Wednesday, February 16, 2011

I'd like my life back

Let me start out by apologizing to all you dog lovers and warn you ahead of time that you might want to skip reading today's blog.

Today I find myself right up there with this guy Tony Hayward Apologizes. Remember him? His name is Tony Howard and up until last summer he was CEO for BP Oil. Our country was in the middle of a national tragedy, an environmental nightmare of epic proportions and in the midst of it all he exclaimed "I'd like my life back." These five not so innocent words incensed a nation and ended his career at BP Oil.

Most people would learn from this guy and not be stupid enough to follow in his footsteps. I am not most people. Today I am shouting from the rooftops "I'd like my life back!"

I'm sure most of you are wondering what is so dire in my life that I feel the need or desire to reclaim it. I'll show you with two photos. This  and this  the bane of my existence.

Let me try to explain myself and hopefully not totally outrage all the dog lovers of the world.

For the record I will state I am a cat person. Of course if you read my blog and/or are my friend on Facebook you already know that. I love kitties, everything about them makes my heart go pitter-patter. My children have dubbed me "crazy cat lady" - it's a badge I wear with pride.

On the other hand,  I am NOT a dog person. Dogs do not give me warm fuzzies. I have no desire to pet or cuddle with every dog I see. They may be man's best friend but they are not this woman's BFF - not even close.

So, feeling that way, why in the world do I have two dogs in my home? Does this not tell the whole story? 

It all started back in early elementary school when Boy #1 came home exclaiming he wanted to join the Boy Scouts. "It will be so much fun, Mom. We will go camping, and learn all kinds of skills. We will have weekly meetings, and sell popcorn. And it's not just for me, it's something that will take over the whole family and suck every spare minute away from family time, and will only cost hundreds of dollars a year." Ok, I'll admit that it's possible that last sentence was only in my head and didn't come out of his mouth.

My husband and I talked it over. Here we were, already drowning in commitments, how could we possibly add one more thing to our already hectic schedule. We both worked full time. We had church commitments two, sometimes three times a week. Both boys played Little League. And, of course, there was school and homework. We just couldn't see adding another weekly commitment, not to mention the thought of camping trips and selling popcorn. UGH!

So, being the loving, doting parents we are, we proceeded to BRIBE our son to give up this cockamamie idea. What can we talk you into that could  replace scouts? After thinking it over for about ten seconds he shouted "get me a dog!" (as I look back now, if he wanted to be a scout so bad why was he so quick to jump ship and settle for second choice? Was this just a ploy on the part of an eight year old to get a dog??").

Hmmm, a dog? Why do you need a dog? We have three cats. Isn't that enough. "But Mom, every boy needs a dog. And besides....." ok, here it comes ..... those empty promises that children utter, the ones that make unsuspecting, insane parents cave...." I'll love him, and feed him, and wash him, and take him for walks. He'll be my best friend and I'll love him forever." It didn't help that little brother was jumping up and down with excitement, shouting "Yes! We neeeeeeeed a dog. Pweeeeeze Mommy? Daddy?"

Who can resist that? And besides, this beats scouting right?

And so, that Saturday we trotted ourselves down to PetSmart for their weekly adoption event. It didn't take very long for Ian to pick out his dog of choice. A cute little black puppy. According to his chart he was three months old and was part Lab, part Chow. Knowing absolutely nothing about dogs other than he appeared to be a miniature version of our neighbors dog, we caved and adopted Max. 

I have to reiterate here, I am a cat person, not a dog person. My husband is also a cat, not dog, person (one of the reasons why I married him!). At the time neither of us knew anything about dogs. We did not know that unlike cats who automatically jump into a box of sand to go pee and poo, a dog needs to be trained to go outside to do their business. They are born with the instinct to go wherever they are and will do so gleefully, prancing around in their business and then transporting it throughout the house.

Also, no one told us that dogs will chew on anything they can get their teeth around, whether it be a $25 fitted baseball cap (or two), a shoe, a chair leg, endless toys, or even rocks, and their favorite .... cat poo! GROSS!!!!

We managed to make it through the potty training stage. And we survived the two long years of puppy chewing stage. Who knew that Labs stay in the puppy stage much longer than the average dog? The boys started out loving and playing with Max.
that's a foot chew toy - not a real foot!
It did not take too long before the love affair gradually abated and before you know it, guess who't taking care of Max? Yes, that would be Dad and Mom. I guess this is what you call payback for not joining Boy Scouts. Hindsight told me that avoidance of that one commitment, which might have only lasted a year or so, had turned into a lifetime commitment.

You'd think we would have learned our lesson here. But no, sometimes adults can be just as dense to these things as kids. It wasn't long before Son #2 decided he wanted a dog of his own. And for those of you that know Andrew, you know that when he wants something, he is relentless until he gets it. It didn't help that someone who shall remain nameless (MY OWN MOTHER) started campaigning that he needed a pup of his own. And so it was, in 2001, that we added a second dog, Holly, to our family.   

There are people who claim that once you have a kid, adding another one isn't that big of a deal. They also claim it is true with dogs. To these people ... I say that's a bunch of not-so-sweet-smelling-brown-chunks littering my backyard. Having a dog is a lot of work.

Dogs demand time and care. They are attention-whores, who follow you around the house all day. They smell bad. They bark. They're cute when they're little, but not so much as they grow older. Some people think dogs are smart, mine are not. They are the epitome of "dumb and dumber." Have you ever seen the cartoon Two Stupid DogsIt's swear it's based on my dogs!

I guess it comes as no surprise that my two sons lied to me. They don't take care of their dogs and they aren't their BFFs. In fact both boys have discovered that a) they are both cat people, and 2) having pets is too much work. Both boys had the audacity to up and leave home. They conveniently chose to run off to college knowing that no pets are allowed. They say they're seeking higher education but I know, in truth, it's just their diabolical plan to once and for all dump the responsibility of dog ownership on mom and dad.

And so we sit here, empty nesters, tied down to two aging dogs. At 14 years old (that's 98 in dog years) Max is blind in one eye and feeble. He looks terrible because he has a skin condition that causes his hair to fall out every summer. It barely grows back in time to fall out again, and his tail will forever be bald. He likes to sleep on the couch and gets quite cranky when a human claims it. He's actually been known to nudge said human out of his way, nothing comes between that dog and his couch. We won't talk about how he walks in circles whenever he enters my craft room. He used to be able to walk from the kitchen to the living room by going through that room, but now that I have it blocked off with my junk, stuff he enters the room and then can't seem to find his way back out. If it weren't so sad, it'd be funny.

Holly is still pretty agile and goes in and out of the house 56863 times a day. She barks at anything and everything. She thinks my husband is her husband and gets very agitated when he shows attention to me. He has been known to let her sleep on our bed (grrrr, don't get me started on how much that irates me) and she has the audacity to growl at me when I come to bed. She's overweight (right there with myself and the husband) and snores and snorts while sleeping. She gets into the trash whenever she can, strewing garbage, bits of tissue, chewed pieces of whatever (yesterday it was a wine cork), and yes even litter from the pieces of cat poo that she stole from the litter box, all over my house.

Let's not get me started on the dog hair - it's everywhere. On the floor, on the furniture, on my clothes. No matter how often I sweep and vacuum, there's always seems to be a hairball rolling across the floor. You know it's bad when someone comes into your house and you immediately see dog hair jump on their pants. Another sign of how bad it is is the daycare kid asking for a clean towel to sit on while he's here. 
Eddie and Holly
See even nine year old boys are repulsed it. And for those people who like to yap about cat hair ...  none of my cats ever shed as much as these two hounds.

I don't care how many baths a dog gets - they stink! And dogs with skin conditions stink even worse. But it's not just their body that stinks - have you ever smelled a dogs breath?  Ewwee, stinky breath makes me gag every time. To fight this battle I have Febreeze plug in air fresheners strategically placed throughout my house. I hope it's working .... would anyone tell me if it weren't?

Can anyone tell me why dogs like to lick? To me nothing is more repulsive than a wet, slimy dog tongue. Some people refer to it as puppy kisses. I refer to it as being marked by Satan. It really skeeves me out and they, of course, know it and find great pleasure in attacking me with that wet, slimy, gross thing every chance they get.

And speaking of dog tongues ... have you ever noticed that after going for a walk or any other form of exercise that dogs pant? And when dogs pant their tongues fall out of their mouths? Have you ever noticed how loooooong a dog tongue is? What I want to know is how in the world do they get all that tongue in their mouth without asphyxiating themselves?

All of the above is what's leading me to proclaim "I'd like my life back".

I want a house that smells good and isn't overcome with dog hair. I want furniture that doesn't have to be covered in blankets and towels, where I can put out decorative pillows and not worry about them becoming a dog pillow with slobber all over them.

I want to not have to open my back door 56863 times a day. I want a back door that doesn't look like this. 

I'd like a backyard that Eddie can walk and play in and not worry about stepping in doggy land mines.

I want my husband to be able to lay on the couch and watch tv without having a dog glare at him for not giving up his spot or worse yet not be able to get up to get a snack and come back without finding a triumphant dog (or two) laying in his space. 

I want to not have to chase a dog off my bed,   especially when I'm in it.  I'd also like to cover my bed with a blanket that doesn't have holes and string-pulls in it, and be able to cover the bed with a nice comforter and lots of pillows.

I'd like to not have to put my trashcans on counter tops and dressers and behind cabinet doors.

I'd like to open my front door and not have two barking elephants attack my visitors.

I'd like to be able to go out of town and not have to figure out what to do with the dogs, arrangements that could possibly put me in the poorhouse.

I'd like to be able to eat a meal without four eyes staring at me. And for the love of all that's holy, please let me be free of the whining (the only worse than a whining kid? a whining dog - it's like fingernails on a chalkboard).

I could keep going but I'm pretty sure I've gotten my point across.

I just wish I knew back then all that I've learned over the years. I would have made different choices. My kid would have been a Boy Scout. Who knows, it might have lasted a year or two. Or maybe even longer and I'd have an Eagle Scout or two on my hands. I might have even learned to like camping (but never selling popcorn).

Something else I've learned is about commitment. We make commitments all the time, some are short term, others longer, many can even be for a lifetime. Commitments should be well thought out before being confirmed and once they've been made, regardless of how we "feel," we must do everything we can to honor them.

I might not like being a dog owner but I am and I accept the responsibility that comes with it. I will feed them and provide them with shelter. My husband will continue to spoil them with treats  and wrestle with them over the couch. But should some saint come along and offer to take them off my hands?  ..... I will pack their bags and send them merrily on their way.


  1. As I've said from day one to all those who (with that gleeful look I instinctively mistrust!) tell you that a boy NEEDS a dog - I checked before we brought Eddie home to make sure it really WASN'T written down somewhere that a boy automatically came with a dog!

    While I happen to be neither a dog nor a cat person, my sister is. And I remember who ended up feeding the dog that she promised to love and feed and take care of - MOM! I'm still playing the "we need a fence first" card - with any luck, we'll never be able to afford one!

  2. As you know, I have a dog too, and acquired him under similar (false) pretenses. But Karma is now MY dog; he loves me unconditionally, shadows me everywhere I go and would die to protect me from harm. As a result, I have grown extremely attached to him and wouldn't trade him for all the tea in China. I am still a cat person - dogs are a lot more expensive (you definitely would have gotten off cheaper with boy scouts) and a lot more work. Karma will be my first and last dog, but I love him dearly and I totally understand why some people prefer dogs.