By: Revanche

Boundaries, respect, and righting some wrongs: A crappy conversation

September 17, 2012

There is definitely something to be said for setting boundaries.

I had plans, it seemed like so many plans for this weekend but they really boiled down to getting a huge list of work done because they really needed doing.

Instead, as I’ve heard it termed, I got VolunTold for a duty that I was very displeased to be set up with. I can’t decide if my favorite part was that I wasn’t even consulted or if it was that it triggered one of the worst episodes of physical pain I’ve felt in months.  After all, it was just assumed that since I was probably going to be around, I would deal with it.

Family was in town and instead of kenneling their semi-crazed, oversized, attention-starved pet that couldn’t stay with them in their arranged accommodation, they brought him to our place where, the last time he was left inside, despite being housebroken for his entire life, he peed a pee the size of the Great Salt Lake. But since everyone else had plans for the whole weekend “except for me” because I was “only” working from home, I was responsible for him.

Within minutes of arrival, he starting racking up a body count, human and canine, of targets he lunged at, trampled or nearly trampled in his manic bids for attention or half-mad disregard for current occupation of space and the numbers just kept ticking through the weekend. Any notion of leash manners was laughable, and after two walks, I thought my wrists and elbows might be permanently dislocated in trying to keep him under control. This was great for my health, needless to say, and I was on the heavy doses of narcotics before noon on Saturday. Those meds, I normally never touch. They’re for dire situations, used once or twice a year.

I can’t really wrap my head around the entire situation.

This dog clearly needs help – he’d nearly driven me insane by Sunday, and I knew it wasn’t really his fault. I was bedridden all day Sunday, thanks to his antics having undone all the good of the previous week’s destressing, good eating and exercise.

How is it not clear that this dog has issues?  

He: can’t sit still for up to two seconds to have a leash put on, trembles so viciously that he nearly collapses in his anxiety to run when told to wait for that leash to be put on, yowls like he’s being beaten when he’s got to wait for a door to open, is willing to trample anyone and anything in sight to get out and about, barks like he’s being chased like demons if he’s been held back for a few moments from racing down a hallway.  If you even look like touching a leash, he goes off like a pinball shot out of a chute. Any movement or sound triggers a panicked scramble to his feet and a racing to your side as if he’d been stabbed in the side. If I stood up, he was in front of me, blocking any step I made, he didn’t follow me so much as paced me backwards, not allowing me even an inch of personal space to even go to the bathroom. The anxiety comes off of him in palpable waves.

In any case, this basket case was beyond my physical capabilities to care for over the weekend, much less to Dog Whisper which isn’t in my job description even were I asked to deal with that. And since I wasn’t even granted the courtesy of being asked if I was happy to dogsit in the first place, the glamorous crippling opportunity that ruined my chances of accomplishing anything between the walking, the stalking, and the constant cleaning of fur and spillage, there wasn’t a bowl of food or water he wouldn’t run through or kick over. I thought Doggle and I were the certified klutzes!

I have no idea how much it would cost to get this guy some therapy or re-training but he seriously needs some help. And no, before you ask, he’s not perturbed because he was a rescue – he was purebred and obtained from a breeder, raised from puppyhood. He also wasn’t always like this.

The point is, the responsibilities of a pet owner are myriad and owners should be prepared  for all necessary costs including health care, training, hygiene, and placement if you travel. One couldn’t possibly imagine that pets are welcome everywhere much less showing up virtually unannounced.

The cost of kenneling him should not be worth too much but I’m actually sitting here pondering the likelihood this conversation will go well and hoping the family see reason because either way, this can’t happen again. My health is not a lower priority than the dog’s putative happiness or the supposed value of keeping the “whole family” together. Of course, this isn’t my side of the family so they very well may think otherwise. Meanwhile, this is our home and while I don’t like to make difficulties there has to be at least some basic respect.

More than ever, I’m ever so grateful for Doggle, and he’s worth every penny we’ve paid,  every minute we’ve spent playing and training, and a bargain in every sense of the word.  He’s finally being more of that therapy dog I wanted, entertaining but mellow. He had his first SQUIRREL! moment this weekend and tried to chase it up a tree, actually trying to run up the tree trunk after it.  He seemed surprised when he didn’t make it.

19 Responses to “Boundaries, respect, and righting some wrongs: A crappy conversation”

  1. Katie C. says:

    I really hope the conversation with the family goes well, but then again, I don’t really care if their feelings are hurt or they get upset because YOUR HEALTH IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN THEIR PET. One would assume (incorrectly in this case) that your condition would be a consideration since they already know their pooch is a handful (surely they don’t think his behavior is normal). This just can’t be an option anymore. Your pet is your responsibility, period. I’m still just dumbfounded by people and their pets. I suppose they believe because they love their pet so much everyone else will too. SMH.

    • Revanche says:

      Evidently, his behavior is filed under “pretty normal, though he just annoys me a lot.”

      So they’d consider that acceptable to dump on someone else to deal with. THANKS.

  2. Quest says:

    It sounds as though you are coming to the end of your rope with certain familial situations too! I hope that you are physically recovering from the weekend but, by the sounds of it, looking after this dog is not something you would want to do again. Hope you can get the family to realize that. It sounds as if there is a presumption that you will do it whenever required……

    My brother in law has a large retriever that is uncontrollable. He was looking for someone to dogsit while he was out of town and everyone said, No Way. The problem is, the dog is left alone all day for hours in a boring, hot back yard with no shade. It is cruel and, as a result, the dog is neglected and crazed. The best thing he could do for that animal would be to find it another home but ….. my BIL is lazy and thoughtless.

    • Revanche says:

      Yes, I am, different fronts but same level of patience! Unfortunately, not recovering and I’m not happy about that as I had plans to travel soon. 🙁

      I feel as bad for the dogs involved as I do for the other people – everyone is collateral damage here.

  3. o

    How could anybody be so inconsiderate as to foist an out-of-control animal on anyone, friend or relative? Especially if they happen to know said F or R might be dealing with some health issues!

    Y’know what I would’ve done? I would have dosed that critter with a hefty slug of Benadryl. Dogs can tolerate more Benadryl than humans can. And interestingly, it has the same effect on dogs as it does on humans: puts them to sleep. I’d have knocked Fang into La-La-Land and kept him there till his humans got back.

    Stupid people.

    You and PiC need to find new jobs in New Zealand. Far away from the bizarre relatives.

    • Revanche says:

      I am appalled that Benadryl didn’t occur to me. I know it works on him and I know generally how much works on him too, he’s had to be on it more than once!

  4. Last time there was a city evacuation, my sister’s friends brought their large dog to stay at our house uninvited and unasked. (My sister probably said it would be fine no problem, but she may not have.) Turns out their dog hates children and we had a small (terrified) child. Not cool. Next time there is a city evacuation we say up front that there’s no pets invited.

    If you don’t want to be upfront and honest about your health, you can also say that he just doesn’t get along with your dog. If your health is not as important as a dog’s happiness to your family, at least your dog’s happiness should be as important as theirs.

    • Revanche says:

      Oy, that’s why I always insist that PiC ASK directly, himself, and hear it HIMSELF from the home-dwellers. He used to look at me oddly and I would stomp my foot and say, I do not care if you think it’s fine, I insist. Even if we know our pet, I want to hear it and know it and I do the same for my side: full disclosures and conversations about expectations.

      And unfortunately, our dog acts like he’s fine with it. He’s not really because he kept trying to escape quietly and subtly, when it was just the two of us, and let me convince him to come back, but they wouldn’t believe it because he’s otherwise “fine” in front of them.

  5. 🙁 First of all, I am very sorry to hear how much pain this caused you.

    I am also so sad for this poor dog. I sincerely hope that a conversation about what to do with the dog next time goes well, and that something can be be done to help him.

    I just can’t understand how anyone would think that they can just drop their lunatic dog in someone else’s lap, and even more so, I can’t understand how anyone could ignore the signs that their dog really needs help dealing with anxiety.

    • Revanche says:

      I am, despite how frustrated I was with him, incredibly sad about him too. He wasn’t always like this. He’s a different dog from what he used to be and that’s because his home environment is different. And he’s allowed to live in a state of anxiety because they think that means he’s happy and active or they can’t be bothered to try and calm him. I don’t know or understand what it is, other than sad.

  6. oh dear. I’ve had my fair share of backpain where I was totally bedridden or floor ridden. Can’t imagine needing to deal with a dog during those times. Poor you!
    Doggle must have looked at him and thought, “Boy, is that one a mess!”

    • Revanche says:

      Thing is, much as Doggle’s a doof and a crack up, he’s also somehow sensitive to my times of pain. He may run me right over most days but when I cannot move, he waits until I can to walk him and he doesn’t mow me over to get out or to put on his leash, etc. He’s utterly cooperative. Same cannot be said for the other one who put me out in the first place.

  7. fabulously frugirl says:

    Oh my! I hope you are able to get some rest and feel better soon. Your health and happiness should ALWAYS come before any pet. Period. Your family should know better, and you need to make it clear to them, for the sake of your health (and sanity).

    I have a few family members with dogs, and my parents have had their fair share of dogsitting. Luckily, the really mis behaved dog was never one we had to dogsit. This dog was clearly not taken care of – he’s a very active dog (greyhound), and is always cooped up in the house. My sisters and I took him out for a walk once, but never again – the dog was completely overwhelmed to be outside. He was so excited to see everything that he couldn’t even walk in a straight line – he’d go one way, but then, he’d smell something else, and turn his head and front of body in that direction, before he could get his hind legs to do the same. It was so sad.

    • Revanche says:

      I will admit Doggle is equally uncoordinated at times but that applies in or out of the house! And he could learn better manners with people but that’s a work in progress.

  8. oilandgarlic says:

    I never understood why people force others to accommodate their pets when visiting. If someone is not comfortable or just doesn’t want to dog-sit, that should be end of the story. Plus, if the person agrees, the dog has to abide by house rules. I knew someone (family) who kept insisting everyone include her dog in every activity during a family vacation, even if the dog threw up in long car rides and other family members didn’t really like dogs.

    • Revanche says:

      Yes, I guess people assume that since they think of their pets as children, everyone has to accommodate them as such.

  9. […] an interesting thought exercise.  On the one hand, I haven’t had the experience of people caring enough to want to be open and honest with people in my real life about my health, my thoughts about my […]

  10. […] this week, I find I’m so far past the end of my rope, with this nonsense which wasn’t solely about the dog, but really from the offhanded selfish attitude that I […]

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