Tuesday, January 15, 2013

What I've Learned: (sort of) Owning a Dog

This past week, The Boy and his family went to a wedding in Saskatchewan. In January. Yeah, I don't know either. Over the Christmas holiday, his family and I were discussing the details, including their plans for their bird, Freddy, and dog, Suze. Given the prospect of driving her 3 hours round trip, twice, to stay with family, I volunteered, perhaps somewhat foolishly, to take care of them myself. I've already talked about the challenge of dog ownership here, but this was the first time I had the menagerie on their own. We're on the last day of 6 here and it hasn't all been easy, but it has taught me some important life lessons when it comes to non-human roommates. I share.

1. You will not want to walk. The dog will always want to walk. 

You can not walk, of course. You're the human. You pay the bills. You're in charge. But then they'll look at you like this:
As far as she's concerned, Pupperoni is her one true owner.

Your call still, of course.


I'll get your coat.

2. Some dogs smell, some dogs don't. How close the dog wants to get to you is inversely proportional to how bad they smell.

The boy's previous dog, Eddy, never smelled. He was a fastidious self-cleaner (gross) and, for a big dog never seemed to emit any odours. He mostly kept to himself but would allow you to cuddle him if you'd been particularly good that day.

Suze, by contrast, takes about 4 days post-bath to smell like she's been rolling in garbage (spoiler alert: she has) and cannot wait to get her little muzzle directly underneath your nose. You'd complain but, again, that face.

3. How tired you are is of no relevance to the dog. Especially at 3am. Especially if there's something near you she could be jingling her collar at.

Self-explanatory. My under-eye bags have bags.

4. Dog-walking is all about choice.

Plotting how she'll make you pay for this.
And make no mistake, you'll pay.
You can spend 15 minutes trying to put on the blasted dog booties while man's best friend refuses to lies down and then pulls a "no bones" on you, or you can spend those 15 minutes at the end of the walk, cleaning salt and grit out of her paws using 6 shop towels and a hand-pump of Body Shop coconut hand wash while she refuses to lies down and then pulls a "no bones" on you. It's totally up to you, person-who-is-very-much-in-charge-of-this-situation.

5. Find out how many calories are in a mouthful of dog hair, weight-watchers, because you'll be consuming one every damn time you eat. 

Short of shaving the dog down like a Sphynx cat, you will most likely find yourself pulling parts of the dog out of your mouth at every interval. Which is the closest you're going to get to eating my Lunchable, Suze, so back off.

To say nothing of the clumps of dog hair that now stick defiantly to my living room rug or roll lazily across my kitchen floor. I'm choosing to think of those as urban tumbleweeds, part of my 'western chaos' design scheme.

6. Past behavior does not necessarily indicate future results.

Like, for example, if every other day you've left the garbage on the ground and the dog has remained uninterested in its existence, do not assume you won't come home one evening to find the garbage overturned and its contents strewn willy-nilly around the kitchen. But only when you've just cleaned the kitchen. That's something you can count on.

7. Short of having a baby, nothing makes you more square than a dog.

If I had a nickel for every time I said "I should probably get home to walk the dog" or "I can't, have to see how the dog's doing", then I'd probably have enough money to get a petsitter and stay out for a beer or two. Something about having something completely relying on you for sustenance, entertainment and (in this week's case) company, made me a little nervous when I chose my own activities over hers. Maybe this dissipates in time but for me, it was hard to ignore. I managed to do some fun stuff this week regardless, but there was this stinging feeling in the back of my head every time I agreed to go out instead of going home to walk her. Some might say it was guilt. I say it's more likely her claw digging into my neck, indicating she'd like to go out now.

8. You will worry more than you thought possible.

Full confession: I'm a worrywart at the best of times. I will turn a situation over in my head 1000 times before going to sleep, and then turn it over 1000 times more in my dreams (except now I'll be doing it naked while falling down a flight of stairs in front of my 7th grade crush, natch). So every sniffle, growl, loss of appetite, stumble, howl, disappearance and snore is met with a "Are you okay, Suze?? Tell me!" Which is invariably met with a sneeze, a brow raise, and a return to sleep. Which Google MD tells me means she has full-body cancer.

Suze recuperating after her walk.
Or allowing her cells to reproduce some sort of superbug
from which she will never recover. Either/or.

9. You will miss them so much it's remarkable.

Maybe there's something about the clingyness of a dog, especially this dog, that makes you feel kind of warm and fuzzy inside. Being greeted with all-out excitement is kind of fantastic, even if it's only because they think you're taking them for a walk or giving them their "treat" (joke's on you, dog, it's just your thyroid pill inside a Vache Qui Rit). I'll miss that feeling of being greeted with a little bark and a happy face every day. See, TB? Suze understands why it's nice to say hi to me when I get home instead of continuing to play Skyrim.

BONUS: 10. You will have no fucking clue what the bird's thinking.

Seriously, bird. You puff up, you deflate. You sing for an hour, you stay mute for two days. You spill all the seed on the ground, you want more seed. I don't even know. Learn from the parrots - they're trying to communicate at least.

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