And now: the rousing conclusion (for the time being) of our series about why my husband and I perhaps deserve our infertility. This installment's topic: We Would Be Bad Parents, As Evidenced By How We Have Raised Our Dog.
The background: we have a dog who is a little over a year old. He is very, very handsome - really, you have rarely (if ever) seen a more handsome dog. If he were a breed instead of a mix, people would pay jodhpur-wearing breeders thousands of dollars for the privilege of adopting a companion who so perfectly combines a noble affect with fluffy fur and floppy ears.
But after watching several episodes of "The Dog Whisperer," as well as having, uh, observed reality, it has occurred to us that we may have made some missteps in our dog-parenting, and these have had consequences. To wit:
1. We often take our dog to doggie daycare. He loves it and even has a girlfriend there; her name is Kyra and she's taller than he is. But the point is that we are also a little addicted to doggie daycare. When it's really cold in the winter or really hot in the summer, or perhaps a little too balmy, we will think to ourselves that it is too hot or too cold or too perfect to take him on walks, and we'll deposit him at daycare. And that shit costs money. So we work more. So we have to take him to daycare more. You get the idea.
2. Because we take him to doggie daycare so often and don't spend as much time as Cesar Millan would want walking him (the dog, not Cesar), he has become very much a dog's dog, and he can be ill-behaved on walks. He hates bicyclists. And screaming toddlers. And old ladies with walkers. But, most of all, he hates bunnies - picture the conflict in the Middle East, or the sectarian violence in Iraq, and that gives you a sense of the sort of combustion that occurs when our dog descries a bunny. He will lunge at the bunny in the manner of a recently launched missile; this rapid motion recently caused leash burn on my husband's hand. No amount of reasoning can distract our dog from his mission to chase bunnies; we could be handing him a bowl brimming with LiverSnax and dangling a pressed-rawhide bone before his handsome little dog-eyes and he would still lunge toward any bunny in a 50-foot radius.
3. When we leave him in our yard, he barks at pedestrians. All pedestrians. Even pedestrians he likes - e.g., our next-door neighbors or our friends who are walking by with their dogs. It's something about the fence, we think - he is not barky if we're at one of those friends' houses. But he's very loud at times. And we get annoyed. But mostly we just leave him out there unless it's early (defined as before 8am) or late (after 9pm) - he likes being outside, and so we kind of shrug and say, Eh. Yeah.
4. He has developed what we refer to as Threshold Anxiety. When he's going to the living room from the dining room, or vice versa, he hesitates at the threshold and cries and kind of does a little anxious dance. Sometimes, we have to go to him, or at least call to him, in order for him to make the crossing. Cesar Millan would solve this in about five seconds, I'm sure. But we have no idea what to do. And we probably caused it in the first place!
5. Warning: this one is weird. Our dog likes to eat once a day, in the evening. He gobbles up his bowl of food, and then his little dog-mind says: My meal feels...I don't know, lacking - yes, it lacks a certain je ne sais quoi. Wait, I've got it: the perfect top-off right now would be a stuffed animal. And he will stuff a stuffed animal back in his throat, thereby inadvertently activating his gag reflex. He will stand there, hedgehog or kitty stuffed in his mouth, crying because the gag reflex has been activated. But he will not drop the animal, and, if you take it away from him, he will pick it back up. Eventually, he will vomit on the hedgehog or kitty. He will then re-eat the recently vomited meal (thank goodness, since we buy him only the finest in dog food). We ignore that part, choosing to pretend it never happened. I can just picture us with children. Oh, sure, maybe Jenny's using heroin, but she always hides her syringes, right?
6. I speak ill of the dog's intelligence. For instance, sometimes he will sprint out into the yard with the hedgehog in his mouth, and he will encounter a pedestrian. Faced with the depressing choice either of not barking or of removing the hedgehog, he will instead bark with the hedgehog in his mouth, which doesn't really work all that well - it sounds vaguely like Mrrrfff. The pedestrian will laugh and say, "You've got to take it out of your mouth, Mr. Dog." And I'll say, "He's not very smart." Egad! (As an aside: one of my friends once adopted an adult dog, and she took him to an obedience class at a Petco-type place. On the first day, he was the worst-behaved dog by far, and he ended up peeing all over the center of the room. And she found herself saying, "Sorry - he's adopted.")
Yes, I can see the expression on your face now - perhaps it's aghast, perhaps it's mortified, perhaps it's merely deeply disturbed. I will say that we love our dog an absurd amount, and we spend way too much time thinking about him and talking about him when we're away (like this past weekend). But, as parents, we obviously need an intervention from Cesar Millan. (Geopolitics could also use an intervention from Cesar Millan, in my opinion.)
Edited to add:
8. I can't believe I almost forgot this. Last night, my husband got back before me from New York (we have different preferred airlines - another story for another time). He picked up the dog from the boarder and returned home. After he'd let the dog outside for a bit, the dog came back in smelling like shit. Literally, like shit. He had rolled in it or something. My husband wasn't feeling all that well, so he sort of rubbed the dog with a towel and left me a message saying that the dog smelled like shit and, well, he didn't feel like dealing with it. So I got home late to find a shit-smelling dog who seemed a bit upset that no one would hug him. He's too big for me to wash on my own, so I just spritzed him with some eucalyptus spray and we left him there in the kitchen overnight. Let me repeat that: We left our shit-smelling dog smelling like shit overnight. To our credit, we did wash him this morning before we went to work.