In my last post, I wrote about how Our Best Friend is a part of the family. And he is. He’s the most beautiful, loving, protective dog I could ask for.
That doesn’t mean I don’t think of giving him away. Every. Single. Day.
It was hard enough when I wasn’t alone. The Ex-Spouse worked long hours and was seldom home. Still, he sometimes took Our Best Friend out when he got in late at night, for that last pre-bedtime pee. Now it’s me. Every night. The Eldest has lost interest in the dog (she wants a cat), and the Middle Child, who adores him, is in bed by then (or at least she should be). It’s me at 6:50 every morning too, and when I get home from my new part-time job at 5:00. I take him out Wednesdays before I leave for school, and I’m the one who takes him out when I get back at 10:30 at night, after a two-hour drive home.
I wouldn’t mind any of this if he was obedient. If I could open the door, let him out to pee, and he would come back when he’s done. Like Blackie does. If he didn’t chase after squirrels, and poop in the neighbour’s yard, or voom out of sight and end up a block away.
When I walk him, he pulls like a maniac. Sometimes he looks like he’s pulling a sled, he’s tugging so hard. I don’t know how to fix this. I’ve put treats in my pocket to try to entice him to stay by my side. He grabs the treat and goes back to pulling. I make him sit. He lunges forward. He still almost pulls me off my feet out the door, even though I make him sit and wait to leave on command. At least I’ve finally gotten him to stop barking insanely when he sees the leash in my hand. Now he just whimpers madly.
The barking. Oh man, the barking. Every time the doorbell rings. Every time someone opens the front door. When the tenants come home. If I come in through the garage so I can put groceries in the basement fridge, he howls and barks until I make my way upstairs. Someone suggested I spray water in his face when he barks. I tried– it made it worse.
He used to run down the stairs to meet me, but he’s not allowed downstairs any more. Ever since the last time Duke and Blackie stayed, he pees in the office, or poops in the guest room, any time he gets downstairs. I can’t even go down with him. If I take my eyes off him for two seconds, he sneaks into whichever room I’m not in and does something bad.
I don’t mind the fur so much, except when it gets embarrassing. I returned some clothing to WalMart a few weeks ago. When the clerk pulled it out of the bag, I saw, to my horror, dog fur clinging to it. They took it back without a word, and now I live in fear of some poor unsuspecting person being exposed to those leggings and going into anaphylactic shock.
And I’m sick of the guilt. With my schedule, when am I supposed to walk him? I’m not Kristine; I can’t drag my carcass out of bed any early than I already do, and I have three kids to yell at to hurry up or we’ll be late for school. Get up at 6:00, in the pitch dark and cold, to walk the dog? Not happening. I started working part-time, so afternoons are out. And after dinner, I’m doing homework with someone– or three someones, sequentially. Once the younger two are in bed, I usually drop dead. Or decide that watching Once Upon A Time beats walking the dog.
So he’s wild with pent-up energy, which is exacerbated by taking his role of man of the house too seriously. When the kids play too boisterously, or shriek at each other, as sisters are wont to do, he rushes forward, barking furiously. More barking, in addition to the door and the garage and seeing the leash and being offered a treat.
Every time the barking starts, I think, “I can’t handle this any more.” When guests are here, his barking makes them jump too, and I’m embarrassed by my out-of-control animal. Every time he pulls on the leash, I think, “I need a professional trainer, and I can’t afford one.” I live in fear of catastrophic illness or injury. Simply put, he frays my nerves.
But every time I threaten to get rid of him, The Middle Child cries. If I walk him once a week, it’s one walk more than I would take if I didn’t have him to force me out. And when I drive up at 10:3o at night, get out of the car, and hear that crazy, insane, mind-numbing barking, I don’t mind it at all, because I know my girls are safer with their over-zealous protector around. We’re not the right home for him, and he’s not the right dog for us… but if I tried to tell him that, I doubt he’d agree. And who am I giving him to? Who would I ever trust to take care of my baby? So the frustration, annoyance, and fur will continue, and we’ll just have to make the best of it.
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