Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Dog People

"Dogs don't shit where they sleep." The first time I heard this was my first year in law school, and a 3L said it to us as a warning to not date other students in our section. (Which advice I ignored, of course. And, of course, not only did I have to see the guy every day for the entire year, we now live in the same town and I periodically have to studiously ignore him when I see him shopping at Publix.) Up until two weeks ago, I thought that this saying was figurative, but now that we are dog owners, I have learned that dogs really don't shit where they sleep. Thank goodness, because they are happy to shit anywhere else.

We picked up our little puppy in Virginia, very early on the last day of our whirlwind D.C. "vacation." Sister was nice enough to drive the K and the Girl to the breeder in Clarke County, which is about 65 miles from Washington. This meant that they left the hotel at o'dark thirty in the morning so that we could all still make our flight home. Sister sent this picture of the Girl and her new friend:

I know. Very cute.

She was still cute when we met her in person at the combination dog walk and smoking area at Reagan-National Airport:

The cute thing only lasts for so long. Now that I know this puppy a little better, I can't tell you how surprised I am that she is not lurching at the leash to eat those cigarette butts.

Just between you, me and the Internet (I guess that would be among us), I don't really like dogs. They're just like these furry jumping, licking, pooping, humping, butt-smelling creatures. I recently read that a "major" University of Texas study showed that dog people are "more extroverted, more agreeable, and more conscientious" than cat people. Cat lovers were found to be "less traditional, more creative, and more neurotic." A few questions: (1) what is going on at UT that they're doing studies on cat people and dog people? 2) Do you know a Texan with a cat? There is no way that this study wasn't inherently biased. (3) Who funded this study, the dog lobby? I smell a Rat. Terrier. Based on this (likely to be flawed) survey, I meet 2/3 of the cat person criteria. Since I'm a SAHM who never met an oxford cloth button down shirt that I didn't like and I don't have a single tattoo, I can't really claim to be "less traditional." But, I suppose I could be described as creative-ish and I'm definitely neurotic. The question is, am I dog-person enough to adjust to life with Dog?

A pro-con list would be a logical exercise to do before you get a dog, but time and time again, I have proven that I refuse to listen to sound advice or make rational decisions. Thus, I am just now making my list about the advantages and disadvantages of having Dog.

Things I like about Dog

Dog Is Afraid of Other Dogs - When she hears another dog barking, she races to get inside the house. I'm sure that dog people would recognize this as a sign that she has major problems, but it makes me like her better.

Dog Rarely Barks - She may whine when she's in her crate, but Dog remains stoically silent in most circumstances in which most other dogs would be barking like crazy. We were at the Boy's soccer practice yesterday and saw a couple each walking three little Shih Tzus or similarly petite dogs. The Shih Tzus were going bonkers, barking and carrying on. The Baby was spooked by the six dogs, so I picked her up and then poor Dog started looking panicked. I leaned over and Dog took a flying leap up into my arms. Thus, I was carrying the Baby, who, in turn, was carrying Dog. Dog never, ever barked during the whole ordeal.

Dog Sleeps A Lot - This is good for both of us. Frankly, after caring for three needy creatures all the time, the last thing I need is something else requesting lemonade and Goldfish as soon as the children are at school. Dog and I both enjoy her nap times.

Dog Is Tolerant of Overly-Enthusiastic Children - At the six Shih Tzu park we also encountered a group of puppy-loving children. We were mobbed (I am not exaggerating) by a gaggle of children all of whom wanted a piece of Dog. One little girl (who appeared to be totally unsupervised, even though she was only four) insisted on holding Dog's leash about three inches up from her collar and yanking on her until I forcibly pried her fingers from the leash. Another girl tried to pet Dog, but mostly just took some swipes at the back of her head. A sweet older boy who appeared to be autistic wanted to know all of Dog's stats, "What is her length from nose to tail?" he asked. "Um, I'm not sure," I said, apologetically. "What is the weight?" "She's about five pounds," I said. "Breed?" he questioned. "Cavalier King Charles and Bichon Frise mix," I said, over my shoulder as Dog pulled me towards the remnants of a weekend barbecue that were spread across the ground. I was totally overwhelmed by this attention, but Dog was totally fine and completely focused on scrounging up some stale, wet potato chips from the grass.

Imagine that Harry Styles (in the green shirt) of One Direction is Dog.
This is like the mob scene of children we encountered at the park. 
Dog May Help the Boy Conquer his Dog Phobia - I can't remember if I've ever shared that the Boy is terrified of dogs. He was always apprehensive around dogs, but when he was about six our neighbor's bulldog escaped, crossed the street ran down the sidewalk, up on to our front lawn and attacked the Boy. Because the Boy was terrified, he turned to run away from the bulldog, but the bulldog grabbed his pants leg, knocked him over and jumped on his back and started biting him. Luckily, the K was close by and he grabbed the dog off the Boy and threw it into another neighbor's fenced-in front yard. Physically, the Boy got off lucky with just some foot-long scrape marks down his back from where the dog tried to hang on to him with his claws while the K was pulling him off. But, the experience was majorly traumatic for the Boy and the K, who actually had nightmares about the experience for weeks afterwards. The bulldog was at the end of his lifespan and was probably suffering from some kind of dementia, but obviously this didn't help the Boy's phobia. We have been told that the best thing to help the Boy conquer his fears is to gradually expose him to dogs who will not harm him. Dog is energetic, like all puppies, but at five pounds she's much more vulnerable to being hurt by the Boy than vice versa. The Boy isn't there yet, but we're working on getting him to be comfortable being in the same room with Dog.

Dog Means the Baby isn't the Baby Anymore - I love the Baby dearly, but she milks being the baby for everything it's worth. Up until two weeks ago, she was the family pet and enjoyed making us all laugh with her antics:

Why yes, I can cross one of my eyes. 
Dog has made her act noticeably more grown up. She says that she is not the youngest any more and darned if she hasn't stepped up to take more responsibility by helping train Dog and taking her out for walks with me. She has been used to getting the most attention because she is the youngest and, by her nature, squawks the loudest. Now, she has to share attention with Dog and it's been a fantastic learning experience for her and will hopefully prevent her from being the most high-maintenance girlfriend and wife to some poor guy someday. Or girl. Whatever. As long as someone else is helping her readjust her sock seam, I don't particularly care.

Dog Teaches the Girl Some Responsibility - Dog is really the Girl's early birthday present. She swore up and down that she would help walk the dog and train the dog and pick up after the dog. All thing considered, she has done a pretty good job, albeit with some nagging on my part. Partially, this is because two days after we returned home we finally took the Girl to the doctor and discovered that she had a broken foot. Thus, she has been in a walking boot for the last two weeks.

This boot was made for walkin'. Not really.

Yes, yes, I did make her hobble around on a broken foot for nine days, including walking around Washington, D.C. But, guys, I got her a puppy. That has to be worth something.

She's Cute - Dog is cute and soft and furry and she's always happy to see me. But, the Baby is still all these things, as well. Yes, the Baby is slightly furry. I'm sure that electrolysis will take care of it. That's just the price you pay for being the only one in the family who can tan.

Things I Do Not Like About Dog

The World (Excluding her Bed) is Her Toilet - My worst parenting moments occurred while I was potty-training my children and here I am, at it again with a creature who doesn't understand anything I'm saying. Both of those times (I'll spare you the details) I called the K and told him to pick up our children on the curb if he still wanted them, because I was done. Yes, I successfully potty trained three children, but it was not easy and I was not good or efficient at it. The best thing I can say about Dog is that she hasn't peed down a heating register like one of my children. I hope that this will get better, but...

Fleas - I am highly allergic to flea bites and at the end of last week, my ankles were on fire with bites. In a panic, I had the house exterminated on Friday and Dog got some pills from the vet that were guaranteed to kill the fleas on her in thirty minutes. I'm sure they also destroyed her kidneys or temporarily blinded her, but, honestly, I didn't even care. Dog and the children and I all had to stay out of the house for six freaking hours while the poison dissipated. I also had to vacuum the entire house before the flea treatment and after the treatment. Oh, and the K was in Puerto Rico for "work" Thursday through Sunday evening. Also, the Boy had a baseball game on Sunday and his gear was...in the K's car at the airport so I had to drive to the airport on Sunday morning to find the K's car in the parking lot and get the Boy's baseball stuff out of the trunk. What does this have to do with fleas? Absolutely nothing, but it was a huge pain in the ass and I want to complain about it.

Dog Needs Me - I know this is a weird thing to say, but I'm really having a hard time giving to another being. All of you with more than three kids, my hat, my coat, my entire wardrobe is off to you. I am standing here naked (apologies) because I don't know how you have that much to give. I love my children and my husband, but they all require so much of me. Even if they aren't asking me for anything, I still worry about them. It's really exhausting to be so emotionally invested in the well-being of people who are depending upon you to be strong. There was an old saying that a mother loses a tooth for every child. I'm not sure if this is literal (like the dog not shitting in its bed), but I can say that I completely identify with the spirit of the saying. I may not have literally lost teeth over my children, but I spend a lot of time worrying about them and I have the dental bite guard to prove it. It's really hard to imagine getting invested in a dog to a similar degree.

Dog Forces Me to Meet Other People - Dog is really cute, which isn't her fault, but she attracts attention and makes people happy. These people feel like they need to talk to me because Dog is attached to me and then I have to act happy to talk to them, when really all I want is for Dog to shit and pee so I can take her back inside so I can Google-stalk the Property Brothers. Some of these people are super enthusiastic dog people and being the extroverted, agreeable folks that UT proved they are, they really want to engage me in all sorts of dog talk. Meanwhile, neurotic old me just wants to go home and read the Wikipedia entry on Sean Young to figure out if she was the Amanda Bynes of her time, or the Lindsay Lohan of her times. I'm going with Lindsay.

Dog Needs to Be Watched Like a Hawk When Not in the Crate - As I write this, Dog is freely roaming around our family room and I am working on my touch typing because I have to watch her every move in case she is struck by the sudden urge to squat down and relieve herself. On the plus side,  I was supposed to master in touch typing in 9th grade and it doesn't hurt to improve my technique. On the negative side, it makes me really anxious to watch her all the time because I'm just anticipating the squat.

Dog Eats Random Probably Poisonous Stuff Off the Ground - Dog's favorite activity when I take her outside for a potty break is to eat the mulch out of our garden beds. Her second favorite activity is eating the pecan shells that litter our yard at this time of year. I yank the stuff out of her mouth and say, "No!" but she keeps doing it. I know dog people, this is my fault for not training her properly. At this point, I'm fairly certain that mulch and pecan shells will not immediately kill her if chewed and swallowed, so if she eats a few I'm not going to sweat it too much. Go ahead, call the Humane Society on me. I already have DFCS after me for the Girl's foot.

Step away from the mulch.
So, there you have it, my retroactive pro-con list. In looking at my con list, I see that many of my points involve me being inconvenienced by Dog or Dog requiring me to do things outside of my comfort zone. So, having Dog will make me more agreeable (by accepting these inconveniences), and more extroverted (by having to meet new people), and conscientious (by keeping up with her potty breaks and outside time). So, the way I see it, it's having Dog that will turn me into a dog person.

Hmmm, I'm thinking logical fallacy, University of Texas researchers. Then again, maybe I'm just being neurotic.


  1. Glad I took the time to read this. My kids have been begging me for a dog and I did not even think about the fact that it will invite strangers to talk to me. Yikes. Another reason to think about it some more...

    1. Dog people love to talk to other dog people. I feel like I've gotten a glimpse into a benign cult of extroverts.

  2. One of the things I love about you is that you are dogged but not dogmatic

  3. I will be sure to ignore you when I see you walking dog in the hood. One of the Mophead boys wants a puppy for his birthday next week. He's not getting one. I'll just send him down to your house.

    1. If I ever get the dog to walk properly on a leash, that is. She's not making much progress in that regard, which has everything to do with ME not making much progress in that regard. Tell Mophead, Jr. that if wants to practice dog training, I have a candidate!

  4. I love your slant on life events and your posting about life with Dog!

    1. Thanks! I'm sure there will be more Dog exploits to come. Unlike the children, she can't be embarrassed in the future if I tell stories about her!