Dog Woes

Do you have pets?  What is your favorite kind of pet?  For me...ducks are my all-time favorite.  They're easy, they're hilariously entertaining, they don't need me to give them their sense of identity.  Second favorite is cats.  Cats are a step above ducks because they sit in your lap and purr and let you pet them, but they're a step down because they crap in a box I have to clean up. 

But lots of people are "dog people."  Hubbs included.  I never have been...not ever.  I see the benefits, I do!  They can be cute, they certainly offer a high level of companionship (I call it being up my arse, but whatev) they can be trained to keep watch of the house or to do awesome things like herd sheep or cattle or save little boys from the well.

Despite all the amazingness dogs can offer, I have done well to keep far, far away from the desire for one.  Sure, the *idea* of a family dog appealed to me from time to time, but I never let the idea lead to desire.  But even an icy heart like mine can be softened...enter a lost baby and an inability to "replace" that baby and when my eldest CRIED tears as we left the WalMart parking lot in Arkansas without a puppy, I choked up and I asked Hubbs to turn back for that sweet, calm white puppy.

Then there were the vet bills-which amounted to about as much as we spend on gas in a month because he was eaten up with fleas and worms and needed shots out the wazoo.

Then it was too cold outside for him (he was not allowed inside full-time until he was trained to stay out from under Hubbs prosthesis.  It is better for the dog this way, I promise) and we had to buy a dog house.

Then it thawed and his poop turned our oasis of a backyard into a mine field of funk.

Then the humping and the next ginormous vet bill of having him neutered.

Then the digging holes in the yard, which led to spankings, nose rubbings and a general dislike on Hubbs part.

Then the chewing of EVERYTHING.
Which led to me feeling bad and asking for 6 weeks, while I took the dog to training (another massive expense we really didn't need) to whip him into a Lassie.  But here we are...5 weeks later...
Why yes...that *is* the insulation they JUST blew in with the new gas pipes.  That's just the latest in Johnny's insulation eating career...he's also eaten the insulation to the water pipes in the guest house (which caused the pipes to freeze) and the insulation off of the a/c units outside.  And yes...he has MANY chew toys.  I've spent a small fortune on dog toys.

What is your breaking point?  At what point do you say, "it's over, dog.  You must find a new place to live."  Is it after he runs away 2x in one week?  Is it after he snaps at your husband or herds your children by nipping their ankles and wrists?  Is it when he eats your kids' toys?

Nah...I prayed through all of those things.  I've begged and pleaded with God to give me compassion and love for Johnny.  He has come through with flying colors (of course!).  He has heaped it on me and despite my serious irritation with Johnny over the last 9 months, I've always bounced back, determined to "make it work."  I've rationalized and conceded and spent way more money on that dog than I've even spent on myself.

But I can't rationalize this:

Note the giant hole and the mud streaks.
That one is completely unsalvageable because, near as I can tell, Johnny ATE the piece of fabric that belongs in that hole.  It's nowhere.  Not in the yard, not in his house, nowhere.
This one I stitched back, oh yes I did. 

See the stitching?  I used a brown thread because it's what I had and I needed to fix it so I could stop crying over it.

It would be different if it were the first time.  Or the second time.  It'd be different if we hadn't been specifically training him to NOT do this for the last 3 weeks.  It'd be different if he didn't destroy things I can't replace.

So here I am-left feeling guilty and awful because every dog-lover's criticism I've ever heard is playing in my head OVER and OVER.  Rhiya's plea that we "CAN'T get rid of THIS ONE."  Pat's considering him such a family member that she included him in her Christmas letter for GOODNESS SAKES!  Gracie-Rayne's tears when he ran away last week, Vi's smile when the dumb dog comes in the house.  And mostly...Little Man.  Johnny is the brother Little Man should have.  They wrestle and play and do things that boys do together.  And it breaks me.  And maybe that's what I'm *really* crying about. 

I feel like I'm losing another dream and it sucks.  Something inside me is begging, "just wait until he's a year old.  Just wait a few more weeks.  But I don't know if I can handle losing more to this dog.  He's eaten the straps out of Little Man's swing, he's chewed the mirrors off of the power wheel, he got into our garage and ate my stockpile.  He's run the grass down and killed my flowers.  ARGH!

This is getting an abrupt stop right now.  I'm not sure what else I can say. 


Gayle said...

I'm going to say it again....get rid of him. It's a damn dog. Not a child. Not a brother. Not a parent. It is an animal that is making all of you miserable. You say the kids aren't miserable.... well, in a way they are because of the stress from there parents. They just can't make the connection. You have an extremely high maintenance work dog (just like heelers I've had in the past). They have to live where they can run or they will destroy everything in sight out of boredom. Sure, I suppose you could follow all the crazy ass thinking of the dog lovers out there and "modify" his behavior, but reality says all you are really going to do is break the spirit of the animal. He will be miserable and so will you when you see he "isn't himself". You made a mistake getting this breed, but that doesn't mean your life has to be hell on earth nor does it mean the dog has to "be broken". Get him a new home, gasp, even take him to the pound (yes, that nice of a breed will be adopted). If the kids have to have a dog then get a breed that is more suitable to your lifestyle. One that is quiet, mellow, doesn't have to run to be happy...golden retreivers are good, but hairy; bassets hounds are extremely lazy but stubborn; cocker spaniels are awesome, but don't get one high strung or it may bite the kids; schnauzers bark a lot, but don't shed; dachshunds are not what you want (I have them, I know); mutts usually end up being the best dogs ever; beagles run away; labs would be worse than what you have; shih tzu's are great, but need groomed; get a rabbit....comes out of the cage, is loved on and goes back. LOL :)

I know I'm a little crass and abrupt, but the dog seriously is not replacing a lost child and the guilt trip you are feeling from the kids is on you.... they will honestly get over it by the afternoon. Your children will NOT be traumatized by the dog being gone... and if they are it is only because an adult is projecting it on them. Kids are amazingly flexible if given the chance.

Everyone who gives endless suggestions on how to "break" the dog has a dog who is a perfect fit. I'm sure they would feel differently if your dog was in their house. (Trust me... I'm actually smarter than I look!). :)

Mary said...

In my own "Mary-way", I agree with Gayle. I basically would say the things she said in my own way, but I don't need to! :)

Anonymous said...

Pets aren't something you bring home one day and discard the next.

Note to Gayle - "Crazy ass dog lovers" are some of the nicest people I know.

The kids will not "get over it by the afternoon". This dog is a living, breathing part of their life and they LOVE him.

Dogs need activity or they will get into trouble; just like children. If you find ways to tire the dog out, he will stop destroying things. Leave a child alone with a box of crayons and you'll end up with walls designed by Crayola.

If you do decide to get "rid" of they dog for it's own good as your friend Gayle has said; remember that shelters kill most dogs after 3 days....

Tara said...

Okay, I will NOT tolerate the nastiness on my blog. If you have something to say to someone, man up, post your name and if it's not directed toward me, find the person you have the beef with and speak with them directly.

There was not one nasty thing in my post, and I will not stand for nastiness on my blog comments, either.

Sabrina said...

Johnny sounds just like Jessie and Zoe. I have replaced I dont know how many sprinkler heads because of them. They have chewed on the swing set we bought, and now recently their little swimming pool I bought them. They just turned 1 in April. I was told by the time they are 2 or 3 they should not chew but they are Labs and chew a lot. I hope yall find something that works for all of yall.