Why I don’t own a dog

Isn’t Emma cute?

There are two kinds of people in this world; me and everyone else. Not sure why we always like to divide people into groups, but there you go. Another group – those who own dogs, and those who don’t. We don’t. I owned one dog yeeeaaars ago, and was a foster dog parent for a couple of years.

In a previous life, I thought it would be a nice thing to get my wife a dog for a gift. She wanted a Weimaraner; I got her a Saint Bernard. Found out a few things in a hurry. 1) They take up a LOT of room, wherever they are. 2) They slobber a lot, and when they shake their heads at the same time, it often reaches the ceiling. 3) “Picking up” after your dog is a (ahem) big job.

Years Later, while my daughter was attended college in northern California, I kept getting phone calls from her roommates about the damage her dog was doing to the house they were in and to their personal belongings. My daughter insisted it wasn’t her dog. When she moved back home, though, she brought “it’s not my dog” – a pit bull/retriever mix. Super-friendly with people, but that dog had jaws of steel. When my daughter moved out, we learned more about it. Up here on Puget Sound, lots of people use large, round rubber boat floats for tree swings. Zappa learned how to jump up, grab the bumper in her jaws, and swing back and forth.

One time while camping at a lake, I tossed a branchless tree about 10’ long, a good 4” at the butt into the lake like a missle. Zappa would swim out to it, grab it by the thick end, swim back, pull it up to the beach and drop it by my feet – again and again and again. A bystander stood amazed, and in broken english said “Dog have strong jaws!” Yep, we know.

She also needed a LOT of exercise everyday, even in the winter. I’d be out in the total dark, lit only by a yard light, throwing the frisbee for her, rain or snow, for an hour. She could leap six feet into the air to catch that frisbee.

The big lesson I learned was that owning a dog is much like having an infant. They need a lot of attention, they need to be fed often, they can make messes, their poop needs to be cleaned up, and they are not universally welcome. None of these fit well with our new life. We love to travel; most motels and our time-share don’t allow dogs.  Our house and yard aren’t particularly dog friendly – both are pretty small, and generally well kept. Dog hair and dogs digging … and barking, hmm, not so much our thing. You can say what you want about cats, but at least they don’t bark. And – just an observation, not a judgement – we often see where people’s lives end up revolving around the needs of their dogs, which can limit their ability to connect with us. Dogs give a lot of love, which is fabulous for many – but we would rather love on each other.

So, we often appreciate, and even love, others dogs. In fact, I told Terri we may get one – when we are too old to travel, the grandkids are all grown, and we are all alone. Until then, we won’t own a dog – or even a cat, for that matter.

My friend, David C, DOES own dogs, including one named Baxter. He has written a series of posts detailing his challenges with his dog. A few are included here, with his permission, and they are hilarious. And just another confirmation that maybe we just aren’t cut out to be doggie parents.

The Baxter Chronicles

Baxter the Wonder Dog aka the Dean of Duffus U. will give a lecture this weekend entitled “How to Draw Objects into your backyard. This is a must hear for all dogs who have their own air conditioned room with a doggie door that leads out to the backyard/bathroom. Somehow, like a magnet he draws objects into the yard that were never there before. Example: bricks, balls, skateboards, small sledge hammers, other dogs, dead animals,etc. Yesterday while I was in the backyard doing my weekly scanning of the minefield I discover a perfectly good sprinkler head. I checked, it was Not one of mine! Don’t you feel that your dog should have the opportunity to hone this skill? Remember Duffus University, BR 549.

This is the life I lead.

Wake Up America!!

Baxter

Well it once again is time for another tale of The Baxter Chronicles. Sadly, this may be the last chapter in the ongoing tale about Baxter the Wonder Dog, aka The Puke of Earl, Uggy Face, The Junk Yard Poodle, The Turd from Hell, and Fart Face. That’s right, I have finally decided to kill him. Apparently it is not enough that I have spent over $100 on dog beds. There are now two in the bedroom, two by the fireplace, and two in the Dog Cave. Fart face has decided that on sunny days he would like to lay on his bed in the back yard and bask in the sun. The only problem is that there is not a bed in the backyard. This is not a problem for the Puke of Earl. He just somehow pulls the huge dog bed through the tiny dog door and then puts on his sunglasses, fixes him a drink, and basks in the sun. Say a prayer for him, his days are numbered.

Welcome to another chapter of the Baxter Chronicles. I am convinced that JODI purchased Baxter the Wonder Dog from Quinlan Auto Salvage and Gift shop. They have a no refund policy. I can understand why.

So Sunday we went to PetSmart to get Baxter’s vaccination. JODI had to go with me and we took her car. He is no longer allowed in my truck. JODI had to go because, as you will remember from last year he dropped a load on my foot and an innocent young girl standing in line. So I no longer have to suffer the embarrassment that is Baxter the Wonder Dog aka Puke Face.

I made sure not to feed him in the morning so as to discourage puking. I also put two dog beds in the back of the car. He puked any way! On both beds. I am pretty sure he puked up the medicine that we paid $98 for.

If that is not enough Daisy got sick and we had to move her to the dog cave for the night. The dog cave has, by the way, it’s own A/C unit so they won’t be uncomfortable. Baxter doesn’t function without Daisy so we moved both dog beds to the dog cave for just one night. Baxter chewed his up.

This is the life I lead! I can feel the envy!

We’ve Lost Julie

I recently found out we lost Julie. Not that I knew her all that well. But – I have eight first cousins (my wife has 50+, but that’s her story). Four of those cousins are my mom’s sisters daughters. Sally, Julie, Laura and Cara. Sally is a year older than me, Julie was a year younger. Sally and Julie were on their own when their mom – Helen – died. We took the two younger ones into our household, and ended up legally adopting Cara. Too soon after that, my mom (Ramona) also passed from cancer. While we all grieved immensely, my heart hurt the most for Cara, losing two moms in just a few short years.

These events left an indelible mark on all of us. I escaped into marriage, drugs, and Washington, trying to leave the past behind (I’m still in Washington). Others faced their own demons, while some “acted out” by being as perfect as possible. But that bond, formed in that crucible called cancer, could not be broken. Years and life and distance would pull us apart, but that intangible bond remained. Julie had reconnected with Roger, a man she had loved deeply from years ago, and moved to north Idaho. Somehow, my daughter Kalise along with cousin Sally put together a family reunion a few years ago, with several activities being held at Julie and Rogers small ranch. It was great to reconnect to so many, and there was hope in the air.

Sometime later, everything went to hell. Two of her kids struggling with addiction. Heartbreak on the ranch. And – the Big C. Becky, my brother Dougs wife. Julie. My wife Terri. Cindy in remission, but with the occasional scare. Now, a couple of years later, Terri is cured, and Cindy and Becky are in remission. Julie put up one heck of a fight, but in the end, she slipped away from us.

I saw a photo of her a few weeks back, sitting around a campfire with family. She still had her “Julie” smile, which looked SO much like Mona Lisa’s to me. When she laughed, you knew by the unique combination of laugh and chuckle that it was her; her laugh was her signature. I wrote to her a couple of weeks ago, and shared that with her. I also confirmed that we have a hope beyond this earth, a Heavenly Father who loves us dearly, and that He would take good care of her.

We – overall – have been fortunate as a family. I’m the oldest of five, about to get smacked in the face by my 70th birthday. My “baby” sister is 60. The Whiting sisters range from 70 to the late 50’s. Our moms only made it to their mid-40’s.  I am so aware that many siblings in our age brackets have lost loved ones at much earlier ages. I guess it’s our turn now – we have lost Julie. We will see you on the other side.