The company of a dog seemed like a good idea because I was becoming more withdrawn than ever. I knew I probably wouldn’t be able to walk him a lot so I had a good-sized dog run built and planned to drive him to the dog park for play .
To the rescue people I said I would foster any dog old or ugly but under no circumstances did I want a puppy. They told me he was about 2 years old. What he was a hundred pound puppy.
When he first came into my house I told him to sit. He ran the other direction and stopped only to pee on the floor. I yelled “bad.” When he was finished peeing he turned and charged me and ripped the fluff balls off my scarf as he flew by.
When he wasn’t bouncing off the walls, he was insecure and watched every move I made . He slept with one eye open and would get up and follow me to the bathroom in the middle of the night.
For kicks and to drive me mad he would push a toy under the armoire and start crying when he couldn’t get it. I would stop what I was doing, get the toy out and go back to my desk and just as I sat back down he had it under there again.
He knew he wasn’t allowed in the bedroom alone and so he invented this routine where he would walk from my desk to the bedroom door then back to me then to the bedroom door. I would look up after hearing the tap, tap, tap on the wood floor and say “Don’t.”
It sounded like this:
“Tap tap tap tap tap tap tap.”
“Don’t do it.”
“Tap tap tap tap tap tap tap.”
“Don’t do it.”
“Tap tap tap tap tap tap tap.”
“Oh my God you’re driving me crazy.”
I broke down and cried and he would come to me and push his head under my arm and quietly sit there.
I had an appointment so I put him in my bedroom to keep him safe. When I got back, I found he had chewed a hole in my favorite silk blouse and a hole through the bedroom door and then climbed onto the table to lay on my clean clothes.
Remembering that I had not filled my prescriptions I decided it would be safer to walk the one block to the pharmacist as I was exhausted and I already been in two car accidents.
I brought the dog along and noticed how sweet he was to stay right at my side and go as slow as I needed. It was more like he was walking me along, keeping an eye on me.
For his safety and my sanity I bought a big crate.
It was one of those collapsible metal kind and I put him in it the next time I left the house. When I came home he was on the couch sleeping, cut up and bleeding from pushing his way out of the crate. With him he had my silk blouse.
The next time I had to leave the house I took him with me. While driving on the freeway I found out that wind shield wipers flipped him out. From the back seat he lunged and head butted the window shield. The window cracked and the rear view mirror was knocked off. Driving home in the rain with no wind shield wipers, no rear view mirror and a cracked window shield, I was pulled over. The police officer asked for my ID and insurance and told me he was pulling me over for expired tags. He asked me where I was coming from and if I had been drinking. I broke down and cried and tried to get the words out. I was trying to say I had been at the emergency room and that I had staph and that I was sorry I didn’t know about my tags and that I had forgotten to renew. He handed back my papers and asked if I would be OK to get home. I said yes and then he said he wasn’t going to give me a ticket but try to get my tags taken care of. That made me cry even more….
The next crate I bought was solid plastic and I put the dog in it the next time I left the house only to come home and find the crate door open and him sleeping on my bed. To figure out how he did this I pretended to leave the house then crept back and looked in the window. I watched him in his crate for a while but nothing happened except that he was wagging his tail.
I decide to “leave” and tried to be as authentic as I could at looking like I was leaving the house. I gathered my keys, my phone, my hand bag and wandered around for a while then forgot what I was doing. I looked at the door and flipped out a little at the idea of leaving and then set my keys down and lost them. After searching around for a while I found my keys but couldn’t find my hand bag. Then I remembered I wasn’t really going anywhere so I wouldn’t need it need. Would the dog notice this small detail?
Finally I pulled myself together and made it out the door, got in the car, drove a bit down the street, parked and snuck back and looked in the window. What I saw was the dog licking the latch through the crate door. What I am telling you is that he was licking his way out.
After that I started zip tying it shut. Not one zip tie but many and that put an end to Houdini dog.
I searched on-line for dog training tips and books.
When he was bad I tried dropping a bag of coins on the floor to make a loud noise and all he thought was that it was the most incredible thing he had ever seen. He grabbed the bag, raced around, throwing into the air and was soon looking for more things to move that would fall and make noise.
He learned how to push things off the coffee table. He would watch them fall and then look to see my reaction. I would say to him “Ok genius that was awesome, now get away from there.”
The squirt bottle routine didn’t work out either. He would just bite at the squirts of water. He loved it!
I watched as one by one he learned to open cabinets, drawers and boxes. He would sift through the contents and pull things out that interested him. He went for the little things and he really liked rubber bands a lot. He did this funny thing where he hooked the rubber band on his middle claw and pulled on it. He would come to me and offer it. When I went to take it he would gently pull it for a game of mini tug of war.
Here we enter what I call his “making it a dog shaped world” phase. He was calming down a little bit by now and mostly was just looking for a place to take a little nap to think up his next angle.
His taste changed often and as his need for variety increased so did his ability to come up with something new and weird each day.
He would cram himself into anything curl up and go to sleep.
He used the chair to get onto the table and then from the table he walked across the counter to get to the top of the fridge so I moved the furniture. It went on like this move for move, like playing chess with a giant real life snoopy.
His asset was his ability to redefine himself for the situation at hand. As my health declined and friends departed, he watched all this.
More and more I was waking up at night soaking wet, sometimes shivering some times burning up often sleeping through the day to wake up only to need to sleep again, It was difficult to get up for the bathroom.
I was sleeping and worrying a lot. The appointment I had with the infectious disease Doctor was so far away. How long could I hold it together? I tried to remember the date and where I was on my bills and how my garden was dying and the dog was neglected and then I would start sweating again and fall back asleep.
I knew I should have been thinking about giving him up so he could have a better life but I was selfish and terrified of where my mind might go without him.
When he started developing lesions like mine that was my signal from the universe that we were in it together until the end. I am sure I made that up but that’s OK.
The dog was sick with me and he got better with me. Then he flew away with me and that’s the story of how the dog stayed in the picture. The End.