Monday, August 1, 2011

My Jumbled Jack Confession

Everyone knows puppies are  a lot of work.  They require the constant eagle eye.  Are they peeing?  Well, that depends.  Are you watching?  Because the second you crane your head away in a different direction, they are apt to squat.  Or so it seems.  Are they chewing?  Probably.  As long as you wear them out, they are good doggies.  And if you give them structure and be consistent with your instructions, they will obey eventually.  All it takes to raise a puppy is time and tenacity, and a few squeaky toys and chew bones to save your furniture and shoes.   And you are rewarded with fuzzy love for their whole lives.

The problem is time.  Or maybe more accurately: timing. 
For the past week everything in our lives had screeched to a halt.  D managed to fix the shingles, getting up on the roof a few days after work.  But with him up there, I had to be with puppy.  I tried to get some work done outside and let him run free but maybe he hasn’t figured out games yet.  And on Thursday and Friday a new and pushy part of Jack's personality emerged.  Jack suddenly would not play fetch with the ball you threw, he would come over and be immovably and directly in the way.  I tried to move some of the bricks and pull up some vines from the vine orgy pile, but the puppy was always where you needed to put your feet, or standing on the twigs you were trying to pull up, or picking up your trowel in his jaws and running off to hide in the honeysuckle (this was my least favorite puppy pasttime).  I did not want to play just then, puppy, so I would ignore him and in turn he would show his displeasure by nipping at my hands as I tried to work.  This is not acceptable dog behavior, so you’d have to correct him.  If I didn't pay attention to him he started ripping up bunches of grass by the roots with his teeth, bunch by bunch, rip rip rip (because grass offends him?).  He also started digging in the side garden, and dragging twigs and dead roots off of the pile and into the middle of the yard.  Jack, stop being a dick!  I said.  It did no good because puppies don't speak english. 

In short it was difficult to get the barest essentials done, even cooking.  While you were trying to cook dinner, doggie was knocking over the plants, or tearing the weather-stripping from the front door (facepalm), or thinking of peeing, or actually peeing.  This was Mr. Hyde Jack, who emerged in the last few days.  Dr. Jeckyll Jack just sat quietly with Mr. Fox, played catch, came when called, didn't pee in his cage and was a good boy.  That was the dog we brought home for the visit at the beginning of this week.  It was very confusing.  And as much as we liked him, were were starting to feel that he was very much in the way

After one month we still couldn’t find anything in the house, because we’re playing with the dog and Mr. Fox, and cleaning up pee, and going for walkies.  Just taking him outside on to potty was a ten minute ordeal because you had to take him out on his leash for potty time so that he  doesn’t confuse play time (not on leash) with potty time but he often got confused and wanted to play anyway, and wouldn’t potty.  The one on doggie-duty  would have to be stalwart and repeat “go potty, go potty, go potty” until finally his evacuation gave us almost as much relief as it did him.  

We hadn’t even had time to fold and put away laundry, all of our clothes were still in bins or laundry baskets. Boxes that we shoved into the basement a month ago are still down there.  That would be fine except there is waterproofing to be done, those boxes can't stay there.  We have the pile of concrete.  We have the valley of earth that needs to be re-built and sloped away from the house.  We need drainage pipes installed.  We need to pull up boards from the deck to re-grade the earth that is sending water to cascade into the side of the house (and into the basement).  The kitchen was only half put away with boxes in the middle of the floor containing whatever implements we inevitably were searching for.  The office was full of boxes and cords are strewn like tripwires in front of my desk.  The hall was full of boxes. 

D and I weren't convinced about keeping this dog.  No question he’s adorable.  But we have this practical (/heartless) side that says, “this is another project and we don’t need this right now.”  D’s moment of truth came when the dog began acting out.  Thursday and Friday were rough.  He was peeing in his crate, barking at D, willfully disobeying commands that we know Jack knows.  And when D was going to let him out he looked him straight in the eye and then peed on the floor (Jack peed, not D.  D is housebroken).  My moment came when we found that Jack had bit Max in the face. 

"Effing dog."

Jack's teeth sunk in above Max’s right eye and into Max’s ear.  We didn’t see it happen.  We didn’t know it had happened.  Then Max began to systematically box the dog whenever it came near him.  We were pleased the first time we saw it.  “Max is asserting himself!” we cheered.  Then it kept happening, and it was obvious that Max wasn’t neutral on Jack anymore.  Even going so far as to wait by the doorway, trapping the dog in the hallway.  Jack couldn’t get go near the doorway without getting thwapped in the head, and was too timid to go past Max.  This was a pretty big shift in their dynamic, we thought.  I picked up Max to comfort him, and saw the red marks where he had been bitten.  A pair of wounds like a vampire bite, where the dog had drawn blood. 

Animals need supervised interaction.  Dog requires attention and training.  We have jobs.  We have home-work that has to be done before winter.   Something had to give.  D admitted that even after about a week he hadn’t fallen in love with the dog.  If both of us weren’t absolutely sure about this, I reasoned, it wasn’t a good idea.  I relented to practicality, and agreed we should return the dog, perhaps to pick him up again in a few weeks and adopt him for real.  Or maybe we even pick a different dog.  A calmer dog.  And Jack was being a real pain.  And after all, I hadn’t fallen in love with the dog either.  Famous last words. 

I teared up and said my goodbyes to the doggie.  D & I petted him and held him, and my lip was all a-quiver.  And then we went outside and I began to cry.  And I cried in the car.   I teared up again when we got home, and D, desperate to cheer me up brought me a kitty to sit with me for a bit.  I was feeling really down.  I didn’t want to do anything.  But we had gotten rid of the dog so that we could get back to work, and so I got up and moving.  We got a lot done, I have to admit.  Almost all of the boxes are cleared from the bedroom and things are put away for the first time.  The kitchen is almost 100% unpacked, and we have a swath of empty boxes to tear down and throw away.  We even have some boxes ready to donate to Goodwill.  No question we've made one big step.


But I'm sad, which is why this post is un-edited and babbling.  Last night I missed the soft little puppy and his hilarious, big-footed romping, and the way he looked when he just sat with Mr. Fox, chewing on his fuzzy body absentmindedly.  No more  little floppy ears flipping inside out, making him look like a bat.  No more cuddle-face into my leg.  Last night felt very lonely. No walkies.  No squeaking of Mr. Fox.  I missed him this morning, if you can believe it.  You can’t oversleep with a dog.  Even me, and I am a chronic oversleeper if left to my own devices.  It’s just us now.  D and I, Yuuki and Max.  I don’t know if we’ll adopt Jack in the end.  Behavior issues to correct, definitely.  But a good dog.  I don’t know if we’ll go with a different dog.  An older, calmer one. We at least have to wait until after we have finally unpacked and handled the drainage issue.  Or maybe its best we just enjoy life with the kitties and forget this doggie nonsense.  For now, though, I can’t forget.

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