One cause of my recent lack of blog posts has been the two dogs to the left. Cute, yes. Well-behaved, no.
It all started back on April 8th when I took Katy to our new vet at PetSmart for a routine checkup and a refill on her heartworm meds. Charlie was there, newly rescued from an indian reservation in Oklahoma. After several discussions with the rescuing vet and Travis, we adopted Charlie. We did not know what we were signing up for.
While some behaviors like guarding her food and putting her paws up on the kitchen counter were quickly remedied, other behaviors like peeing inside the house, waking up at god-awful hours like 2 and 4 a.m., and disappearing into the juniper bushes behind our house to avoid being disciplined are still works in progress.
In those first days, I wasn’t working yet so the most challenging aspect of having Charlie was that she didn’t like her kennel all that much and would start whining and banging around to be let out at the hour of 5:00 a.m. most days (and when you’re unemployed, that is a VERY early hour to rise). My initial ideas were to 1) let her out to pee, then put her back into her kennel and go back to bed; 2) leave her outside and go back to bed; 3) leave her out of her kennel and go back to bed. Notice the familiar theme? Well, not a single one of those options worked. Putting her back into her kennel only caused her to whine and sometimes bark. Leaving her outside started a barking contest between her and the neighbor’s dog. And leaving her out invited either little surprises left around the house or her pawing at our bedroom door. So I finally sucked it up and realized that my reality was I just had to get up and stay up. During that period, I actually knew what was going on in the world from watching the morning news and I got a lot of curriculum editing done (both of which have dropped to nothing since I started my job).
Adding to the frustration of the early mornings was Charlie’s refusal to sit still or lay around for longer than 30 minutes at any given time. Therefore, my afternoon naps were also out of the question. I couldn’t let Charlie just wander around the house because she still didn’t quite understand that she needed to hold her bowels until we were outside. So I’d be just dropping off into a most glorious slumber when Charlie got up and walked off down the hall. I would call Charlie back, lay there for 10 seconds cursing my life, and then get up and follow after her. It didn’t work either to have Charlie lie with me on the couch but she is the squirmiest dog EVER. She will NOT lay still for anything but instead feels the need to stick her cold, wet nose on your cheek and lick your neck. Again, very cute, yes. Charming? No.
Then there were the walks. Being a rescue from a reservation as well as a puppy with loads of energy, Charlie did not (and still doesn’t) understand the concept of a leash. Taking two dogs on a walk would be a challenge regardless, even if one of those wasn’t swerving back and forth the entire time, trying to get to things beyond the reach of her leash, and running into the other dog as if they weren’t even there. On those walks, I admire Katy’s patience – instead of snapping, growling or barking, she just steps around Charlie, going on her merry little way. I, on the other hand, wanted to kick Charlie. I’m not a good doggy mommy.
Ah, and then there have been the times when Charlie peed on the floor in our house right in front of me. First, she went into the corner behind the chair in our living room. Then, I walked into our bedroom just as she was squatting down. Then, I was laying on the couch attempting to take a nap and she decided that right in the middle of the room was the best place to relieve herself. On every one of these occasions, as soon as it clicked in my head what she was doing, I spastically yelled “NOOOOOOO!!!!”, scaring the living daylights out of her so much that she promptly stopped long enough for me to get her outside to finish what she started. (Although now, for some reason, Charlie can’t hold her bladder when she’s scared, and she’s scared of us often - our own doing - so we find little puddles of pee around.)
I tell these tales (slightly) light-heartedly now but let me assure you, there have been many angry, enraged outbursts from both me and Travis. This dog (and Katy, who I will get to shortly) has tested our patience, kindness, longsuffering, and sanity more than I ever thought she would. It is only by God’s grace that both of these dogs are still alive (I’m serious). To deal with the frustration, I have locked the dogs outside or locked myself in another room. I have lectured them (which actually made them scared of me – now whenever I lecture them, Charlie runs and sits in her kennel). I have smacked them both on the heads, grabbed their collars and dragged them forcefully when they wouldn’t come willingly, and shook their heads with force. I have also ignored them, shouted at them, and been a little rougher than I would if I wasn’t mad. I’m not proud to admit these things and I do not think it is ok to treat dogs, even though they’re animals, like this. In Charlie’s case, she doesn’t know better.
But Katy does. Katy is a smart dog and she’s not a puppy so she has been trained, taught and disciplined. When she grabs a pair of my pants from our bedroom and drags them out into the living room (but doesn’t chew them), all you have to do is hold them up in front of her and she cowers. She knows that’s naughty. Katy has also removed and chewed up items from our bathroom garbage can (some more disgusting than others), relocated shoes from the garage to outside, and slept directly on my bedroom pillow. But while I worked at home, and then was unemployed, these episodes were at a minimum.
But then we got Charlie. We don’t leave Charlie out of her kennel while we’re gone for potty-training reasons, which has caused Katy to seriously go berserk. She has started chewing blankets up again and pulling stuff out of the bathroom garbage. We started putting all of our blankets into a wicker basket but I came home one day to find Katy had dumped the wicker basket over, pulled out all the blankets and chewed up a few she hadn’t gotten to before. She’s tipped over potted plants, picture frames, and coasters. But in the past 3 weeks (since I started working), she has taken her mischievousness to new heights.
It really started the weekend we got a “new” couch. We bought it from a girl I used to work with for $25. It wasn’t in perfect condition but it was a nice couch – a dark tannish brown microsuede with seats that didn’t get pushed out when you sat on it. I was pretty excited. That was Saturday. Monday at lunch, Travis came home to let the dogs out and discovered that Katy had chewed two giant holes in the couch and pulled out a bunch of stuffing. The holes also happened to be in locations where they can neither be repaired, nor re-covered. The couch is toast. While we were thinking about what to do (luckily we kept our old couch), I decided to put the old couch cover on the new couch, hoping to dupe Katy into thinking it was the old one again. But like I said, she’s smart. When Travis came home on Tuesday, he found Katy had chewed through the cover in the exact same spots to the holes she had created the day before and once again pulled out stuffing. Thus we began locking her into the laundry room while we’re at work. It hurts us to do so, but she absolutely cannot be trusted anymore.
A couple times this past week, though, we have felt crazy and ventured the risk to trust them. Charlie has gotten much better with the potty-training and both times we’ve left both of them out, Charlie hasn’t done anything inside – except perhaps to follow Katy’s lead in destroying everything in sight. Yesterday, Travis came home from work to find that the dogs had somehow pulled down the curtains and curtain rod in the living room – hooks, sheetrock anchors and all – as well as knocked over everything sitting on the windowsill (things we had on there to teach them to NOT walk on it), pulled stuffing out from the couch,and grabbed cardboard boxes from the kitchen and chewed them to little shreds, which they scattered everywhere. Travis said that it looked like a bomb had gone off. It took him 45 minutes to clean up the mess.
So once again, we’re back to both dogs being locked up all day long. We hate to do that but it’s necessary if we want to protect the limited possessions we have left untainted. I’m sure that Katy’s rebellion is the result of my returning to work. At first, we thought she was acting out because Charlie was locked up. Well, her behavior with Charlie has proven to us that that is not the case. If anything, she coaxes Charlie into being an accomplice. I’m hoping that this will get better with time, as Katy readjusts to this schedule and we are more intentional about taking them on walks and runs. But in the meantime, I am praying for God to give us grace because this has been a huge test of our patience and love for our pooches. Travis calls them Pooches O’Hoolihan (like Patches O’Hoolihan from Dodgeball). I call them The Hooligan Twins. They are a handful to say the least.