Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened. – Anatole France
The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated. – Mahatma Gandhi
I’ve been blessed with an incredibly adept dog. She is smart, she is part German, and she is a fucking bitch. She isn’t a bitch because she is part German. They are mutually exclusive, just so there isn’t any sort of sensitivity training courses I need to attend. Her nature is just to be highly protective and territorial.
This is the first dog I’ve had since she was a puppy. She was a floofy meatball when I met her, and she is still a floof, but brawny. (For those not in the know, internet vernacular has altered terms to make them sound less anthropomorphic and more canine-y – this particular term is how most people would envision a dog trying to say the word: fluff.) She is a medium-sized dog, with Corgi legs, and a German Shepherd bark.
Similar to me, she hates EVERYONE who isn’t me. Did I train her specifically to be that way? Hell no. She was imprinted upon by her big brother when she was first introduced into my married family at the time. He was a gentle spirit. He was elderly and had lived a life less desired with his previous OWNER.
I use the word OWNER to signify the fact that this individual looked at the dog as a chattel. Merely a piece of property. There were stories of some of the abuse he suffered, but these stories had overwhelmingly been corroborated when he tore his ACL. The vet visit was pensive and fraught with despise for man. The X-Ray of his hind hips showed his hind legs had been so gnarled and twisted without proper recovery. Just absolutely sickening.
I had him for the last 4 years of his life. I did my best to give him a much better life. He fucking dreaded car rides. He was so nervous. He was a tank, we gave him Dramamine and Benadryl, per my vet’s direction, and the bastard wouldn’t knock out in the back seat. I lost my patience a couple of times when he tinkled in the house. Trust me, when I reflect on it, I think of myself as an asshole.
I never beat him. He already had that in his life, he didn’t deserve any more punishment for man’s inability to cope. He was well-loved and cared for. When he had stomach issues, he got the bland diet, which just evolved, all the time. He loved his homemade food.
One time, while still married, we fed him a Thanksgiving treat of ALL the turkey skin. What a fucking catastrophe. The morning after Thanksgiving, I wake up around 4 in the morning, needing to go to the bathroom. It smelled like shit, and as my eyes acclimated to the night, I could have sworn I saw splotches all over the white tiled floor.
I flipped on a light, and sure as shittin’, he had shit from one end of the house to the other. The poor guy’s trail led to the door to get outside. I woke up the wife, at the time, and we proceeded to scrub the hell out of the house. We both reassured him that he did nothing wrong. What a beautiful tormented soul.
Towards the end of his tenure with us, Ellie, the current dog came to us, by way of the wife’s (at the time) mother, who wanted a dog. She got one from Craigslist. The dog fucking hated that woman from day one. She couldn’t bond with this puppy. Ellie was a bitch from day one or two. The wife’s (at the time) mother asked if she (the wife – at the time) would want the dog. There were angels trumpeting in heaven, according to the wife (at the time) as I had the tormented doggie, who was always by my side. She wanted her own doggie.
I hadn’t seen or met this dog yet. I had heard the puppy being billed as beagle chihuahua mix, as the ex’s mother loved beagles. What we got was nothing of the sort. Ellie was named by the ex’s mother, and it stuck. Every time this dog saw her original ‘owner’ she would growl. She wasn’t gonna have any of that batshit crazy.
The wife (at the time) tried to bond with the new puppy, toting her around similar to Paris Hilton carting pooches in purses. It had been a few weeks before I was slated to meet the new addition, as we lived a semi-separate life. Once this puppy met me, it was love at first sight, between both of us. I knew the boundary was, this is the wife’s (at the time) dog, and I got mine.
To shorten a long story, the dog bonded with me heartier than she did with the ex. It got so bad, that the ex found herself being served legal papers by a sheriff’s deputy, from her ex-husband, whom she had kids with, and failed to pay attention to where the dog was in the house. Ellie bolted out of the house and bit the sheriff’s deputy’s pant leg.
That was her epiphany. The lackluster control of a very intelligent dog will surface quickly. All smart dogs need someone to guide them and check their egos. They have a mission and it isn’t to be led around by a blind person. There are so many uber-intelligent dog breeds out there. Most of the time, when you have a German-Shepherd or mix, they will be incredibly attentive for direction.
The wife (at the time) learned at that moment, that she had no control, and Ellie would be killed if she didn’t relinquish her. With her proverbial tail between her legs, she sheepishly asked if I wanted Ellie. It should be noted, my first dog breed preferences are, as I coin it, snow dogs. This means, Siberian Huskies (NUMERO UNO — that’s number one, in Spanish, if you didn’t catch it), Alaskan Malamutes, Akitas, Samoyed. Any cold-weather dog is the go-to breed that I drool over.
Ellie was none of these things. Zilch. She was GS (German Shepherd) mix, so that was close enough. GS’s and Collie’s also fit my list, after all of the snow dogs. I love intelligence. I love progress. I need these things in my life. Having a dog is no different.
Ellie, as had been noted earlier, has been imprinted upon by her big brother, who hated car rides. Ellie LOVED bye-bye rides. She helped reverse the imprinting and her big brother traveled so much better, with her. He was much less anxious and acclimated well to rides with her by his side. It was so interesting to see this particular symbiosis in action, all before my very eyes.
We lost her big brother. He had so many issues plaguing him, yet he kept a smile on his muzzle. He is dearly missed and I was there to make sure I was the last thing he saw at the vet’s office. That is important to me. Being there for the bad, as well as the good. The pain was so intense, compounded by my failures as a pet parent to better protect him while under my watchful eye.
Ellie was a source of happiness. She dovetailed the whole experience quite well. She didn’t make her big brother’s passing simpler, but she was the appropriate distraction and reminder of how much better her big brother’s life was with all of us in it! Ellie was a god-send if we must ascribe some deity-like gratitude.
Once the divorce happened, Ellie would never need to see her second mother. She knew she was a daddy’s girl from the first day we ever laid eyes on each other. Ellie and I have taken many road trips together. So much so that she has 14 states on her resume, of which her four paws have trampled upon. I refer to her as the Perfect Pint-sized Passenger. She is my heart. She is the center of my universe.
We traverse to national parks, state parks, city parks. She loves to walk, hike, chase her ball, or just about anything outside. She even goes snowshoeing with me. This little bitch IS a snow-dog. The aforementioned deity saw to it, that I got my snow dog with completely different packaging.
Now, speaking of hikes let’s air out some angst. In earlier articles, I’ve shared that I grew up in a pet store. YOU DO NOT GROW UP IN THAT ENVIRONMENT WITHOUT LEARNING HOW TO APPROACH ANIMALS! All those caps preclude me from needing to repeat myself. When you have a fervently pro-animal mother, you learn to temper your immediate channels of excitement.
Now, we all get the idea that everyone thinks their dogs are the fucking cutest ever. The prerogative has no bearing here. Yes, Ellie is adorable, and again the center of my universe. I do not expect to believe everyone thinks the same as me, yet this is the very fucking hell I am tormented with. She is so goddamned cute, that people associate cute with: FRIENDLY.
Nothing could be further from the truth with Ellie. She fucking hates you. I cannot stress this enough. She doesn’t need to know you, she just knows you are not me, so she hates you. She will alert me of your presence. She will also alert YOU of your presence, not being wanted.
The torment appears daily if I am hiking or walking Ellie and other people are about. Again, this false equivocation of Cute = Friendly/Approachable fails the tautology time after time. I am very gruff when I hear people comment on her being cute and then attempting to advance closer to her.
I was sniped by a potential date partner once for being so gruff. Suggesting I be more gentle in disseminating the fact that this dog must not be approached. Do you know how long it takes to try to ‘educate’ people positively? It takes a while. And then some still fail the course because they tuned my message out, because of how cute my fucking dog is.
I determined that that advice was a crock of shit. I went back to my gruff demeanor. If you have read my previous articles, and have a better understanding of how I operate, you know I am hyper-vigilant. I am always scanning the landscape for threats. It is amplified when Ellie and I go hiking. It already seems unmanageable to those that have never used that much brainpower. To add the factor of: MUST PREVENT ANYONE ADVANCING TOWARDS MY DOG, takes it to a whole new level of eyes looking every and anywhere a perceived threat could come from.
I will flat-out tell kids, just commenting how cute my dog is: “Leave the dog alone.” I don’t have the luxury of time to explain this, because then a whole group of people would congregate and something bad would happen, to MY dog. Again, this dog is the center of my universe. I will be mortified if something happens to her that was due to the poor decisions of a human.
My dog is not for your personal consumption of happiness. Adore her from a distance. Yes, she gets to know some people and tolerates them. She loves me, and she will allow her adopted ‘gram-gram’ to take her on car rides. She acclimates slowly, just like me. A better pairing of a dog couldn’t have been made.
Yes, a piece of positivity, parting my fingers on my new-fangled typewriter. I am not devoid of sharing happiness. I am a very consternated person. I think long and hard, and some of you have shared with me just how deep my rabbit holes go. I appreciate that kind of feedback. I am writing from a place of integrity and hoping to reach people.
Now, to the parents of children versus the parents of pets. Ellie takes complete focus when we are anywhere from the safety of our home. I am more focused on her than most parents of children are of their kids. The adage of the ‘momma bear’ protecting their children, can easily apply to my bond with my dog. For any parent of children to intimate that pet parents, people devoid of populating the world with more ogres and unkempt behaviors, have no clue, which is ridiculous. The fact that I pay attention to my dog means I would be a better parent to children, had I have had any.
Not all planet populators, those that like sex, are bad people, inherently. As general as general can get, that last Yoda statement makes its point. The fact that parents need as many distractions as their kids do, means they are not focused. If you spent as much time, not micro-managing, with your kids, focused on their well-being and progress, your children may not be so reviled, nor you, for that matter.
I am accountable for my dog. If my dog does something against society, she can be put down, without so much as understanding the mitigating causes. So many parents of children lack the moral fortitude to be accountable. Yes, life is fucking difficult. Be accountable. Make your kids accountable. You are accountable to your kids.
I hold Ellie accountable for her bad behavior. I make sure that we try not to have repeated infractions, but after all, she is merely a dog. She communicates effectively. She has a heart full of love. I never tell her I hate her. It saddens me when I hear parents, especially the ill-equipped ones, scream how much they hate their kids and wish they never had kids. I am a product of that fucking toxic environment. Yes, it triggers me.
These people give far more credence to the argument FOR eugenics. If you are going to be a shitty parent or even a pet parent, maybe you should fulfill your threat. Give your kids or your pets up, so that someone far more equipped and loving can help your kid become a much better example from dire circumstances.
I do not have a statistical analysis of shitty parents. I do not need that. It’s pervasive in this world of ‘Easy Buttons.’ I try to be an example in this world of how I want to be treated, how I want society to progress, and it is depressing. My dog, my rules. She is still alive because someone did the right thing and gave her up because they knew they couldn’t give her the coaching, training, guidance, love, or best life possible.
I wouldn’t trade Ellie in for anything. The times I’ve been in the muck with my suicidal ideation, yes, she is part of the equation. If I am not around, she won’t be in good hands. I cannot trust this world to work with Ellie, just the way she is. I allow her to retain her wild-child animality. (Yes, Animality IS a word – just as person -> personality — animal ->animality.) I wouldn’t go try to lasso a wolf and wonder why it isn’t tame. I have shaped her world and her expectations. If I can do that, you can too, with your issues in life.
This article wasn’t supposed to lambaste shitty parents, but they are part of the reason why children just wander up to strange dogs and make fatal mistakes that cost a dog their life. WHY would that dog bite a child? It didn’t ask to be petted, nor was the pet parent asked, I bet. Did you gain any insight as to what the demeanor of the dog was? The same thing applies to ANY animal. If you walk up to a boa constrictor and fail to appreciate its nature, you are asking for trouble. ALWAYS respect people’s pets.
Always respect the power of a storm, be it a hurricane, a tornado, earthquake, volcanic eruption, or tsunami. As much as human nature wants to be in control of all things, we cannot ever harness this energy. The same goes for animals. The same goes for raising children. Respect the energy. Do you want latchkey kids? Cool, then expect society to raise your fucking kid. Do you want to chain a dog to a set of stairs outside? Cool, then expect a wild beast who CANNOT possibly trust anyone.
Stop harnessing that which you are not meant to harness. The tempestuous storms of life will destroy us on occasion. Our resolve is, those who survive, become stronger, and learn more coping and defensive mechanisms. It isn’t about learning defense only but learning proactive measures to offset some of the predicted damage. My Dog, My Rules apply to so many aspects of our lives. If someone is getting too close to you, and you feel some toxicity, you gruffly state, ‘Stay away.’
My goal is to empower people to do the right thing and affect the greatest amount of people no matter how short your leash in life may be. Lampooning lunacy is easy, so fucking easy. Admonishing bad habits away won’t happen in one blog article. It won’t happen in one lifetime. It will take many of each.
While this briefly dove into shitty parenting, humans, and pets, it’s a stark cry for attention to detail. My experiences with Ellie have impacted me so much that I understand myself better BECAUSE of her, not despite her. She IS my right-hand girl. I cannot imagine my life without her. I already miss her, even though she is by my side. (Well, not currently, she is taking time for herself on our big bed downstairs whilst I work away to buy her some continued happiness.)
Both she and her big brother impacted my heart so much, that they’ve been branded on my skin. Ellie is on my right forearm, as my right-hand girl. Her big brother is on my left, as he was first. Animals in my world equal a life worth living. Find YOUR life worth living, and make it fast. I grew up with my mother and her boyfriend (later husband – or evil step-father figure) who would hand feed all sorts of animals. To be around that kind of greatness AND to emanate from it, is amazing. Imagine hand-feeding black bears, raccoons, skunks, foxes, and little critters? All of them wild!
I come from a broken past, but I still come from greatness. An appreciation of how broken the world truly is, yet I can still see the greatness all around me. A perceived bad animal has a story. A misunderstood human has a story too. Compassion is all that is needed to GET that story. I have virtually no compassion for humans, but for an animal, I can appreciate their animosity. Nothing to me is more beautiful than the transparency of honesty when I see an animal growling, baring its teeth. You do not confuse that visceral show of emotion with anything other than what it is. A snarling wolf is one of the most beautiful things in my world. Seeing a lion acting the same, the intensity of their stare, so glorious!
We all have our triggers. We have something that happens in a split second that can send us spiraling down, and we have to fight like fucking hell to break out of that pattern. Bad parenting is the catalyst for this. Do you think I am wrong? Of course, you do. I am the way I am, triggers and all, due to negligence, abuses of power, and repeated traumas experienced. I wasn’t born like this, I was imprinted into this. Think of the television shows that show ways to rehab Pit Bulls, who came from shitty backgrounds. Shitty pet parents did that! Don’t be a shitty parent. Do the right thing. My Dog, My Rules. You either follow my rules with my dog, or you get the fuck out of my life.
As always, I welcome any constructive criticism, or complementary theories, analogies, anecdotes. I would love to hear if you find these edicts of challenge useful or utter horseshit. Similar to the 90’s when the catchphrase, ‘Be Kind, Rewind’ was hailed as marketing genius. I need to come up with one that invites you to either subscribe, via WordPress or via email, like posts, or even comment on posts. The immediate feedback is useful for anyone. Thank you very much for reading through all of this drivel. Be well, stay safe, AND stay sane!
Great write up man! Love the photos and the circling back…accountability is so spot on!
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Thanks for reading and commenting. I’ve hit my target demographic! Have a great day, stay safe, and stay sane!
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