Monday, February 23, 2009

Love - Day 9 (warning, very long!)

Shh. Lean in a little closer. I'm going to tell you a secret. But if you try to tell anyone else, I'll deny it vehemently. You didn't hear this from me, but I love... seriously, you didn't hear this and you better not repeat this... I love my dog.

I'm not a dog person. Never really was, even though I grew up with a dog. I'm more of a cat kinda girl. They're just better animals. They're quiet. They're independent. They sleep a lot. They don't require much care. They are just my kind of pet. Dogs on the other hand? Loud. Rambunctious. Always jumping and running and barking and playing. They need lots of attention and can barely function without a human owner. I don't care for them much.

But we have a dog. She's a 4 1/2 year old yellow lab named Sunny. She's obnoxious as hell. She's got some major issues. MAJOR issues. She has severe separation anxiety and was on Prozac for almost 3 years until it started to destroy her liver. Yes, you read that correctly. I have a dog who was on a human antidepressant because she can't handle us leaving her alone for two seconds. Shoot, she can't handle it if I leave the living room couch to go pee. She's gotta be righttherewithyoueverysinglesecondofeverysingleday, otherwise she shakes and hyperventilates. She's a mess. Unfortunately she's not the first dog that I've had that has separation anxiety and needs medication. How, you must wonder, could I ever be so lucky? I've got to backtrack a bit to tell you how I became the owner, twice over, of mentally unstable dogs when I don't even like dogs.

The most important thing to remember as you read this story is the fact that I'm not a dog person. I like cats. Remember that. It's a very key point. Okay ready? When I started dating Jason in 1998 he told me how much he loved dogs and how he was going to have a basset hound once he moved out of his parents' home and into his own place. That should have been my flashing red light saying GET OUT OF THIS RELATIONSHIP BEFORE IT BECOMES A RELATIONSHIP! He told me that little tidbit very early in our relationship so that I had a chance to walk away. Someone should have knocked some sense into me 'cause I stayed with him anyway. He continued to talk about this damn basset hound that he was going to have one day. Basset hound, basset hound, basset hound. Do you know how ugly they are? How disgustingly stinky they are? How freakin' stupid and stubborn they are? Jason wanted the dumbest dog of the whole canine family! And this was the guy I was falling in love with!? What the heck was I thinking?

Anyway as the weeks turned into months and the months turned into a year or so I fell more and more in love with this man. I tried to talk him out of the whole basset hound dream of his. Wouldn't he prefer a cat? Perhaps a hamster? A fish? A wild raccoon? Anything? Nope. He was adamant. There was no persuading him to change his mind. Jason equaled basset hound. There was not going to be one without the other. Ugh I thought. At this point I knew I wanted to marry him despite the dog thing. I also knew that Jason would never actually propose to me. At least not anytime soon. And I knew that I would one day be the owner of a basset despite my lack of desire for one.

So I concocted a plan. A plan that would get me the man, give the man the dog, and would perhaps give me the opportunity to actually like said dog. I decided to propose to Jason using a basset hound puppy that I picked out as the "engagement ring". I saved up several hundred dollars and picked out a 16 week old female. Oh she was cute in the dumb stinky ugly basset hound way. I liked her... a little. So in March of 2000 I picked Jason up and told him that we were just going to go for a little ride. We drove and drove out into the middle of nowhere. When we got about 1/2 a mile from the home where the dumb puppy was living, I told Jason to get something out of the glove box. When he opened the door, he saw a red collar with a heart-shaped tag that said "Will you marry me?". He didn't say "Yes" or "No" or had any response to the question asked on the tag. All he said over and over again was "Did you get me my basset hound? Did you!? Did you?! Oooh I'm getting my basset hound!!" He didn't even care that I was proposing. He was too excited about that damn puppy. Eventually he came to his senses and stopped thinking of the stupid dog long enough to say "of course I'll marry you". But it was a short lived moment and then he was back to bouncing around in the car excited about the dog.

We picked up the dog and brought her home and named the pup Emma. We should have just named her Evil or Devil or Psycho or Stop-Crapping-on-the-Table-You-Stupid-Vile-Hound. At the time we were living in a 3rd floor apartment. We bought her a crate and thought that life was going to be good. Oh and it was, for Jason and Emma. But for me? It was a living nightmare. The dog hated me and I think I hated her even more.

Jason and I worked opposite shifts. I would be home during the day with her and would work in the evenings. When Jason was with her she was a perfect angel. She was quiet and good and would go potty for him. They would cuddle together on the couch or would "spoon" in bed. They loved each other and couldn't keep their eyes off of one another. It was sickening. She would growl and physically try to come between Jason and I if we were sitting on the couch together and I'd lean in for a kiss. When I was with her, she barked incessantly at me. I would take her downstairs to go potty. She'd pee a little and then we'd come upstairs and she'd pee on the floor right in front of me. She pooped in her crate and laid in it whenever I left her home for a little while so that I'd have to clean it and her up. All the time! She once peed on my side of the bed. In my bed!! The b***h! Oh and the best thing that she ever did to me? Just to prove how much she hated me? You're really not going to believe this. In our apartment, as soon as you walked in the door, there was our dining room table to your left. We would place the mail, our keys, our baseball caps (I wore one all the time back then) on that table. It was basically our catchall. One day Jason and I both had our hats sitting side by side on the table. Devil dog pushed the chair enough to be able to climb up on the table and, I kid you not, she crapped on my cap, on the DINING ROOM TABLE! She didn't even get one tiny Hershey kiss-sized piece of poop on Jason's hat! I had to throw away my favorite cap in the whole world because the dog hated me so much. I'll never forgive her for that.

I put up with that hateful mutt for two years. Two long miserable awful years. Jason couldn't understand why I was so upset. He didn't believe half the stuff I told him that she would do to me. She made me cry all the time. At this point we had two children, Riley was only a few months old. Emma was peeing and pooping all over the floor anytime I was home alone with her. I told Jason that she had to leave because we had a baby that needed to be able to play on the floor and there was no way I was going to allow my baby girl to crawl around on crap-laden floors. Jason said that it wasn't fair for him to have to get rid of his dog, that she was like his baby. I told him either she goes or the kids and I will pack our stuff and we'll leave. I wasn't going to live another day with that dog in my home.

He finally agreed to get rid of her. The dog that brought us together as man and wife nearly caused our divorce. We found a home for her with a friend who was a dog person. She had several dogs and trained them. Guess what? After a week of having Emma she returned her to us!! That's how awful she was. Eventually we found a home for her with a person who had other bassets. We've received a few updates on her over the years and supposedly she's a wonderful, calm, loving, GOOD dog. Good for them. I'm glad I don't ever have to see her again in my life.

Now after having had such a horrible experience with Emma, you'd think I'd never have another dog in my home as long as I live, right? Unfortunately, Jason's love affair with four-legged barking friends didn't die just because Emma left. He wanted another dog. Our two kids wanted a dog. So when we bought our first home in 2005 I agreed to allowing them to have a dog. But I told them that I would get to choose the breed. We decided on a golden retriever. They're beautiful, very family oriented dogs. I figured that'd be a good match for us.

We decided to go through a Golden Retriever rescue. We applied for adoption of a golden and was accepted. We were just waiting for the right dog to become available for our family. In the middle of this whole process, I read an ad on Craigslist about a free Yellow Lab. I told Jason about it and we decided to check it out. Hey, it was still a retriever so it'd be a good family dog, but she'd be free! Sunny was 9 months old at the time that we met her. The family had another lab, both of the parents had full-time 12/hr a day jobs, and a three year old deaf and autistic son. They didn't have the time or the energy to deal with Sunny (who was named Dakota at the time). Sunny had been getting in trouble at the home and they were fed up with her.

Jason and I thought that she just needed some one-on-one attention and a little bit of discipline and she'd be just fine. She needed rescuing from the home that she was in. So we brought her home that day. She did pretty well with us. Though we discovered that she had severe separation anxiety. We kept her in a crate and she would literally freak out. We tried leaving her out of the crate when we went anywhere and she was a mess that way too. It got so bad that our neighbor called the cops on us and we were told that if she continued to bark when we left the house that we would be fined $1000 from the borough because we were breaking a noise ordinance! We tried all kinds of therapy and behavior modification for her to get her to get over the separation anxiety. Eventually we took her to the vets and she was put on the Prozac.

After that she was a totally different dog. We got rid of the crate and things were good for a couple of years, as long as she had her Happy Pills. Unlike Emma, Sunny became super attached to me. I have been okay with it 'cause it sure as hell beats having a dog that hates your guts and shows you her dislike for you. Unfortunately we found out in September that the Prozac was destroying her liver and could end up killing her. We didn't have a choice but to take her off the meds. She's done okay without them, but lately her anxiety is getting worse and worse. The good thing is we live far enough from our neighbors that we don't have to worry about the cops being called on us.

This post was supposed to be about how I love Sunny and it turned into a whole "How come I hated Emma" spiel. So what do I love about our latest mentally unstable canine? Well for one, she likes me. That helps tremendously. She's also great with our kids, which is so important. She allows Matthew to pull on her tail or her ears, sit on her back, fuss with her paws and she just lays there and takes it without once showing any irritation or aggression towards the baby. Very very important 'cause her butt would be out on the street if she ever snapped at the kids. Oh and she's LAZY and low maintance, much like a cat. She sleeps all day long. She doesn't need to go outside every 15 minutes when I'm home alone with her, but the minute Aus gets home from school, she needs to go out about 6 times in a row. Sunny loves to cuddle up next to me on the couch. She makes a great arm rest.

She's just a hundred times better than Emma ever was. Having such a horrid dog in the beginning really made me learn to appreciate how good of a dog Sunny is, despite the anxiety. She has her moments when I'd just like to string her by her nails and hang her from the ceiling fan cause she can really piss me off too, but for the most part I like having her around. Just don't tell Jason.

Oh and speaking of Jason, he now has dreams of owning a Saint Bernard. HA! I told him he's gonna have to find a new wife first. There's no way we're getting one of those!


McKay Family said...

Must remember to refrain from reading your blog when I am sick...laughing and coughing does not mix!

Le@nne said...

I love the way you tell a story! I'm glad you've come to love Sunny :) Thanks for the laugh x

Cori said...

LOL, Meg. I just posted my post, and it's the same thing almost except about my cats. :-)

Traci said...

This post was just too funny.