Doggone It! Where’s My Doggie?

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I am severely dog-deprived. I smile at every canine within yards of me and pat any whose companion humans give me permission.

Today I accidentally happened upon a blog post someone wrote about the loss of her pup.  She included a video of him, in his prime, singing what she assured us was “Happy Birthday to You.” It made me weep.

My grandnephew and his fiancée have a dog that might well have been a disaster. Much to our dismay, they acquired him from a pet store, where he’d spent the first six months of his life in a crate.

But he is now a wonderful, lovable mush, nicely trained, and I would dognap him in a millisecond if I could get away with it. 

I’ve heard that rescued dogs are aware of their good fortune and express their gratitude with good humor and special devotion. I don’t know whether there’s science behind this claim, but I choose to believe it.

(I’ve learned, though, that there are clear exceptions. Please bear with me here.)

I do have two wonderful granddogs, as well as a lovely grandcat, but they are not within the daily/hourly stroke-and-cuddle distance necessary for my fixation.  

Are you wondering why I don’t have a dog? My husband, himself a dog aficionado, is emphatic that our fourth dog was our last. To some extent, this is a body-clock-based dispute. He is an early riser who hits the gym daily before 7 am. I am, well, not. 

He maintains that adding the walking and feeding of a dog to his morning routine simply isn’t feasible. I have promised I would arise early, care for this soon-to-be-beloved being, and go back to sleep.

Although he is not seriously hard of hearing, this affirmation has fallen on deaf ears.

In fact, his resistance is based, at least in part, on our experiences with dog #4—a caramel-colored rescue shipped up from the Carolinas that had the sweetest face and warm brown eyes.

But we ignored what we later realized was a warning sign from our first meeting with Lexi. She was fine with me, but she barked at my husband—a lot. 

The adoption folks assured us it was because of his hat. He removed it. She persisted.

Nevertheless, we were both determined to find a furry companion two years after the loss of our treasured Vic—a collie-shepherd gentle giant—also a rescue, a dog we knew at the outset was ours. Or he knew and chose us: as we walked by his wire enclosure,  he stood up on his hind legs and wrapped his arms, that is forelegs, around us, holding tight with his paws. 

In retrospect, we should have compared that scene with our introduction to Lexi. In retrospect, we should have done a lot of things differently. In retrospect, we should have said, “Sorry; this isn’t the dog for us.”

Instead, we took Lexi home, and thus began 5 months of hell and thousands of dollars spent on training—lots and lots of training, beds (she shredded them), toys (she destroyed them), the best quality food to make sure she got all her nutrients.

We tried a variety of leads and leashes to see what might gently but effectively restrain her from taking off after squirrels on the multiple daily walks we gave her to ensure she used up enough energy to settle down. 

And then there was the dog park visit when my daughter—a professional dog trainer—and her husband were in town visiting and trying to help. Free to roam off the leash, Lexi instead attacked my son-in-law’s brand-new coat, tearing a large gash that was unmendable.

She terrorized our poor cat, who’d been Vic’s best friend. (I’ve written about their relationship previously.) That meant we had to keep Lexi and the cat apart with all sorts of gates and other paraphernalia.

Oh, yes—another thing. Although her papers stated that she’d been spayed, the rescue service representative told us she couldn’t find the scar. But no worries: if Lexi were to go into heat, they would cover the costs of subsequently spaying her. So it wasn’t a complete surprise…

We then had to be on the lookout for the neighborhood rakes that were drawn to Lexi’s newly acquired aphrodisia perfume. Here, the elements were not in our favor.

Although we had a fenced-in yard, it was a rough winter, and an enormous snow pile provided just the boost Lexi needed to scale the fence. Solution: quickly surrounding the yard with a much higher fence. Ka-ching! Add that to the toll on our daughters’ inheritances.

Once Lexi’s heat period was over, the spaying occurred—followed, of course, by the large plastic cone she had to wear around her neck to prevent her from tearing the stitches. Just another source of misery for her and for us.

But the issue that makes me understand my husband’s resistance most clearly was the “game” that Lexi ultimately invented.

For several nights, as we were having dinner, she walked around the table to my husband’s chair, pushed her adorable snout through the open slats, and nipped his behind. She then slowly walk away, seemingly very pleased with herself. Our remedy was to isolate her in part of the kitchen, an act that increased her frustration.

Lexi was not without redeeming social values. She was extremely quick to learn commands (except in the presence of squirrels), and she loved scavenger hunts for treats, which she readily found wherever we hid them. 

Despite her charms, why we put up with all this for so long escapes me now. But we were dog people: we figured eventually we’d get it right. When our dog-training daughter said sympathetically, “You’ve done everything you could,” we knew what our next steps had to be. 

The rescue service found a foster home for Lexi, and we drove her there with considerable sadness. During the long drive to a rural area, I sat with her in the back seat, a bit teary as she placed her head in my lap and looked up at me with those lovely, expressive eyes.

We left her with a family that had several other dogs and children and wide open spaces where she could run around. She didn’t look back as we drove away.

We recognized, at long last, that Lexi and we were simply not a good fit. She needed a more active life and more diverse companionship than we could provide.  We hope she eventually found both in what the animal rescue community calls a “forever home.”

I have a friend with a connection to a group that places German Shepherds. These are wonderful dogs but they’ve failed guide dog training for some reason that would not prevent them from being fine pets. 

I am waiting for the right moment to broach this possible source of the dog of my dreams to my husband. Do you think he’ll bite?

Annie

18 thoughts on “Doggone It! Where’s My Doggie?

  1. Instagram photos of pups are getting me through the, um, current political climate. After my friend Brian Williams signs off on MSNBC, I prop my feet up on my 15-year-old dog pal and see what Bosco and his Big Stick, Walter the Chi, and the adoptables at the LA Dog Cafe are up to—along with numerous other canines on social media. Hershel doesn’t mind as long as they remain outside our house. How about a low-energy dog too short to reach the table and those seated at it? Hershel, though he does need a 3 am trip to the yard, does not get up until I do, even though my husband goes to the gym early!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Cindy. Great to hear from you! Alas, I doubt looking at photos of other dogs will gratify my need, but I appreciate the suggestion. As for short dogs, the spouse in question would not go for that.
      I hope you’re able to fall asleep again after Hershel’s 3 am yard work…

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  2. My Mrs and I are not dog people. Well, we like other peoples’ dogs just fine. We are, I suppose, just not ready for the responsibility. Perhaps if I lived alone I might crave the companionship.

    But I certainly understand how someone can become very attached to a loving dog. I hope you resolve your doglessness in a mutually agreeable way soon.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, JP. It is a big responsibility for sure.
      We are about to enter the discussion phase…perhaps with the benefit of our daughters’ insights. Our older daughter remarked at one point that it took her a while to realize not all families stop to talk to every canine they see on the street. (Makes for some pretty time-consuming outings…)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, I like other people’s dogs just fine too. I’m surprised I like dogs as much as I do, I got bit a few times as a kid. We lived in farm country and we knew to fear strange dogs, because they were often dangerous.
        When my wife and I walk in the neighborhood we sometimes feel like we should have a dog, because everyone else seems to these days.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Sorry for your unfortunate childhood experiences. My daughter was bitten by the next-door neighbor of a playmate when she was young, but she went on to become a wonderful professional dog trainer! There’s no doubt that some dogs can be dangerous, though the reasons are often that they feel threatened or have been abused.

        As an update to my post, we just returned from the wedding of the young couple whose dog I covet–the one that began life in a pet store crate. He walked down the aisle, wearing a little white bow tie, and behaved like a perfect gentledog–even as swarms of total strangers approached him from all angles.

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  3. We had dogs when the kids were young. Of course the kids left but the dogs didn’t. When our last dog, Lucy, had to be put down I insisted we go dog free for awhile. Retired. Free of kids.Free of dogs. That lasted about 4 years. My wife wanted another dog. We both knew that meant we had to live our lives differently.
    We found a place that brings up rescue dogs from Kentucky. I guess many folks in Kentucky don’t believe in “fixin'”their dogs. So, they have an abundance that they send to kill shelters. My wife wanted one dog. I insisted that IF we had to have dogs again (which I was not happy about) we get two so they could companion each other when we we not home. Otherwise a lonely dog can get very destructive.
    So, 2 years ago we acquired a couple of mutts. A border collie mix puppy that was named “Teddy” and a terrier mix that I renamed “Auggie” (he was “Owen”). Well, Teddy is a dog’s dog and loves to run and comes on command…when he feels like it. Auggie is an exceptionally needy little guy who is smart as can be . Something happened in his previous life which has made him have extreme anxiety every time I try to leave the house. When I am on vacation for 10 days and return he cries and bites and jumps and goes absolutely bananas for about 10 minutes. Same when I leave to golf for a couple hours.
    They both sleep with us, Auggie usually manages to snuggle under my wife’s ear or under my neck. He is a dog who needs an emotional support dog. Or maybe I am his emotional support human. He won’t let me out of his sight.
    So, how have our lives changed. Well, I had to have a chain link fence installed in the back yard so they have a safe place to run. My new retirement job is picking up dog feces in plastic bags. Since my wife can no longer ride her horse and had to give it away we fenced in the back pasture (1000 feet) so the dogs have a real nice place to run.
    Oh…one more thing…since our grown daughter has moved in “temporarily” and brought her two dogs we now have a real pack. Luckily they all get along although play can sometimes get a bit ruff.
    While they are pains and inconvenient I could not see ever giving them away. Auggie is so attached and loving and Teddy is always so hopeful that it is time for a walk!
    Still, I recall the mornings when I was NOT awoken by a wet tongue in my ear at 5:30 and could leave the house without a little canine grabbing at my trousers trying to make me stay. But, now that Auggie and Teddy are part of the “family” what am I to do?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’ve summed up the pros and cons very well. And I’ve had the idea of two dogs in mind for some time, but I don’t dare raise it in my quest for one. In addition, the one time we had two dogs, we used to have what we called “dog wars” at the front door whenever the doorbell rang. Companionship is not the word that comes to mind.
      I love your description of Auggie needing an emotional support dog—or your serving him in that capacity.
      Our yard is ready with its now-high fence—not quite a pasture, but big enough for some serious dog running.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Well, I hear your love and frustration loud and clear, Annie. I imagine you will be hearing from all sorts of dog lovers with the post, yours truly included. We lost our beloved dog after a long and beautiful life (20 years), and our cat — who had so many more years ahead! — the same lousy week. Though this was some months ago, I don’t think I’m over this yet, and possibly never will be. There are those well-intentioned friends who suggest the only “cure” is to run out and adopt a new member of the family, and maybe we will, but there’s no replacing lost loves. (Though as I write, a close family member is going through a divorce. He claims that there certainly is a path to replacing lost loves, hence the new girlfriend, but possibly this isn’t instructive here, because we all know that our dogs love us like no other . . . ) There was an artist in our state of Vermont who created Dog Mountain, a monument of sorts to our dogs where those who lost their beloveds could come and post remembrances, notes, photos. He didn’t expect it to attract the hordes that have, through the years, made their way. Maybe a trip here would convince your husband of the magnitude of your loss? Your Lexi has a new home (and good for you; wasn’t easy) but now your home is empty. And that’s the point, right?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I recall hearing about your double whammy of dog and cat loss so close together—and I certainly understand the lingering pain.
      Your comparing the divorce with a lost pet is priceless. I do think it’s relevant, though. Our first dog, a doxie mix, aptly fit the appellation given to female dogs, and showed little devotion. When we got our second dog, a much sweeter but submissive retriever mix, dog #1 commenced the behavior I’ve described to another respondent as “dog wars.”
      I’d love to visit Dog Mountain. Maybe…?

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  5. HI Annie,
    Currently, have a similar problem. 2 current rescues: one a sweetheart and one an unpredictable biter. Buddy, the ‘problem’ dog can be sweet, but you never know when he will snip. We are patiently (my husband is less patient) waiting for his last day – he is showing signs of being old and sick. Then we are determined to add a Golden Retriever to our home. We just need the love and devotion that only a dog can provide. Wish you luck, Annie.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Karen. Good to hear from you! Well, one thing in your favor with Buddy is that given the situation, you’re probably unlikely to let him linger longer than you know you should; like many animal lovers, we have been guilty of failing to let go when all the signs say it’s time to do so.
      I love Goldens—actually all retrievers. Please let me know when your new pal arrives so I can vicariously enjoy him/her with you.

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  6. Hi Annie,
    Losing Rufus 7 years ago was so hard on me that I fear getting another dog. My husband is not a dog lover, mostly because he is allergic to them. Rufus, being a poodle, bothered his allergy only with direct contact, so it wasn’t too bad. Our traveling also is problematic. Still, I yearn for a dog. Maybe I should start to hound Allan about it, despite his dogged refusal. Or am I barking up the wrong tree?

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m not a pet person. But my daughter acquired a Norwegian Behund puppy from a kennel two years ago and I am the go to person to exercise him when my daughter and son-in-law are both working. One of the fascinating by-products of dog ownership is the whole new world of dog walkers. It’s like stepping into another dimension. Every dog walker I meet is so friendly, stops for a chat and behaves like we are old friends.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Annie, I totally know how you feel!! When we lost our dog, Cuddles, about two years ago our house felt so empty. She was a rescue and we don’t know how old she was. We had her for 7 years and she was old when we got her. We always have a cat or two and I love them dearly, but there is just something about a dog…. it took my daughter and I 5 months to convince my husband we needed a new canine companion. And this tone, it was a puppy.
    We had always adopted older dogs before and, although I’d had puppies during my childhood, I was unprepared for raising a dog from the age of 8 weeks old.
    We got her from a farm that had too many puppies and needed homes for them. She is a black lab crossed with an Australian Sheppard…. the first 6 months was torturous. There is nothing one can do about puppy nipping but wait it out. I didn’t know how we would ever keep her and then overnight she learned all of her manners!!
    Now (you’ve seen pictures of her) she is not even quite two years old and she is a queen.
    She handles our new kitten with kid gloves and watches over him like a proud mother.
    Anyway, why am I rambling on? Because us dog people love to talk about our dogs. We love to talk to one another because we all know the truth… dogs are the most loyal, faithful and loving creatures on the planet. And they are smart and have real emotional intelligence. But not everyone gets it!!!
    Good luck, Annie, as you look for your new companion. I think a Sheppard rescue sounds so wonderful 💖

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your understanding and sharing, Janine. I give you credit for raising a puppy; I would love to do that but suspect that’s more than I can handle now. But your pup is a love; I can tell from her photo. Our beloved Vic was a similarly doting caregiver to our cat ( I linked to my post about them.)

      You’re right about dog lovers wanting to share, as you can see from the comments, yours and others.

      My niece, grandmom to the pup I want to dog nap, told me he’s looking forward to seeing me this weekend—which means he’ll be attending his parents’ wedding. So I told her with all the excitement, maybe no one will notice if I…(but I may need an alternate plan).

      So good to hear from you!

      Liked by 1 person

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