Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Teddy's first Poop and Shadows 1st Barf

This was from a guy on my yahoo group. I had to share.

"Dad, when can I have a dog?" Melanie knows the answer by heart, but wants to try one more time in hopes my answer might change."When you're 25 dear." I answered robotically. She does the math, being only eight so far."But that's no fair! Darby has a dog. You had a dog when you were a kid!"She knows all the angles and whines for effect."Life isn't fair, sweetie." I don't think my response carried the weight intended. But let me try to straddle two different worlds - those who are dog people versus those who are not. I don't think these worlds can be reconciled by reason and argument. Just like abortion, politics and religion, some divisions are stark bifurcation that defy all attempts at reconciliation. So dog owners might think my resistance is small minded, selfish, uninformed and inflexible - and those are just the polite adjectives. I know all the arguments for a dog - companionship, affection, another member of the family to love and be loved. But as a certified Grump the flipside snaps quickly into my mind. Dog odor, poop, pee, hair, chewed stuff I don't want chewed, feeding and walking every cotton-pickin day, morning and night. In late afternoon when someone says let's go get some dinner I would have to say "Sorry, have to go home and feed the dog and walk the dog and beg the dog to poop while I glance at my watch, then pick up the poop in a plastic bag." Yesssiree, let me have a dog.But Melanie is relentless, and her Mom is on her side and gives her hope Dad will some day see the light. Recently Mom informed me Melanie threw pennies in a wishing well for a dog when we were on vacation in Destin, and more recently had been wishing on a star. So, anyway, when we went to get Melanie's dog I made a huge mistake, I mean in addition to surrendering. I had secretly looked for a dog on the web,searching for the right guy. I didn't want a puppy with all the poop and pee and chewing things to put up with, so I searched for a young adult,house trained, not too big since he was to be a house dog. I found Teddy, a four year old neutered male beagle, cute as a button. Julie agreed on Teddy based on the shelter's description of his gentle nature, and we packed up the kids to take them to the surprise of meeting their dog. And it was a surprise for me and Julie, too, because Teddy weighed 60 pounds,more than twice the size we thought he was. If you call me stupid, I already beat you to it. Did you know Beagles and other hounds have a, um, distinctive odor? But I couldn't say no with the kids waiting to take the dog home, even though I should have. We loaded the newest member of our family in the truck and headed for home. On his first walk Teddy drug Melanie stumbling down the golf cart path on his leash, and we walked him quite a bit that night after his meal, trying to get him to poop with no success. On his next morning walk, no poop. I was beginning to be concerned until I found he had,indeed, pooped, in the comfort of the air conditioned foyer. He didn't poop on his walks, but he did leave a big one on the kitchen floor. I decided we had to revert to crate training - for no-dog people, that means the dog has his own private space inside a wire cage big enough to be comfortable,and keeping the dog in there helps house training because dogs won't foul their own space. But someone forgot to tell Teddy about the rule. We picked up Teddy on Friday, and the 1st of the week despite my family's protests I was the bad guy who returned him to the shelter and confessed I had made a mistake. If you have the right dog, you have to deal with the housetraining issues, but Teddy wasn't the right dog for our family - the shelter I returned him to is not a kill shelter, so he is OK. I was worried about the parallel between Melanie and Kristen's adoption, andTeddy's failed adoption, and I talked to Melanie about it. But the mistake with Teddy was still a big one. So we continued to look for the right dog, because once Dad gave in, there was no turning back with relentless Melanie staring me down, and I promised when I took Teddy back Melanie could have another dog. Melanie's pleas to keep Teddy immediately switched to excitement over the prospect of a smaller dog, and one she could help select. She liked Teddy but she moved on in a new York minute. So Melanie and I spent a lot of time perusing dogs on the web. I finally found a smaller dog, black as coal from nose to the end of his tail, shortshiny black coat, looks like a small black lab but he's a mutt, partterrier, 24 pounds of happy, calm, eager-to-please one year old dog. Melanie said she liked him. She and I drove over 2 hours to north Georgia to pick him up, taking our time when we met him to play and look him over and think about whether he was the right dog for our family. I didn't mind the drive, sort of a "road trip" to break in my brand new Ford F-150 Super Crew truck, with a big screen DVD player built in so Melanie was fully occupied in the back seat. We both liked the dog and decided to make him a member of our family. I brought the doggy throw pillowI had bought for Teddy, so the dog had a perch in the front seat with a great view. But I'm sure it was a stressful day for the little guy, not knowing where we were going, maybe his first friendly ride in a truck, up and down and back and forth around the curves of the north Georgia hills,and I noticed he wasn't looking outside any more, he was resting his chin on his paws and looking a little green around the gills. He yawned several times, and I thought "Don't you puke on me, dog!"Then he started to hack a bit like a cat bringing up a hairball and I sort of yelled "DON'T YOU PUKE ON ME, DOG!" while we were rolling down the highway. That's when he puked on me the first time. Well, not exactly ON me, he puked ON the supple tan leather seat of my new truck, and while keeping the truck on the road I grabbed napkins out of the dispenser on the visor to dam it up, stop the flow, because he puked in sort of a little valley, and his barf was sufficiently solid that it was contained, marinating my new seats. And if that doesn't ruin your lunch - I whipped into a McDonalds, rushed around to the passenger side of the truck and took the dog out by the leash and instructed Melanie to hold him off the parking lot on the grass while I went inside to the restroom for a pound or two of paper towels. Naturally the bathroom had nothing but an electric blower, so I stomped back outside to see the dark and strong little dog happily dragging Melanie down the sidewalk by the leash and some guy with a greasy baseball cap and no front teeth laughing his head off from his so-called car. I helped Melanie get the dog to a safe spot on the grass, encouraged her to reach down in her gut and hold him by the leash while I used a towel I brought on our trip -specifically for doggy accidents - to wipe up the mess. Sensing Melanie was taking charge instead of following, the dog sort of submitted to her control, and he wandered over to a McD's dining room window, just below a couple sitting at a table inside and enjoying their lunch, and he hunched over and squeezed out a steaming pile while they ate their big macs, oblivious to the offense just two feet away because they blissfully could not see it and were protected through the glass. Melanie and I laughingly loaded the formerly queasy dog back into the new truck and took off before we could suffer the indignity of being thrown out of McDonalds in a tiny north Georgia town. The dog didn't puke in the truck again for about 15 minutes. This time, being a dog barf veteran, I dammed it up and let it sit all the way home,over another hour. The dog seemed a little unhappy about my not cleaning it up, because he got a little barf on himself and I used the leash to make him sit still. But he got used to it. When we arrived home his puking was all forgotten, he was excitedly exploring his new turf. Mom and Kristen liked him a lot, and I have to admit he is a sleek little guy that all the ladies who meet him call "cute!" He's small with a barrel chest and very trim hind quarters, ears that stand up and fold over halfway, and when he examines something and cocks his head to one side he looks like a Christmas photo. After a couple days of considering names like "Midnight" and "Eight-Ball" and even a few Chinese names, Melanie settled on "Shadow" so that is his name, and after a week now he responds to it well.Shadow curls up on his dog pillow and dozes for hours while Mom is at work,the kids are at school or a summer sitter, and I work in my office. He pooped like a good dog on his very first walk, earning him a little trust and freedom in the house, and Melanie enjoys giving him a treat and praise when he poops.He likes going with Julie on a morning run, right after she feeds him and he does his business before they return. And sometimes Melanie walks Shadow. But that is an anomaly. The daily routine depends on the Grump, and that would be me - first thing in the morning, feed the dog then take the dog for his walk/run. Of course I don't run, if I ran 100 yards I'd drop dead. But I take Shadow on the golf cart. Peachtree City has 80 miles of golf cartpaths, and Shadow already knows some of them. When I open the door to the garage in the morning Shadow leaps out and up on the golf cart seat because he knows where we are going. I keep him on the seat for a little ways until we get to the woods, and I no longer have to say "Down, Shadow" because he sees his spot and tenses in anticipation of his favorite part of the day. When I slow down he scoots to the ground to begin his hunt for critters, where other dogs have peed, where he wants to pee himself and the very special spot where he will circle a few times,squat and earn his reward of a treat. Shadow already knows when he poops in the woods he gets a treat. But he doesn't do it right away. Shadow loves to run beside or in front of the golf cart, tethered by a 25 foot retractable leash, and he lopes or trots or walks between 3 and five miles a day, with his poop marking the apex of the trip, satisfying the prime requirement, punching his ticket and earning him a treat. So now my Grumpy routine is, um, adjusted. Morning and night I feed Shadow,take him on his walk-run, and now we have added noon, too, because you see he peed and pooped in Kristen's room, he peed and pooped in the dining room ,he needs a mid-day outing and we're heading back to crate training so he learns to hold it better. I'm even considering a doggy door and a hidden electronic fence. And while no-dog readers are thinking "Ewwww" about poop and pee in the house, as am I, dog people would quickly point out accidents are just part of the deal when you're training a dog, and you can't get excited about it. Well, unless you're a grump. Of course my attitude has changed little. Pee, poop, hair, smell,ball-and-chain morning and night, sounds like owning a dog to me. My buddy Tom laughed from his car the other day as I crossed the street in front of him in the golf cart with Shadow on the seat beside me. He told me later he thought it was funny that I had my arm around that dog like I loved him. Baloney, I said, I was just holding him so he didn't fall out when I turned left, like he did the other day, and Tom winked at me.But I can't communicate with Tom any more, he's a no-dog person, and I seem to have crossed over. It's almost like when you have kids, you drift apart from no-kids couples because no matter how much you like one another, the things you have in common seem to fade away. I can't talk any more, have to go feed Shadow and take him on his walk-trot-run, made more urgent because he didn't poop this morning on his first run, nor on his second remedial run in search of a poop, nor on his 3rd re-remedial walk when Julie and Melanie took him, nor on his 4th when I took him just after noon again. By the time I get back, assuming he poops on this one and we don't have to go again, he will have about 8 or 9 miles today. At least he's staying fit.I know what you no-dog people are thinking. Dog people follow their dogs around on leashes, waiting for them to poop, morning and night, cold or hot,rain or shine or snow or sleet, and I have always thought of them as complete idiots. Actually, I still do, but now, as Kristen would say, I are one too! Gotta go beg Shadow to poop.

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