I am about to confess to something that will probably get me in a lot of trouble. We’re talking tarred and feathered, branded with some scarlet letter or another, turned into a social outcast and put on the phone solicitors’ Do Not Call list. My closest friends have suspected this deep, dark secret about me for quite some time, especially the ones whom I confess it to frequently and vocally (they are not slow on the uptake, my friends.) I fear that those who only know me in passing will be shocked, horrified and refuse to allow their children to be left alone in my presence. You see, the fact of it is, though I hate to admit it publicly, I just have to come out and say it, there are no two ways around it, I’m just going to give it to you it straight: I hate my dog.
There, I said it.
Don’t hate me too much.
Yes, my deep, dark truth is that I despise my dog. Deeply despise him. So much so that I fantasize about him getting in some near fatal accident from which he’ll never recover (but not painful, he’d be unconscious and wouldn’t feel a thing. I’m not cruel after all). I would have to say to the vet, my voice choking with false despair, “I don’t want him to live in pain. Just let him go. It’s the right thing to do.” And then I can walk back to my car with my shoulders slumped but a furtive spring in my step, my load lightened considerably.
I’m disgusting and hideous, I know. Avert your eyes please.
I suspect my vet is on to me because these days she only half-heartedly suggests any above-and-beyond measures of pet care, like cataract surgery, which she presents as, “This is an option if you want him to continue to see. [Weighty pause.] But these dogs do just fine once they go blind. Besides the surgery is very expensive. [Another heavy pause.] I’m sure you won’t want it.” And I just look down and shake my head, leaving my silent “no” to speak volumes. Last time I was at the vet, I asked her how long these type of dogs live. She said, “Oh these little dogs live a loooong time. He could have another six, seven years in him.” I couldn’t hide the horrified look on my face. A Munch’s “The Scream” expression just flickered over my face for a half a second, but I know she saw it. I was anticipating putting up with him for a couple or three years at most. My kids will be in college, and I might still have this damned dog!
OK, in all fairness I have to tell you it’s not the dog’s fault. He is a perfectly good dog. He doesn’t bark excessively. He is well trained. He seems to understand a fair amount of English. He cleans the floor after dinner. He is nice to the cats. He gets along with other dogs. He is good with kids and old people. He only barfs on the carpet occasionally. People really like him. He is a Good Dog. In my defense, I am nice to this dog. He is well fed and cared for. He is not neglected of his basic needs, and I make a point to greet him upon returning home and say goodnight to him with a pat on the head each evening. But there is no denying that my hatred of him is almost totally unfounded, which makes it all the more horrible and will probably land me in some doggy hell for eternity.
The crux of the matter is that his two major weakness conflicts directly and violently with my two major weaknesses. First of all, he is emotionally needy and I am emotionally spent. He needs a doting mommy and my mommy tank is 100% spoken for. I have been a stay-at-home mother for the last 13 years and a full-time homeschooling parent for the last six years. I gave up my career to raise my kids. I have been married for 18 years. We live in a lovely home, which I maintain. We eat home-cooked, nutritious and ecologically-responsible meals together as a family every night. I take care of one husband, two children, two cats, a dozen chickens, a hamster, fish, plus provide seeds for the wild birds in the winter and sugar-water for the hummingbirds in the summer. Did I mention my mother lives with us? And on top of it all is the dog, who requires a significant amount emotional energy, which sadly I don’t have. My emotional cup runneth dry, and this dog has a quenchless thirst. Yet he keeps on dipping his bucket into the well. Every day. All day long.
Our second clashing of supply vs. demand regards space. The dog is obsessed with me and I have a very restrictive sense of personal space. I abhor close talkers. Overly physical people make me uncomfortable. Even looking at me for too long feels invasive to me. And this damned dog can’t stop looking at me…or following me around…or watching me breathe… He looks at me in a way that suggests he worries that if he blinks I might just disappear. If I walk into the kitchen just to grab a drink of water and then quickly hot-tail it back to the couch, he has to get off the couch, follow me into the kitchen, watch me fill my glass with water, and then return with me back to the family room. He follows me so closely behind me that I have stepped on him when I took an unexpected step backwards. He’s like the suppository of the canine world.
My dog is my stalker, and it’s driving me crazy.