Behind the Scenes of a First-Time Dog Owner

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I did not grow up with a dog in the house.  My mother came from a background where the carpets were vacuumed into a pattern and left to be that way for the entire day.

Pic of Jada & Tuck at Christmas
Jada & Tucker await Santa's visit at their first Christmas together

I Did Not Grow Up With A Dog in the House

Hairspray was only used in a special portion of the unfinished basement in an effort to keep the overspray under control.  Picture a single bulb hanging, maybe even flickering, in a dark corner near a small mirror.  I’m sure there was a shelf nearby to hold the giant can of Aqua Net.  Grandma didn’t like to clean the lacquer overspray off of every surface.  Considering that the hairspray of the day served the main purpose of holding a bee hive ‘do in place and achieving the perfect helmet head, I can’t say as I blame good ole grandma.

My dad was born loving animals.

I wasn't.

However, this illustrates exactly how much an animal was NOT expected to live in the house, but outside.  Dogs are animals.  Animals are dirty.  Nay, they are filthy.  My wise grandmother knew this.  She passed this knowledge down to my mother, who unequivocally forbade a dog in the house, especially in my young childhood.  We’ll talk about the cat (another form of filthy animal) on another post.

My dad, on the other hand, was born loving animals.  He raised fancy breed pigeons from an early age and carried that tradition on into his retirement.  He knew the value of an animal in the life of a child, and when he saw that his beloved daughter was born with an inherent fear of dogs, he decided it was time to fix the problem.  Upon great discussion and I’m sure great dissention, they made a decision.  A dog would come to be for us.  So entered Brandy into my young world.

A Fierce, vicious, teeth-baring, snarling animal

Brandy was a beautiful Doberman Pinscher.  Yes, a Doberman.  The breed known to be a fierce, vicious, teeth-baring, snarling animal used to protect junk yards and important buildings late at night.  A great choice of a pet for a fearful child, eh?  Except!  Our Brandy was different.  She came from an abusive household.  When she arrived home to us, she had Mange.  She was missing patches of hair.  She was malnourished and rib-bone protruding thin.  She had floppy ears, because her abusive owners had not clipped them in the style of a Doberman.  They had, however, personally seen to clipping her tail by whacking it off into a short stub.  She was goofy-looking, but needed a home, and passed the test for my mother when they went to visit and she demonstrated good behavior by resisting a sandwich on a plate placed near her face.  A simple command – “no, it’s not yours” did the trick and she left it alone.  Brandy came home.

Mom did not completely lose her sensibility in her efforts to keep dad happy, so Brandy was forbidden to live in the house.  My dad went to work, I suspect so thrilled to have an animal nearby that he was ready to provide in a big way for said animal.  Brandy had a beautiful home in the back of the garage where it was warm and out of the Michigan winter elements.  She could travel into the fenced area in the backyard through a doorway with weather flaps over it.  She had a warm fuzzy bed inside and plenty of room to stretch and frolic outside.  She was a happy member of our family – when we were outside with her.

pic of Jada napping on dad
Jada napping in her favorite spot... on top of dad.

Brandy did her job

Brandy did her job.  She taught me to love her.  How could a small girl resist the adoration that comes from a rescued dog?  She would sit for hours in the front yard on a blanket with me while I dressed her in doll clothes and a pair of those giant carnival-prize sunglasses.  She patiently laid there dressed in her fancy finery while I read her stories and talked to her like a best friend.  At the end of the day, back into her outdoor home she would go, and I into my indoor home.  It was bliss.

Brandy and I made so many happy memories together.  You see, because she was an outside dog, I was sheltered from the yuck-factor of a dog.  I didn’t see her scoot her bottom on the ground to clean her nether regions, nor did I see her lick her nether regions, for that matter.  I didn’t see her eat her own poop or vomit up whatever rotten animal that she’d just ingested.  I was oblivious.  I saw her as a perfect lady.  Brandy did her job.  She made me a liker of dogs.

 

Something was missing...

Many years later, after Brandy’s tragic passing one cold winter night as a very old and well-loved part of the family, I reached adulthood.  I was on the verge of forming my own “perfect family”.  But I could feel something missing.  Every perfect family has a dog, right?  You’ve seen the lovely outdoor pictures of the family, complete with tongue-lolling, calm dog, gazing into the camera with the look that says he is an important part of this group of humans.  He belongs and he knows it.  We didn’t have that.  We had the home, we had the 5 kids.  We had the big SUV and the weekend camping trips.  What was missing?  The dog!  That’s it!  The dog…  (Insert ominous drumbeats here).

And so I began my campaign.  I used the age-old technique of informing my husband we need a dog.  You know the conversation:  the one where I’m feeling all motherly and I either need another baby or a dog.  He promptly sighed with great angst and hung his head knowing he was surely going to lose the war, so what was the point of engaging in small battles over it.  He comes from a family who had dogs.  In the house.  He knows the secret.

So, after a brief time of looking, and knowing that there are too many dogs out there being bred carelessly, we decided to rescue.  We chose Jada, a six-week old lab mix puppy who was scheduled to be euthanized if a home was not found.  I brought her home with visions of children frolicking around the yard playing with her, dressing her in silly clothing, and generally loving her.  I dreamt she would delicately prance to the door to greet me upon entering at the end of a day of running kids and errands and naturally lie at my feet while patiently listening to the troubles of my day – That she would be calm and loving.  After all, she was part Labrador.  Aren’t those known to be the best family dogs out there?

 

I was about to have an epiphany.

Or an assault.

It didn’t take long to get into a routine with Jada once she was here. She was crate trained so that our home was safe when we were away.  Each morning I would tuck her into her crate and head off to work at my part-time job.  When I’d get home, I would come into the house with my wobbler son (not quite on his feet yet) and let my sweet dog outside then run to the bathroom.  Now you may be thinking this is a little too much information, but it’s critical to the rest of the story to know how our routine normally works.

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One memorable day, I came rushing in from work.  I had to use the ladies room.  It was a particularly urgent need and I found myself doing the potty dance as I made my way with the baby up to the bathroom.  No time to settle him in the living room.  We were on a mission to get to the potty!  I knew poor Jada had been in the crate all morning and needed out.  She was doing her best to impress on me just how much she needed out by screeching and yelping in her best doggy voice from before I even entered the door.

As I zoomed past her crate, with baby in my arms, I released the latch on her crate and made my way straight to the ladies’ room.  I plunked baby down on the floor and quickly got busy getting to the business at hand.  Jada came screeching in behind us, barely able to contain her excitement that we were home.  The next series of events happened so fast I hardly had time to think.

Disgusting!

As I delicately perched myself upon my throne, panties stretched out between my calves, Jada decided to enthusiastically take a wet, slobbery lick of the center of them.  Ew!  Disgusting!!!  As I was reacting, er, screeching at her to stop licking my undies, the baby made a terrible gurgling noise and proceeded to spit up his entire lunch.  Yup.  Right down the front of his shirt and all over the floor.  Jada seemed to think that this was a special gift just for her, so she enthusiastically moved from licking said panties to licking baby’s face and shirt.  Now in a full-blown panic at the double assault, I leaped from my throne to grab at her and pull her away from my poor son.  Right about that moment, as I was leaning over, bare butt exposed, she took her moment to slip between my knees, run behind me and take a giant lick of my lily-white cheek.  And I don’t mean the one on my face!

Holy cow!  We had been assaulted in multiple ways by our sweet, loving, family pet!  Where on earth was the calm, loving dog that calmly kept me company and laid peacefully near my feet adoring me!?  This dog was a disaster!  It only took a few seconds to shed the slimed panties and get a hold of the beast by her collar, and escort (probably more like drag) her to the back door where I released her into the yard.  What a site I made, shuffling, bent at the waist with my naked bottom hanging out, through the house, dragging a wiggling, spastic yellow furball by the collar.

Jada commenced barking her fool head off at any little anything in the backyard, while I rushed back up the 2 flights of steps to the bathroom to rescue my still-dazed and confused wobbler from the bathroom floor.  After a critical cleanup and a new set of clothing and undies for everyone, I regained a sense of control and went about the rest of my day.  But this day had scarred me.  Jada gave me my first lesson in indoor dog experience.

 

Check out these super cute doggy undies. Of course they're even better cuz' they have pizza on em. And they're actually pretty comfy, too!

And here's the AMAZING carpet cleaning machine I use. Check it out for when your dog (or your baby) throws up something gross. Cuz it will happen. I promise!

I reflected upon the wisdom of my grandmother, who knew the secret.  Bless my mom for trying to pass the lesson along to me.  Unfortunately, she failed.  It took my own experience with my own family dog to understand what everyone else already seemed to know:  Dogs are gross.  You see, if you have an ANIMAL in the house, it will likely act like an animal.  Animals do gross things.  Dogs are animals.  Therefore, DOGS ARE GROSS!!!  This epiphany has shaken me to the core.

Pic of Reba and Dolly in Christmas Clothes
Two dogs that came after Jada... Dolly and Reba

Before you worry too much about my own sweet children’s experiences with animals, though, know this:  Dad’s efforts were also fruitful.  Jada is no longer with us, but since she passed over the Rainbow Bridge, we have had 2 more dogs enter our home as members of the family.  They are also gross.  However, I am learning to balance the gross factor with the love factor.  Because despite the many, many nasty things my dogs do, I somehow still manage to love them.  Sometimes I love them just because they have no shame.  Dogs are gross and just don’t care.  Perhaps humans would be a little nicer if they cared a little bit less about some things.

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4 Comments

  1. Dad and I especially enjoyed this blog, perhaps because we were mentioned in it! I reflect back on the days when my house was clean without dog hair but that too has changed. We not only have a house dog but she has no boundaries. She is on our furniture as well as our laps and in our hearts!

    • I figured this might bring back a few memories for you two. 🙂 Brandy was special, wasn’t she? I remember her so well and with so much love.

  2. Wow what a great story and so well written. I do not remember Brandy probably because when visiting she was in her area behind the garage. I love the bathroom scene as I could picture it all from your excellent description. Yes I have handled vomit, pee, and poop around the house with the grace my mother would groan over. She didn’t like animals so maybe your dad got it from our dad. You know he had a horse once and he allowed Norm to have pigeons after much begging. But only pigeons of beauty not just a simple bird. Doesn’t it do your heart good to walk down memory lane?

    • Yes – it does my heart very good to travel down memory lane. I definitely got my love of animals from my dad and Grandpa. This house is never short on pets and never will be. Good thing my husband is so patient and tolerant. Ironically, the animals always seem to like him best. Go figure!

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