Engaging Each Day with Action Words

Bark. — I don’t really like my dog.

on May 6, 2013

I know. I know. It is terrible. I feel just awful about it and hate even putting those words together in a sentence.

But please don’t judge me. Hear me out first.

I’m a dog person. I am. I have always had a dog in my life. Except for that one time that I had a cat. And while little Misty was sweet, we just didn’t get each other.

So, it has always been dogs for me.

Until now.

Maybe it is because our relationship began out of desperation. Maybe it is because I have expectations that are too high. Maybe it is because my life is just too hectic and busy. Maybe it is because our personalities just don’t match.

Whatever it is, all I know is that this has been hard.

And as hard as the past year has been, I can be certain that I have cried more about this dog than I have about the other hard things.

I have prayed just as much about this dog as I have about the other hard things.

I have even had nightmares about this dog.

One time, I dreamed that we all went for a casual walk in the woods. When all of a sudden, a huge black bear appeared and gobbled the dog up in one bite. I was just standing there, mouth hanging open, not knowing what to do next, holding a leash in my hand, as a big black bear lumbered away with the dog inside.

The next nightmare included a huge sinkhole that opened up randomly beside my house, taking the dog’s side yard where his ‘zip line’ lives, leaving the dog, sitting precariously on the edge of this huge muddy hole. In that one, my house was getting condemned and I actually called a friend to come and get him, because I couldn’t deal with him anymore…as I had bigger problems, obviously.

Later, I reflected that it was a good sign that the dog didn’t actually get swallowed up by the sinkhole. I mean, he did survive that one, so that must be a good sign, right?

So, what makes him so hard and difficult, you ask? Well, the list is long, but short. He doesn’t trust me. I don’t trust him. On the major side–He has shown signs of aggression that make me nervous. He has charged at all of us at one time or another. He has torn clothes and knocked little people down. He digs up my yard with huge, really huge holes (probably where the sinkhole dream stemmed from!)

He grabs anything that is on the floor and not for him and runs around my living room like a crazy dog, finally ending up behind the couch with the contraband. On the minor side–he has chewed up my couch pillows and coffee table.

Ultimately, there’s no joy; there’s no love. On the rare moment, that I could get him to lay beside me on the couch, so I could pet him, there would be a few lovely seconds.  Literally, I could pet him sweetly for about 2-3 minutes before he would start to gnaw at my arm as if it were a chew toy. When I look at him in the eye, really trying to understand him and his personality, there is really just…nothing. It is sad, I know. There is no connection. He doesn’t really like us.

I would describe him as a really bad roommate. He eats my food. He lives at my house. He messes up my yard and leaves a mess for me to clean up. He sleeps on my couch and makes a lot of noise. And he contributes … nothing.

And before you start giving me all of your great advice about how to make this better, let me just say, I’ve probably done it. I’ve probably tried it. I’m not new to this game, I’ve had dogs before. I know about alpha training. I’ve read a couple of books. In a very weak moment in the middle of the night, I’ve even ordered the program from the infomercial. I’ve even sadly invested in the shock collar and muzzle. Like I said, don’t judge me.

Every other day, I make a decision. I decide to actively pursue another home for him. The next day I decide to keep him and keep working with him.

Honestly, it is exhausting.

When I signed up for this, I was hoping for something so different. It was late one night, last summer. I was up late by myself, feeling a little lonely in the living room. When I realized, I was really missing having a dog in the house. I was missing Cayman and the comfort that Cayman always used to bring me. The very next day, I got a message about a litter of puppies, 14 of them, just taken to a Humane Society. Literally, buckets of puppies. I thought it was a sign. So I picked one out from a bunch of pictures—I’ll take the one sitting still, there in the middle, with the little white heart on his chest. I thought he was sitting still because he was the calm one.

From Day one, there was always something missing. He was always a little too much, a little off for us. There was never a bonding, never a connection. Maybe it was circumstantial. Maybe it was timing. Maybe it just wasn’t meant to be and I tried to force the situation. Maybe the dog is just a little…not right. I honestly don’t know for sure. I’ve unofficially diagnosed him with Attachment Disorders with a side of bipolar.  I’ve since learned that dogs from really big litters like that tend to be a little more aggressive, since they have probably had to fight for food and for attention. I’ve learned that the weaning process is important and can make or break trusting relationships.

Like I said, it’s exhausting. Really.

Alas. There’s no ending to this story. The dog is currently laying here on the floor by my feet. Everyday, my X is desperate to play with him. Y is kind of over him, except for the idea of him. Felix decided long ago that there was no fixing this one. And then there is me. The caretaker. Still trying to figure this one out.

And as I say every evening as I leave him downstairs with a prayer that he will be better tomorrow and that he doesn’t destroy my house tonight:

“Good night H. I want to love you.”


27 responses to “Bark. — I don’t really like my dog.

  1. Lots of dog people would give you hell for saying this I’m sure, but you sound like you’re doing all you can to make it work.

    • MommyVerbs says:

      I am kind of ‘steeling’ myself for the dog people to give me hell, but I’m hoping they will see it for what it is…a sincere cry for help and some kind of reassurance. I really do feel like I’m doing everything I can to make it work. I’m preparing myself for a good three years of hell, with sincere hopes that we will bond someday…all dramatic like on a soap opera. Thanks for the support by the way! You are all kinds of awesome!

  2. mandi says:

    I know how hard this has been for you and how MUCH you have done. My prayers are with you all as you continue your journey.

    • MommyVerbs says:

      Thanks Mandi. I really appreciate it. I feel silly and trite when I put the dog on the prayer list…but clearly I’m in need of a higher power with this one. ❤

  3. I think it’s wise to realize that there may not be a change in him for “whatever reason,” regardless of what you decide is best for you both in this “relationship” in the future. Any dog person who has ever been in a people relationship that came to an impasse will understand the problem is not limited to certain species.

    • MommyVerbs says:

      Thanks, I really appreciate the feedback. I do feel like I’m in a “make it work” kind of relationship. I’m fairly certain if he were a person, we would have broken up by now. I feel responsible and I keep trying to make it be about something bigger…something I’m supposed to learn from this experience. And maybe there’s not a lesson here…but maybe that is the lesson? Oy. See, exhausting.

      • Yes, I agree. My dad had a chihuahua he had inherited – bad temperament. When I’d get home from school, she’d climb in my lap while I did my homework & rest peacefully. The minute he walked in the door, she’d turn around, bite me and jump off my lap, as though I’d been holding her captive. Yet, every afternoon when I got home from school (even though I knew what to expect), I allowed her to climb back up into my lap. Sometimes you don’t know why you’re being bitten, but if you can give a little love & know not to expect too much in return, why withhold it, I guess, right? It teaches us to love better unconditionally. 😉

      • MommyVerbs says:

        That’s a great example of giving without expecting anything in return. Kind of the definition of unconditional love.

  4. writermomangela says:

    We just lost a dog last week and honestly I can tell you that in her youth I did not like her at all. In her old age she became a good dog and losing her was very sad but I totally get what you’re saying.

    • MommyVerbs says:

      Awww. I am so very sorry for your loss. I know how hard that is. I can still cry over losing our Cayman and it is going on three years–I get it. I have a good friend who said the same thing about her dog…that she didn’t like her at all for the first three years, now she adores her. You all give me hope that we will find a way to bond in the years ahead. Thinking of you and keeping you close. ❤

  5. Pink Wine says:

    Ache…My heart aches for you. I know the love and kindness you have in your heart and if there was ANYWAY that H could become a member of your family you would make it happen. STOP beating yourself up and find a good home for him. A farm where he can chase and chew and dig to his hearts content. And by the way…your blog gave me a good opportunity for a long cry that I have been needing! Love you much! Frye

  6. Kathleen says:

    “Love is patient. Love is kind…” And so is Sharon. Any dog person who saw you with Cayman (Wasn’t there an island dog prior to Cayman also?) would gve you nothing but support…which you deserve. Thinking of you and wanting to share your blog with the Dog Whisperer.

    • MommyVerbs says:

      Thanks Kathleen. Feel free to share away! I’ve actually looked at his website and it says he isn’t taking on any clients at this point. 😦 Feel free to try anything…Love ya! Will we see you next weekend? 🙂

      • Kathleen says:

        We’ll be up Friday through Monday or Tuesday. (If Stacy and Mark can put up with us that long!) I finish school next Thursday so i have some time this year!

  7. Lead Our Lives says:

    I honor your expression of honesty. I have a dear friend who does great work with people and their companion animals. A free phone consult may help you with a decision. Best wishes as you both find your way to a peaceful place.

    • MommyVerbs says:

      Thanks so much! I will look into your friend’s services. I did one-one-one dog training with him, but I was disappointed with the entire experience. This trainer thought H could just do a regular program even though I told her this one was different. I need someone who can read souls a bit more. I appreciate everyone’s support.

      • Lead Our Lives says:

        You know what? I gave you an old website…so sorry. here is the right one.

        I hope you will give her site a look and perhaps even have a conversation. Best of luck to you and your companion.

  8. Felix says:

    The dog simply has no brain.

    • MommyVerbs says:

      Now Felix. 🙂 Where’s your Fix-It-ness? JK, No need to respond to that one. 🙂 You know he’s not dumb…he’s just not very smart or savvy or something. And oh, so frustrating.

  9. Chris says:

    All I can say is EXERCISE EXERCISE EXERCISE!! Lily, our dear lab, was a TERROR for about 2 1/2 years. She chewed every shirt, every shoe, everything!! Keep away was her only game. She even chewed a seat off a bike and a kid’s cell phone – ouch. Every garden tool in our garage bears her teeth marks to this day. BUT we wanted her, sooooo multiple walks, ball playing, doggie day care…we were always looking for a place to let her run off steam. She learned to love us because we represented FUN. And we ADORE her! It is hard to only love your dog when it sleeps but this was our solution to changing that. Oh and Marty is definitely the alpha male – he took no shit from her and she adores him to this day. Exercise and discipline can only help create a good dog. GOOD LUCK – no one will even measure up to Cayman, so focus on Hatteras and his unique personality:)

    • MommyVerbs says:

      Thanks Chris! I know you love your sweet Lilly. Exercise is part of the issue. It has just been a challenge to fit that in when he is so difficult to play with. It is almost like he gets more aggressive when we try to play with him. But we could do more walks/runs with him for sure. At some time…between ball practices and crazy schedules. Will keep working with him. I’d love for him to start liking us at least–we need to work on some bonding issues.

  10. Jan Francis says:

    I think it is time to surrender him to the Humane Shelter. He is young and someone will adopt him. You’ve done all you can do. Don’t feel bad.

    • MommyVerbs says:

      Trust me. I’ve considered it. I just can’t bring myself to actually do that. Feels like I’d be giving up on him…quitting … and that just feels wrong. So…one day at a time. We’ll see how it goes.

  11. Amy says:

    aww, honey. I feel for you. That is a tough situation. Thanks for writing about this very human reaction to a very tough thing. xoxo

  12. 43fitness says:

    That’s a tough situation. My humane society rescue drew blood from me daily for about 6 months and drove me insane with his craziness. Even at only 13 weeks, he’d had such little direction from his foster family I wasn’t sure we were all going to make it….throw in the fact that he turned out to be 72lb instead of the 40lb we’d expected and you have a recipe for disaster. BUT we hung in there he just turned 4 yesterday. He’s been upgraded from ‘absolutely crazy’ to a ‘mostly’ dog now. My hope is that he’ll only get mostlier. So maybe time is on your side!

  13. […] get up early, sunrise early, to take the dog for a […]

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