rotten -- to cringing under the sofa and only sneaking out to eat and pee when there was a chance the other dogs in the house would leave him alone.  The story in capsule form like that makes it seems like we did a wonderful thing, giving this plucky little rescue a new home.

It has been less than idyllic.

Not only have I, as I feared, been stuck with most of the care, feeding and walking, but the dog has really turned out to be quite the bundle of problems and limitations.  I tried and failed to get my family to understand before we took him on that were effectively killing any spontaneity in our lives by adding this pet to our home.  Want to wake up some Saturday and decide to go to Philly, or an amusement park, or even just to the freaking library for the day?  You can't.  Somebody needs to walk the dog.

You get the idea.

And he has turned out to be pretty much the opposite of what we were hoping for in the dog department.  He is not affectionate.  We have daily battles, for over two years, on who is the alpha in our family "pack."  He refuses to accept a spot lower down on the totem pole, and the resulting anxiety makes him crazy.  He feels like he has to always be "on duty" despite all our best efforts to get him to relax, and consequently becomes destructive if left alone for too long.  I still have to repair our kitchen floor where he apparently tried to tunnel his way out to join us when we were all at choir practice.  And I do not want to install a doggie door, or fence in my property -- we have a beautifully landscaped yard, which cost us a pretty penny, and I simply do not want to ruin it with fencing -- so sticking him outside is not an option.  Also, we're pretty rural here, with all kinds of critters visiting our yard, including the occasional bear and skunk, and I just don't want to go there.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg.  We have spent hundreds on trainers and dog "whisperers" trying to get him on track.  We had to buy all kinds of crating supplies when it turned out he was NOT housebroken and destructive if left alone.  He regularly develops fatty tumors, which so far have turned out to be benign (and at this point, forgive me, but I'm not sure that's a blessing) and have to be removed at anywhere from $800 to $1,600 in vet fees.  I could have spent two weeks in Tuscany with the fees paid from the surgeries alone.  His prescriptions rival mine, and I'm chronically ill.  He has to take Puppy Prozac, an anti-inflammatory for arthritis, an antihistamine for allergies, a tranquilizer for sleep (actually the tranquilizer is so that WE can get a few hours of sleep) and pain medication for spinal inflammation.  He keeps finding new ways to avoid taking these medications -- even the vet has never seen a dog who will suck on a doggie pill pocket and spit out the pill .  It's just ridiculous, and he still "ain't right" as the saying goes.  And as a poodle, a breed that doesn't shed, he has to be groomed every six weeks to the tune of $80 a throw.  He's been a costly addition, at a time when I'm nearly overwhelmed by college tuition costs and home repairs.

Of all the people in the family to focus on, he has chosen ME to be his special "puppy."  I am followed everywhere.  If I leave a room and find I've forgotten something, I always accidentally trip over him or kick him when I turn to go back.  Hell, I cannot so much as go to the john without tripping over him, and I am normally a pretty solitary guy.  I don't like it and I have spent hundreds of dollars AND hundreds of hours trying to change it, to no avail.  God forbid he should latch onto one of the family members who actually wanted him.

Also, he bites.  Not often, but enough to make me worry about lawsuits.  And he goes uncontrollably bat $#!+ crazy when the doorbell rings, which is just annoying, but still.

So.  My daughter is a college student and my wife is a physician who works 70-80 hours a week.  It falls to me to do the feeding and the walking.  And the end result of trying to do a good deed and rescue this dog is having the effect of tearing my family apart.  Wife and daughter profess to love him, although they spend almost no time with him and he gives them very little affection, absorbed as he is in me.  They are as tired of hearing me complain about how I feel trapped and how I'm cleaning up the vomit and pee as I am of living through it.  My wife and I had words just the other night when she and my daughter made plans to visit the PA Renaissance Faire this coming weekend with a visiting friend...and I had to remind them that someone has to Stay Home With The Dog.

More and more, I find myself resenting him.  Now if something should happen to me -- if I should need surgery again for my Crohn's Disease, or have a stroke from my high blood pressure -- my daughter is not going to come home from university to help with his care.  And my wife is certainly not going to change her work schedule to come home twice a day to walk him so that he doesn't pee in the bedroom.  No, we would have to find someone to take him; giving up a 10-year-old poodle who bites to the pound is effectively sentencing him to death, and I don't want that karma.

I think we need to start looking for an alternative home for him now.  Because I can guarantee you, the stress I'm having from this dog is sure as shootin' going to give me that stroke, and sooner rather than later.

And I don't want that karma either.

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