Tuesday, November 25, 2008

An Anxious Separation

Crazy lady is a "cat person." She lives an independent and solitary life, filled with writing, books and travel. Cats are independent and solitary creatures, who demand affection on their own terms. She feels a strange kinship with those evil tormentors (oops, sorry, CATS). She never liked dogs. Crazy lady used to believe that dogs were needy and stupid. Then, she inherited Abby, a pit & boxer mutt.
The first day crazy lady brought Abby home, the mutt started to bleed all over the furniture, carpet and newly cleaned hardwood floors. Crazy lady flipped out and thought Abby was dying. She took the dog to the emergency room, where she discovered that Abby was "in heat." Did you know that dogs get periods? Crazy lady was clueless. The web did not exist, back then. The vet was very nice about the "emergency visit" and didn't charge crazy lady full price. Instead, the vet took the time to explain doggy menstrual pads and cycles. She also gave crazy lady a couple of books written by Monks. They explained how to raise puppies, and the general characteristics of dogs. Finally, she put crazy lady in touch with a local dog training organization, so she could learn the importance of obedience and maintaining a pack hierarchy in the household. Crazy lady's dog education started the evening Abby was rushed to the emergency room.

That same evening started something else-- whispers from loving friends, who said "give her up." They insisted that crazy lady was insane for keeping Abby. Her kind friends were worried about the stress of having a dog on crazy lady's already hectic life and limited income. Back then, her day job was working for non profits, and her night job was writing $50 stories for horror magazines. Her friends kept telling her, over and over, "You don't owe Danny. He's dead. He would understand, if you gave Abby to a better home."
Crazy lady ignored her caring and concerned friends. Hip dyplasia diagnosed at an early age? Pain management programs for dogs? Acupuncture? $8000 for hip replacement surgery? Zero understanding of the word "no?" A midnight trip to the emergency room because Abby bit her eye? The "give her up" whispers escalated, but crazy lady was stubborn and falling in love. Abby had floppy ears, a wonderful disposition, and a full "body shake"whenever crazy lady walked into the room. Unconditional love was rare, and Abby provided her with endless devotion. So what if she had very little money? Abby had wormed her way into crazy lady's heart.

Then, total destruction of her house-- and crazy lady paused.
Crazy lady clearly remembers the day it happened. She was tired, depressed and worried. She had to work late, and Abby was home alone for too long. The mutt was already showing signs of stress-- drinking too much water, destroying anything left on the counters, eating entire tennis balls, and pulling the sheets off the bed. The Monk books said Abby had separation anxiety, and they gave crazy lady some tips: crate Abby during the day, give her more toys, turn on the radio for background noise. The books warned crazy lady to "never be angry at the dog. Too much time would have passed, and they don't know what they did wrong."

The doggy books never explained how to handle the shock of seeing thousands of pages ripped from novels and tossed all over the floor. Hundreds of books, bought by crazy lady with hard earned money since she was 12 years old, were demolished. First edition Anne of Green Gables, her very own short stories published in Fantasy magazine, and her collection of Freud's letters were completely destroyed. Crazy lady was swimming in shredded book bindings when she walked through the door that fateful evening. She looked towards the living room, and saw her furniture ripped, with the stuffing tossed on the floor. The teak chairs were chewed to pieces, and the computer cables were pulled from the carpet.
Crazy lady sat in the hallway and cried. She called a close friend, sobbing, and asked, "do you want a dog? I don't know what to do." She remembers her friend's response:

"You want real problems? I'm pregnant with twins, HIV positive, my husband can't keep a job, my mother is still clinically insane and locked up, and I can't see my ankles. Stop bitching, clean your house, and kiss your damn dog."

Crazy lady tried to argue. "But I'm not a SAINT--"

"Shut up," said her friend. "You convinced us that you wanted that dog, even after we begged you to give her up. That dog loves you. You are that dog's world. You don't give children back because they have problems. You figure it out, and find a solution that works. You have friends and family that will help you. Just ask."


"Don't be an idiot. What's the damn dog doing, right now?"

"Licking my face."

"Ugh, I can't deal with you, right now. Call me when you have REAL problems!"

Crazy lady hung up the phone. Abby was licking the tears from crazy lady's face and shaking her butt. Crazy lady took her friend's advice and gave Abby a hug & kiss. She got off the floor, cleaned the house, then bought yards & yards of fabric to cover her book shelves and furniture. She hired a friend to walk Abby twice a day; and her parents would visit, to play with Abby and keep her company if crazy lady had to work late. Later, when she could afford it, she started Abby in doggy day care. And, as Abby grew older, crazy lady was able to find a job that let her work from home.

Abby died in January. It was a challenging 14 years for both of them, but crazy lady would never have changed the time she had with Abby. I'm quieter, more of a loner, and more obedient than Abby. But when I greet crazy lady with a "full body wiggle" hello, she laughs. She's still a cat person, but Abby's joy taught crazy lady to love dogs. Because of that mutt, crazy lady loves and accepts me for the dog I am. Thank you, silly dog.


Isis said...

That was such a touching story. Thank you for telling it.

I went through hell and back with my cat B.B. (Bitchy Bitch) but I forgive and forget. Animals bring us so much joy its a small price to pay.


diana said...

Abby was the best dog ever.

i'm a cat person who makes no apologies about it, but Abby won me over the second i met her.

she was shameless when it came to begging for food at the table, or stealing goodies left unattended by distracted humans.

though i always liked her, we didn't truly bond until Crazy Lady decided to up and move to Denver, and me, being the err... adventurer? that i am, volunteered to go along for the ride. Abby and i spent most of Utah and Wyoming sleeping in the back seat while Z and crazy lady took care of the driving. we were of a same mind, Abby and I, there realy wasn't anything better to do than sleep (that is one seriously boring stretch of I-80).

First morning in the new house in Denver i wake up to the sounds of a tortured soul. someone or something is hurting Abby bad. i scramble out of the basement all grogy eyed and half asleep at the tender hour of 10am to find that there's nobody hurting Abby, she's just very sad because Crazy Lady has abandoned her in an empty house (i don't count, clearly. whatever bonding i though happened on the road was completely one sided; i am NOT the one she wants right now). it took my still asleep brain a bit to come up with the brilliant idea of showing Abby her leash. the tortured soul was no more, instead i was being led by an over eager, incredibly strong puppy! (did i mention i'm a cat person? cats don't go out for walks, cats don't require their humans to know how to handle a leash). half an hour or so later we came back home to find Crazy Lady and Z back. All was good in Abby's world.

I miss her still. She was the best dog ever.


Wild Dingo said...

Oh boy do i know that kind of destruction. and the books are right. you can't do ANYTHING about it after the fact. no sense yelling. i just look at my little wiggly husky and laugh when she pulls out all the stops and tries to get my attention. she'll do anything for a treat or some lovin' so that makes up for my car seat, my victorian molding in my office, our porch railing moldings, our shoes, flip flops and hats and everything else she tries to eat. i try not to crate her cuz she tries to eat the wire bars and hurts her teeth! so we confine her to one area of the house and yard when we're gone to keep destruction to one area. sigh. what we do for our "kids."