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The Adventures of Being First Time Parents- To Our Dogs

There’s no more use denying it.

We are THOSE people. The obsessive dog-worshiping ones that somehow think that every action of their precious pooch needs to be celebrated and shared- preferably with any and all applicable pictures.

A year ago, Ian swore after an unfortunate incident with my parent’s husky and a bag of dog poop that he would never own a nasty canine of his own. Fast forward to the present and I’m finding myself living with a simpering fool who melts at the sight of a tail wag.

Make that two tail wags.

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Wendell (Berry) and Aldo (Leopold)

Back during the holidays last year I stumbled upon a book entitled Stuff White People Like. It had a chapter about the annoying tendency of young Caucasian couples to adopt canines (taking home a “rescue” earns the most karma points) with the idea that they are good training for the inevitable upgrade to an infant someday. If this dog-frenzied behavior really does split along racial lines, Ian and I could be the chapter example for the next edition.

In any case, our puppies have made up a good portion of our social lives for the past few months. They’ve alternatively made us laugh, cry and go bat s*** crazy (a little self editing there- my mother reads this…). Even now, we are in the throes of an adventure made all the more memorable because half of the involved parties don’t speak human.

For their sake, I think that’s an advantage.

So with that introduction, here’s a summary of what the past few months been like for the our two mountain puppies.

Wendell the Woebegone

Oh Wendell… where to begin. Suffice it to say that he’s always been the troubled child in our mountain family. We should have gotten a sense of what we were getting ourselves into when we took him on his first ever walk outside the walls of his Kentucky animal shelter and the poor guy was so scared of falling leaves and his own shadow that he attempted to snap his own neck straining to get away.

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This is about all Wendell did for the first week he was in our house

Did we see this as a warning sign that his psychological problems might be more than we could handle? Heck no. We were naive and unstoppable, filled with unbridled optimism that no challenge facing us was too big to be conquered through our youthful motivation and yet-untapped brilliance.

HA.

Stubborn Like His Father

However, Wendell has proven to have a stubbornness far surpassing any practical tactical brilliance we can muster up. His bend towards neurosis has stayed consistent throughout his year with us and every interaction with us needs to be entirely on his terms….unless he’s inside. Something about entering a walled in space caused him to retreat into himself, hunkering down without movement for hours on end.

Outdoors, it’s another story. Somehow, getting off leash quickly increases Wendell’s confidence in the great unknown and he begins to thrive; chasing deer, trucks and our own cats off the property with equal enthusiasm. As soon as the sky begins to darken I bring out tempting treats to draw him close enough to put his leash on. Sometimes it works. Sometimes not.

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At least it’s obvious he enjoys the outside, as evidenced by him teasing the guinea fowl here…
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…convincing me to take him on a walk here…
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…and stealing bones from the neighbor dogs here.

This past winter was a nightmare; Wendell spent many frigid nights barking at us from deep in our snowy woods, despite the wide open doors to our house and the trails of hot dog we left from the front door to the entrance of his crate.

It never worked. Not once.

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On some occasions Wendell would be so cold when we’d finally get him inside that we’d wrap him in an electric blanket.

Summer Snake Bait

Unfortunately, I’m afraid that when we left for Peru, our summer house sitter has become so scarred by Wendell she may never help us again.

Not only was he a lurking shadow during her entire visit, he also somehow managed to get bitten by a copperhead. On the face. The story is he came out of the woods looking so disfigured that he scared her eight year old granddaughter. His face has been described to us as a football- so puffy even his eyes weren’t visible. And worst of all? He was still so timid he wouldn’t let anyone touch him TO GET HIS COLLAR OFF. The collar that was CHOKING his big stupid swollen head.

Truly, there may not be any hope for that guy.

What I wouldn’t give to have that photo!

Sadly, no photo exists of Wendell’s worst moment so I snagged this one off the internet by searching “swollen dog head”. I’m pretty sure Wendell looked a lot worse.

But don’t worry for a single second. Wendell made a complete recover and looked entirely normal when we came back for him.

Gimpy Legs and Happy Pills

In recent weeks, Wendell has been dealing with a new set of problems, namely a lingering limp that lasted for weeks no matter how much we tried to restrict his movements. When the vet we visited suggested it was caused by early onset arthritis and could only be treated by an eye-wateringly expensive shot administered twice a week for life, I must confess I’ve never prayed harder that a medicine wouldn’t work.

Thankfully, it didn’t. So, we started on plan B, which was keeping him off his feet for two weeks (no easy task for a dog used to free roaming through the mountains). Also, we’ve pulled out the big guns and have started him on Prozac. Enough is enough, and it’s obvious Wendell’s anxiety has been getting in the way of his own happiness.

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This is the look Wendell gives me when he’s forced to be inside all day. Yeeessh What a look to give to the hand that feeds him.

Let’s just hope this happy pill can be as effective for his brain as it is for some of the humans in my life.

Aldo the Adventurous

What a goober. As badly adjusted to normal life as Wendell is, Aldo is his polar opposite. Goofy and full of energy, the most stressful part of Aldo’s day is getting attacked our neighbors yippy poodle. Actually, being tormented by lesser species is a theme for Aldo; our cougar cat Pepper teases him by blocking the cat door from his entry with his baleful claws, often for half an hour at a time.

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He looks wet because he’d jumped in our pond moments before this photo was taken.

If Aldo has an Achilles heel, it would be his own boredom. Not comfortable enough in himself to spend a waking moment away from me, Aldo spends what alone time he has trying to woo me back to him, often by stealing my smelliest clothing and scattering them in far flung places throughout the property. I’m getting tired of picking up my underwear and running shoes from around the yard, and I fear there are many personal items of mine that will likely be discovered at the most inopportune time, likely whenever the next group visits us.

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See it?
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SEE IT!?
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THERE SHE BE.

On one memorable occasion Aldo brought me an entire egg that he had delicately plucked off the table, carried in his mouth up a flight of stairs to our attic bedroom, depositing it at my feet as I worked. After all his effort, I didn’t have the heart to tell him I’m more of a coffee and bagel kind of girl.

Seemingly unimpressed with Wendell’s temporary captivity and new pills, Aldo seems mainly jealous of the peanut butter-Prozac spoon his injured brother gets to snack on every morning.

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As evidenced by his raised back, Aldo’s decided the pig is what really needs some watching over.

In some ways, I feel that these two work as a foil for Ian and my relationship. One of us is totally normal and completely awesome, and the other is an under-medicated neurotic basket case. (Don’t try to figure out which is which- we’re taking our secrets to the grave.) One of us is always trying to nip the other’s ear when they’re trying to take a nap, and sometimes we’re both so lazy we just eat out of the same food bowl. And after romping through the woods on a buggy afternoon we’re both likely to come home with ticks.

Hmmmm maybe not.

Actually, having two dogs is perfect practice for us having kids someday. We’re getting all kinds of child rearing practice, and now when we have our own kids we’ll know its okay to leave them alone for hours at a time, and we know to only buy them the cheapest possible crap food. It won’t be a big deal when we (a little too literally) kick them out of our bed because they take up too much room. And we won’t even care when they make their own dessert from the contents of the cats’ litter box.

Yikes. Maybe not that either.

Truth is there’s no great lesson here and I’m at a loss for how to wrap up this post.

Oh…GOT IT.

I guess there is one thing all four of us have in common: we all like BACON.

Sorry Mr. Pig… this just got awkward.

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One thought on “The Adventures of Being First Time Parents- To Our Dogs

  1. Poor Wendell! Here’s hoping the Prozac helps.

    My husband and I are obnoxious animal people. He is the cat whisperer, while I am the one who speaks “dog.” But it’s contagious, really. We each watch over the other’s pets like a hawk. And, speaking of children, ours are 24 and 16. I don’t believe you ever get over being “Crazy Dog People” or “Crazy Cat People” no matter how many kids you have!

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