Monday, May 08, 2006

New Wookiee in the Family




I called my mother the other day. "Are you ready to be a grandmother?" I asked her.

I heard a loud gasp on the other end. "You've got to be kidding."

"We just got a dog," I said.

"I could slap you!"

Oh, the fun of raising your mother's hopes then dashing them to pieces! That's just one of the many benefits of getting a dog. I'm sure there are other perks. Hopefully I'll experience them soon.

My wife has been wanting a dog for some time, but I've been telling her we couldn't afford the pet deposit and extra rent we would have to pay. What she didn't know was that I had been saving up to pay those fees. She's not in the best of health and is stuck at home by herself most of the time. I figured a little dog would make a good companion for her. So, I decided to surprise her a couple of weeks ago on our wedding anniversary.

At first, I thought I'd pretend to be noble and rescue a dog from an animal shelter. But I did some research on the Internet and found out that the local Humane Society requires potential "rescuers" to submit an application, which can take up to five days to be approved. That wouldn't be so bad, but they also require you to agree to a home visit. I figured it might be a little difficult to maintain the surprise with these people coming to my home. "Nevermind these people, Honey. Folks from the Humane Society make random visits to people's homes all the time. It doesn't mean anything. Just answer their questions and eventually they'll go away."

Besides that, I have to admit I find it just a little insulting that the Humane Society feels the need to evaluate my home to see if it is a suitable alternative to oh, say, death.

So I looked up a number of other "shelters" on the Internet. They all wanted exorbitant fees for "adopting" one of their dogs. I can see donating maybe $100 towards shots and fixing. But, I'm sorry, if you're charging me $250 for a dog, you're not a shelter, you're a kennel. Besides, these dogs are "used" models anyway!

I switched my online search from shelters to online classified ads. This wasn't working out either. I went to Craigslist.org. Didn't work out. I ran all kinds of queries on Google, Yahoo, Ask, and MSN. The results just linked to shelters I had already visited online. So, out of desperation, I fell back on a last resort. I asked someone. I turned to the co-workers who share my office and said, "Hey, you guys know anyone who is getting rid of a dog?"

"Yeah, you should ask Brigett. She works at an Animal Hospital on the weekends. She's always trying to find homes for animals."

Dang. This goes directly against my theory that the Internet will replace all Human interaction by 2008. Hopefully, this is just a fluke.

It turns out Brigett did indeed know of two puppies at the hospital that were being given away. They were half-Australian Shepherd and half-Jack Russell Terrier. Needless to say, they were a little odd-looking.

When I went to check them out, the vet who had bred them told me, "These dogs are a designer breed. Those are $1500 dogs, right there."

Yeah, I thought, that's why you're giving them away for free. I think it takes more than some crazy old guy declaring his puppies a new breed to value them at $1500. Of course, I'm not an expert.

I chose a puppy and the surprise went well (in case you were wondering). Since the paltry revenue I received from Master Yoda's Blog, including Adsense, Chitika, and the T-shirt store (by the way, thanks to everyone who bought something from there), made it possible to pay the pet deposit and get the dog, we decided a Star Wars name would be appropriate, so my wife named him Chewie.

What I didn't realize was the amount of work that goes into taking care of a dog that is kept inside the home. I knew there would be a lot of work, but I didn't know how much. I was raised in the country, so all of the dogs I had growing up were outside dogs. You don't have to do much for outside dogs when you're living in the country. Set out a food bowl for them and let them go. If you forget to feed them, they can always forage. No, but seriously, just make sure they have their shots and feed and water them every day, and they're fine. They might wander off into the surrounding woods or corn fields for a few hours, but they almost always come back. They don't even do most of their pooping in your yard. And they're happy and healthy.

Inside dogs are a different story, especially if the dog is a young puppy who isn't housebroken yet. Did you know that dogs don't even develop the muscle that enables them to "hold it" until they're 12 weeks old? We've been walking this dog every two hours just to make sure he doesn't mess in the apartment. Dangling him over the balcony was working just fine until one of our cranky neighbors downstairs complained. (Like it's my fault they don't have an umbrella over their patio).

Apparently, dogs eat everything that isn't chained down. Yesterday, while walking Chewie I actually stuck my fingers inside his mouth five different times to pull out some foreign (usually plastic) object. Sometimes, I'll pull something out of his mouth and don't even know what it is. I don't think I want to know either.

I read in a book at PetsMart (I'm too cheap to actually buy a book. But I've read several complete books while shopping at many fine retailers.), that you can train a dog not to eat odd things off the ground and to abstain from other undesirable behaviors by squirting him with a water pistol. So I've been thinking about getting one of those big Super Soakers.

Spllloooooooooooooooshhhhhhh!!!!!

"No. Bad dog."

That'll teach him not to jump up on people.

Then there's the embarrassment of trying to train him to do his business on command. I can't tell you how dignified I feel repeating the mantra, "Go potty! Go potty, Chewie!", while he's piddling on the lawn. What's worse, he's already picked up parasites, which showed up in his poo one day. So, ever since then, especially while we were medicating him, I've been closely examining his poop to see if it contains any worms. This is what I've been reduced to - standing in the yard looking at dog squeezins.

And don't even get me started on the cost of heartworm medication, which apparently all dogs in Florida should take regularly. Why the heck is it only available by perscription? It's for dogs! Are they afraid my dog is going to become a junkie, strung out on heartworm medicine? I mean, I'm certainly not going to take it. What are they afraid of?

And did I mention that I found out I may be allergic to dogs?

Another thing I learned is that dogs are apparently insane. When he first came to our home, Chewie was convinced that the reflection he saw in the glass oven door was another dog - one that needed to be barked at every five minutes. He's also decided that the Persian rug in the living room is his mortal enemy. There have been many life-and-death battles between Chewie and that rug in the past few days. The rug usually wins. This is probably because Chewie's usual strategy is to get under the rug, roll on his back, and attack the rug from underneath. And then there was the other day when I was laying on my back on the living room floor. Chewie came up, laid down beside me on his back, leaned his head over, and started licking my bald spot.

But, I love my dog. I mean, how can you not love someone who is so excited to see you come home he can hardly keep from peeing? Sure, my wife is usually happy to see me come home at night. But let me assure you, she is quite in control of her bodily functions as I walk through the door. It's just not the same. My point is, in spite of all the work and expense, my new little buddy is a lot of fun to have around, and I'm glad he's a part of my family now.

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13 Comments:

Blogger trinamick said...

I don't think I could handle a dog in the house. I prefer big dogs, so it wouldn't be much fun getting knocked out of bed onto the floor when the Rottweiler wants to stretch.

I have a cat, and that's annoying enough. I never knew an animal could backtalk so much.

4:09 PM  
Blogger A Army Of (Cl)One said...

I chose to have children. No allegeries to them so far, but they are messier than a dog and can't be trained as well. Maybe in my next life...

4:31 PM  
Blogger Nic said...

Awwww. How CUTE! I'm so glad that you've updated! I've missed your humor and your writing, even though it is a "little" different from Master Yoda.

Yeah, pets take some getting used to. We have a dog and a cat who fight friendly all the time and though the cat is full grown weighing in at only 7 pounds (very small cat) and the dog is a good 10 pounds heavier, the cat frequently comes out on top. They they just lie there next to each other being very quiet and friendly and actually very cute...until the dog decides he's ready for another round of fighting.

Good luck with Chewie! I look forward to reading more advetures of the little guy in the future! And Happy Anniversary!!! :)

4:32 PM  
Blogger Jabafatboy said...

We have 5 cats inside ! Most of them are larger than your dog.

Like AOC , I to have children, and somtimes when I come home they get so excited they .... well you know !

7:28 PM  
Blogger Bill said...

Happy Anniversary!!! :)
Hey, thanks Nic!

Jabafatboy, you are so nuts.

8:36 PM  
Blogger Kristi said...

Happy belated anniversary! What a great surprise for your wife. :) Dogs and cats are always preferable over children IMO. ;) We have two kitties - one obnoxiously loud, the other demands attention constantly, but I love 'em both dearly.

12:45 PM  
Blogger Jon the Intergalactic Gladiator said...

great story. We aimed for something older than a puppy when we got Shamrock just because we didn't want to train one.

On top of that, my 4-year-old inists that saying "bad dog" isn't nice, so we're now saying "bad choices" to her.

Ah, parenting and dog owning

4:46 PM  
Blogger Shannon said...

"...in spite of all the work and expense, my new little buddy is a lot of fun to have around, and I'm glad he's a part of my family now"

Yep, just like having a child. Work, expense, sleep deprivation, cleaning up bodily secretions... but ultimately fun to have around.

Congrats on your new family member.

7:13 AM  
Blogger Noel of Neptonian said...

That dog is really cute. How old is it.

I still think you should have rescued a dog from the shelter. Just think of the millions of dogs that are put down because someone didn't want it any more. You could have rescued one. True it would have ruined the suprise for your wife.

Also the home inspection is a GREAT thing. I wish the ones around here did. They do it mainly to see how potential owners live. They don't want to adopt out a dog to a horder, or someone who lives in a junk heap. Some people adopt out dogs keep them for a couple months and then ditch them on some back country road. Then go back and do it all over again. My Moms neighbor did this several times. Very sad to see, and all because they don't do inspections and they don't care who abopts out their dogs. Makes me mad.... so I'm happy they do where you live.

Also a 'used' dog is sometimes better then a puppy.

Puppies you have to train, housebreak, get fixed, get all the shots, ect. When you get a 'used' dog from a shelter most of this is done for you before you get it.

And they wouldn't have worms, if they did they would give you the medication. Jude had problems with his ear when I got him, and they gave me his meds for no extra cost.

And another thing I hope you think about. Getting him trained. Done properly he won't chew and he will be a very good dog. Also both Aussies (Australian Shepherd) and Jack Russells are very energetic dogs. He may even do good with some agility training.

And YES dogs are very fun to have around and are expensive. I have two now so I know what you mean.

But I would never give either of them up for the life of me. And I hope I will never have to either, just because I have a Pit Bull and they are getting band country wide. So far it hasn't reaches where I live yet.

But anyway.... I'm happy you got the little guy and you keep us posted.

2:48 AM  
Blogger Master Yoda said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12:47 PM  
Blogger Bill said...

Noel,

I agree with you about adopting dogs from genuine shelters - it is the best thing to do. It just didn't work out for me personally. (Though I still think requiring a home visit is extreme.)

...and the crack about 'used' dogs was really just a joke. My original plan was to get a dog that was a little older than Chewie, hopefully one that was already housebroken. But again, it didn't work out.

He is about 15 weeks old now.

12:57 PM  
Blogger Erifia Apoc said...

It sounds like something I would have done, "You're a grandmother."
Clever and Cruel, as most of the funniest jokes are.

8:54 PM  
Anonymous "Grandma" said...

It's only funny if you're not the "grandmother"!

3:39 PM  

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