I suck at having a dog.
Here's the story. One day, I woke up and decided to go see a guy about a dog. That night, I had a dog. The End.
There's no in-between. No "I've been longing for a dog for so long and looked and looked for just the perfect one and read all the books including 'What to Expect When You're Expecting a Dog'." Nope. I just got. a. dog.
Since I brought this perfect little beast home, we've had quite the adventures. After the initial "honeymoon" stage, where I dubbed him as "the perfect dog" because he did not bark, bite, shed, shred or piss in the house, he's done this:
And after two months of shed free bliss, he started doing this:
Which is precisely what I had just cleaned out of the vacuum in the garbage photo above.
THEN, after acting all "Mr. Playa" at the pet store and charming everyone including me, my family, the trainer, and various other dogs and strangers, he decides he's AFRAID OF EVERYTHING. OK, I'm exaggerating. He's afraid of THINGS THAT WALK AND THINGS WITH WHEELS. Which if course makes it difficult to take him for a walk, let alone a bikeride.
So after coming up with a multitude of diagnoses on my own, i.e. 1) he was abused by something that walked or had wheels, 2) he was abused by something that walked AND had wheels, or 3) I have passed my anxiety issues on to my dog, I called up the guy who was instrumental in me getting this dog - Lucas, the Pet Trainer/Dog Whisperer at PetSmart. He first saw me clumsily doing laps around the store with Domino in tow as I tried to come to grips with what I thought I might be about to do - that is, purchase said dog. He approached me like I was wild game, calmed me, and showed me what a wonderful dog he was. "Look how he sits butted up to you. You're protecting him." "See how he goes up to other children. He's so friendly." "He comes when you call him - what a good dog."
Two months later, I'm on the phone with this Guru to the Canines. "Lucas! He hates things things that walk, especially children, and he hates wheels and he won't go for walks and he freaks out and does an Army crawl for the last four blocks back to the house and now he's shedding and he barks really loud and he ate my garbaaaaaaaaaageeee!!!!" I wailed. Lucas immediately booked me for a doggie therapy appointment the next day (he apparently has emergency hours).
In an hour, Lucas had me realizing that I can't parent a dog the way I parent a child. I can't "make" a dog do something or expect him to do - or not to do - something because I know it is or isn't right. Just because he isn't a puppy (and we're not convinced he's not) doesn't mean he doesn't still have much to learn. And I'm apparently teaching him the wrong way. And I CAN help him with his anxiety with things that walk and things with wheels, but it's going to take time. In the meantime, Lucas said, "Try this."
Yeah, it's a Thundershirt. For doggie anxiety. As seen on TV. I don't know who buried their head in their hands or paws more - me or Domino. The kids made fun of me. The neighbors gave him funny looks. He of course is humiliated. Does it work? I don't know - kinda, I guess? For now I've just taken to acting like the head of a S.W.A.T. team - making sure the coast is clear and sneaking him out the back door when all the walkers and things with wheels aren't looking.
So even though Lucas put my dog in a Thundershirt, the boys and I started Dog Training 101 with him last week. While my boys are excellent students, I'm a wreck. I'm too jerky with my hand movements. I get frustrated. I nearly started to cry when I couldn't get him to look at me when I said "WATCH!" (Of course, my 10 year old held his gaze for like 15 seconds.) Oh, and Domino? He did great. And we're back for more this week. By the way, Lucas is the bomb for any of you who have doggie deficiencies. And he doesn't make me feel like the horribly inadequate puppy parent that I know I am. And he's going to fix my dog. Well, not in that way - that's done. But he's going to hopefully make him less anxious.
I hope he can do the same for me as well.