Insanity of the Four Legged Kiind


My daughter, Cricket, is a psychology major.  She feels this qualifies her to diagnose everyone and everything around.  It seems like all things heretofore considered “quirky” now come with a monogram.  By this, I mean initials, ADD, OCD, PTSD, ED and other letters joined together in unholy unions I cannot hope to decipher.  I see that look in her eyes sometimes and have to shut her down quickly before she pops some lettered identification on the multi-colored floral bubble I’ve created around myself.  I KNOW I have, well, let’s call them whimsies, eccentricities, foibles, but I’m comfortable that way.

I’m not the only oddball around our house, though.  Working with animals I’ve discovered that they all have their little idiosyncrasies as well.  My Jack Russells are freaks extraordinaire.  Perhaps it’s because they’re small dogs.  I’ve never had small dogs before these and I don’t remember my labs having neurotic fears and crazies.  They didn’t come preprogrammed with these neurosis, though, and I guess there is only our environment to blame.

Matilda has been leery of brooms and mops since babyhood.  Just walking by the pantry causes her to pick up speed and the whites of her eyes to show.  The vacuum causes a full panic.  She can hear the noise of the wheels coming out of the closet from two miles away. Once, she got into the barn and ate up 13 chickens and a peacock.  My anger was such that I put her in her basket and surrounded her with brooms, mops and the vacuum for 20 minutes.  I feel bad about this because I know it has caused some permanent damage.  She fears moths, puppets and band-aids.  Band-aids?  Once, someone lost a band-aid in our house and upon spotting it, she began to moan and cry with the intensity of a tornado alarm.  I have no comment on the fact that there was a band-aid laying on my floor.  I can’t think about that.

A while back I attended something that necessitated having a “my name is _____” sticker.  When I got home, I popped it on Matilda’s head. This caused her to stay frozen for the entire time she wore the sticker.  She neither sat nor turned her head.  One can only imagine the fun this has caused around my house.

The strangest problem, though, is the straw.  The sight of a straw emerging from a drink will cause her to run like she’s being chased by Satan.  If a straw is produced in the car, she will crawl as far into the 2” space under the seat as she can thrust her stiff and portly little body.  She has spent a lot of time in the car with teenaged boys and I feel this is what’s sent her into full on doggy insanity.  She takes to the bed like Scarlet O’Hara now at the slightest provocation, flopping down in mental exhaustion.

In talking to friends, I hear all their weird dog stories with interest. Dog lovers can talk about their doggie loves and their quirks for hours.  We adore our dog children.  They never talk back like our human ones, they never grow up, never move away and never miss a chance to snuggle behind our knees under the covers.  I will sooner drop big money on a fancy collar than give lunch money to my son.  It seems this companion species that shares our lives and our beds is as weird as we are.  Can it only be a matter of time until someone’s daughter is attending college for dog psychology and our pups become as medicated and as diagnosed as the rest of us?

Dog, Kid, Training in General

Dog Training

Honestly, for all my experience with animals, I am horrible with anything that needs training.  Take my children, for example.  They are completely untrained, except, possibly in the bathroom department and even then, I sometimes wonder.  I asked my son to please make his bed and he claims that he is physically unable to do this in the morning as his blood pressure is low.  Do I realize how hard it is to even make it down the stairs? I should feel lucky he even gets to school.  As for my dogs, they are terrible.  I know training is good, I know it’s important, why then, can I not do this?

When I got Matilda she was such a stunning puppy that my eyes would squint up when I looked at her.  When we went out, the Golden Goose and I would take her with us and she would just snuggle up and sleep in my arms.  At home, she was perfect, lounging like a tiny waif upon our bed. The joy I found in ordering special collars for her should really be contained to anniversaries or birth of children.  She didn’t even mind the crate, painted a pretty mint green with a big bow.  After a good while (week) I decided she was trained and gave her the run of the house, where she proceeded to sneak into every unused room to hide her no-nos. Our housekeeper would say to me “that good children made no-nos in that room” and I would know that something bad had happened.  I know it’s bad that she calls Matilda “the good children” when compared to all others in my household.  When my son, already an untrained soul in his own right, got his dog, Finn, I knew better.  I stuck to the crate routine and truly, he is house-trained, but the chewing he has done is titanic.  The chipper from Fargo could not have destroyed more things in my house.  Shoes, Victoria’s Secret bras that gave me such a great rack that I surprised myself every time I passed a mirror, did I mention SHOES?  Only my favorites, though.  Oh, and my sofa from the 90s in my sunroom that’s covered with such expensive Rose Cumming fabric that I cannot bear to recover it’s floral chinzy beauty?  Ate the skirt right off of it.

There is a website now that showcases the shame of a dog’s sin.  I could fill that site and then more.

The bad thing about having one bad child is that soon the allure of a bad thing becomes too much for the good one.  Matilda, lured out of her old lady stupor, has been killing chickens, chasing cats, running away with socks and making no-nos since Finn arrived.  Her worst fears include the vacuum, mop, broom and, for some reason, straws.  They terrify her.  I have tried putting her in time out in the broom closet, surrounded by a variety of straws, but it only succeeds in scaring her, not teaching her a lesson, and has caused me to cut back on my vacuuming out of regret.

I realize I suck at training anything.  I’m a whimp, a noodle, a pushover.  I can’t make a child do his homework, when I get mad and yell, I start giggling halfway through and the kids or dogs or husband lose all respect.  I can’t stick with a routine to save my life.  I’m sure there’s a name for this, or a medication with heart failure or loose bowels as a side effect, but what I’m really looking for is a support group, preferably with a wine bar, hot waiters and really nice furniture with no teeth marks. 

The Beagle Incident

A word about my husband, the Golden Goose.  I’m sure I’ve mentioned that he is referred to this because this is how he refers to himself.  The Golden Goose leaves the animal stuff up to me.  That’s not to say he doesn’t have a kind heart, he’s just unable to immerse himself in chaos. Lord knows he grew up in chaos, but that’s just an unfair poke at my mother-in-law’s housekeeping.  We once had a fight of such epic proportions that one of us could have easily ended up snuffed and buried in a shallow grave over something a dog I brought home did.

Let me digress, I brought home a stray dog one time we named Orlando.  This dog was so dumb he wouldn’t even acknowledge anyone when they were speaking.  I would have though he was deaf, but he jumped at noises.  I talked and cooed endlessly to him the first few days trying to build a bridge but he wasn’t having it.  Only months later, when having the house painted, did we figure it all out.  Our painter, who was of hispanic origin, yelled to his co-worker in spanish and the dog bolted awake and ran over with great interest.  He proceeded to follow their conversations for days, shadowing them and gazing with longing at them when they were on their ladders.  Apparently, he was a spanish speaking dog.  Orlando was accidently left in the Golden Goose’s office where he then chewed up an item that I still don’t feel comfortable naming.  The item itself, purchased by the Goose, was of a decorative and, I believe, cruel nature and had been the subject of angry and demonstrative discussion between us.  Thus, it resided in his office and was pointedly ignored by me.  This item, however, was quite pricy and apparently delicious as Orlando devoured a good portion of it.  Thus began what is know in my marriage as “the time of the _______ (insert horrible item’s name here) incident”.  The Golden Goose was so angry that even the sight of Orlando caused his veins to pop out in his neck and he developed a whistle when he breathed deeply.  Luckily, I was able to relocate him to a bilingual home.

This was all to preface that he should have known better.  The Golden Goose, who does have a heart, called me from the golf course, the only known safe place for a sport, and declared that he was bringing home a dog.  I really didn’t want another dog but since I have over 100 animals myself, who was I to argue?  The dog in question was a beagle.  The Goose had a beagle as a child and I suppose this is what prompted his largess.  All was well until bedtime.  The dog whined and cajoled until he was allowed, newly washed and cleaned, into our bed with our two Jack Russells.  The problem was that he wouldn’t stay on the foot of the bed.  I must emit an animal pheromone because he kept wriggling up to my head.  Even I can only go so far on the first date.  So, the Goose put him in a crate where he began to howl a blood curdling howl that only a hound can emit.  I mean it was LOUD.  I think this is where it breaks down.  Sleep deprived, the Goose stumbled back to bed where he informed me that he had placed the crate in the BACK SEAT OF HIS CAR.  It was a cool night and he would be comfortable there.  I informed him that there was about a 4” hole in the corner of the crate then.  The Goose shot back a snappy retort and I just let sleeping dogs lie. In the morning, I went to free the dog.  You know when, in cartoons, a character sees something so impressive that their eyes telescope in and out of their sockets making an ahooooga sound?  Uh huh.  I did that.  The dog had shoved his nose through the hole and eaten the back seat of the Goose’s upscale truck for men who want to say they drive a truck but really want a luxury car inside.  The seat.  He had eaten it.  He seemed none the worse for wear for this.  Upon informing the Goose of this, the dog was secured in the Goose’s office while the Goose had a tantrum that wove such a tapestry of obscenities throughout the universe that I’m sure Satan and his minions laughed with glee. I don’t know why I didn’t speak up about the wisdom of putting him in the office, that very same office,  but I’m sure the memory of “the incident” was still lurking in my mind.  In 10 minutes the dog had eaten the seagrass carpet off the stairs, jumped onto the desk and destroyed paperwork and made not one but two no-nos.  A call was made to Beagle rescue where he was placed that night.  During the night at his new home, he was left for an hour while his new owners went out to dinner.  They left him lounging on the sofa. I guess he was still hungry.