I Hate My Dog: Come To Your Senses

Photo by Lukas Ridge.

Welcome to ‘I Hate My Dog’, a semi-regular series about the struggles of a first-time dog owner just trying his best for his new dog, Buttercup.

Getting a dog changes everything. And I mean everything. Once you bring the little ball of energy into your home, your life is changed forever.

And I’m not just talking about the financial considerations or the way you are forced to rearrange the furniture. Having a dog goes beyond that. Even if you have a sitter (a nightmare of its own that I will discuss at a later date), dogs are a 24/7 concern. From the moment you wake up to the moment you go to sleep, and even during the night, this four-legged presence will permanently alter what you once called your “life.”

You think to yourself, “it won’t be that big a deal.” But it is. It is a huge deal. It changes the very fiber of your being. And what’s worse, there’s no escaping it, short of being struck blind, deaf, and dumb, and even then, you’d feel the dog bumping into your legs when you’re just trying to get a friggin’ pot from the kitchen cabinet, gaw-dammit!

I thought I knew what I was getting into when my wife and I picked up Buttercup. I was naive. You don’t have to be. I’m here to help.

There are five senses that we humans experience, and dogs rock every single one.

I Hate My Dog: Come to Your Senses

Sight

As I alluded to above, the first way a dog starts to affect your life is visual. Hopefully, before you buy the beast, you set aside space for them. My wife and I did and for weeks I’d stare at this empty space in the corner and wonder if that was enough room for my new best friend.

I needn’t have worried. That corner is now filled with a kennel, a bucket full of toys she has either devoured or ignored, and an oscillating fan (“so she doesn’t get too hot,” my wife beams).

But that’s just the stuff at her two-foot-tall level. Tilt your head up, and you will find the shelf we drilled into the wall, complete with her harnesses, leashes, poo-bags, nail-clippers, and a hat for when it gets too sunny. Next to that, you’ll find a framed Wassily Kandinsky painting, so she doesn’t lose her appreciation for the finer things.

That’s just one corner, and it doesn’t stop there. Buttercup is a messy girl who doesn’t take care of her things. So the floor is littered with squeaky tennis balls and tug toys. The innards of her stuffed animals lay strewn across the carpet like a little cotton crime scene.

And that’s before you get to the dog itself, who, sure as you are breathing, is everywhere you are, all the time. Buttercup is a shelter dog with an unfortunate past, and as a result, has become increasingly protective of the only souls that have cared for her. She needs to be near you all the time. I don’t hold that against her. Dogs are pack animals after all, and if you are expecting them to change their nature, you might as well ask a leopard to change its spots.

But it can get pretty annoying when you’re trying to take a shower and she leaps in only to start biting at the water a little too close for comfort (true story).

And if you close the door to get a little peace and quiet, she starts to whine.

Hearing

If dog whining melts your heart, you might be the perfect person to adopt a dog, but if it causes you to bend to its will, you are a chump.

I know its hard when its bedtime and you put your four-legged friend in a kennel for the night, only to hear whimpering, whining, and pawing at the kennel bars. Your heart aches for this little being you swore to protect. You say to yourself “let’s let her sleep in the bed, poor thing.”

Do NOT give in! This is a human weakness and you must not succumb or you will wind up with a pee-soaked mattress.

While whimpering may be the most heart-wrenching of the doggie noises, it is far from the most prevalent. That title belongs to breathing.

Dogs don’t have sweat glands, so they regulate their temperature by panting. My god, the panting. My whole life has become that scene in The Simpsons where Ned wants to kill Homer for breathing too loud.

“Heh. Heh. Heh. Heh. Heh. Heh. Heh. Heh. Heh. Heh. Heh. Heh. Heh. Heh. Heh. Heh. Heh. Heh. Heh. Heh. Heh. Heh. Heh. Heh.”

– Buttercup, all the time.

You could set your watch to the way this dog breaths. I’ve seen people in clubs dance to such rhythm. Well, I haven’t actually seen a club. I have a dog, remember? The point is, it never stops.

This is a real catch-22. On the one hand, I want my little girl to go on living (most of the time), but on the other hand, would it kill her to breathe through her nose? Probably.

Having a dog is a lot like having a toddler. The only thing worse than when they’re making a racket is when they’re not making any noise at all. You’ll find yourself suddenly lunging over the couch to make sure they’re not dead, only to find that they’re just napping. But too late. Your sudden, irrational movement has startled them and now they’re amped up and ready to play.

The cycle continues.

Touch

When Crystal and I decided to adopt a dog, I looked around the apartment and imagined how life would be different. But here’s the thing about imagining things, it is almost entirely visual. In the same way, you can’t imagine a noise too loud, you can’t really imagine stickiness or wetness, all of which you will receive in a manner surpassing expectations.

Our once pristine white walls are covered in dark pawprints, where the little maniac parkoured off the wall, excited for her morning breakfast. But that’s nothing compared to your arms and legs. Buttercup has no sense of personal space. Invading your bubble is her game of choice, and if you’re eating pizza on the couch, consider your lap filled. Buttercup thrills in leaping on and climbing over my body, leaving little paw-sized bruises up and down my arms and legs. And don’t forget scratches and bites. You’re going to get more than your fair share of those, especially if you play rough with her. And while I’m on the topic…

Drool. Watch out for the drool.

… I’m just kidding. There is no avoiding the drool. Your best bet is to play in a hazmat suit because you will find drool everywhere. I’ve found it on the ceiling after a particularly vigorous game of tug of war.

Buttercup is seemingly allergic to everything ever made, which results in many, many, many doggie sneezies right in the face. It really does feel the way 4-D movies portray it. A spritz of doggie snot.

Wearing socks becomes a soggy memory. If you take her out for a good walkie and let her drink from a full bowl of cold, clear water that you were nice enough to provide, be prepared for half of it to wind up on the floor, or clinging to her jowls in the form of slobbery seepage. And then she licks you. Hands, toes, neck, lips. It’s all fair game. She’s gonna lick you. Hopefully, before she licks her bum.

And of course, the poo and the pee. You are a grown man or woman. You’ve been taking care of your own bodily functions for years. It has conceivably been decades since you’ve touched another being’s fecal matter. Now, it is a daily occurrence.

In high school, I briefly interned at a hospital where I worked as a desk manager, but from time to time, I’d be tasked with carrying a gallon’s worth of fresh patient urine to another department a mile away. As you shuffle down the cold hallways, you have no choice but to dwell on the disturbingly warm, yellow jar in your hands. “Do not cling to it for warmth”, you think. Now, picking up steaming dumps is my job. Only I don’t get paid. Every frigid autumn morning, I have the privilege of begging my dog to poop so I can pick it up, tie it off, and look for a neighbor’s trash can to dump it. I know, I’m awful. But at least I’m not one of those people who leave their dog’s poo on the ground. Those people can get hit by a bus.

And finally, there’s the hair. Unless you’ve cleverly thought ahead and gotten a dog with alopecia, you’re going to wind up with some hair. Dogs shed, a lot. There’s no getting around this, and what’s worse, it never ends. Serious consideration for a dog’s shedding should be taken before adopting. My wife and I had many discussions about the type of dog we were interested in adopting. “But that breed sheds a lot” was a frequent and powerful veto.

Buttercup is a half-bulldog/half-pitbull mix and in that regard, we are fortunate. Buttercup does not shed. Much.

But every dog sheds, and you’re going to find it on every surface. Or rather, it will find you. And it will definitely seek you out like some sort of black t-shirt targeting missile.

Les cheveux c’est moi.

Smell

This is the most often commented upon phenomenon with dogs.

The wet dog smell.

Truth be told, it’s not that bad. While I detest dog smell, I have grown accustomed to it. My dog’s scent is to me what Eliza Doolittle’s face was to Prof. Higgins in My Fair Lady.

What I will never grow accustomed to is her farts. And shoot me dead if I ever do.

Buttercup is a decent dog, but in the fart department, she scores an absolute F. Buttercup is a panic-farter which is exactly what it sounds like. When we first brought her home, it was as if someone threw a peeing, shedding, fart grenade into our apartment. Now she has calmed down and the gas has been reduced to a minimum. But if Mike, the mailman comes by with our box of HelloFresh, it begins anew. You can sometimes hear it eeking out as she scampers down the hall, but as the old proverb goes, the silent type is the most deadly.

Part of this comes down to diet, which is one big scoop of dry food, topped with one scoop of wet, but if I let my wife make breakfast, Buttercup gets nearly two scoops and wet food from the can. She scarfs it down in seconds and passes it just as quickly.

I’ve thought of shoving a Glade Plugin up her rear but the humane society would have my head.

Taste

This one is a little smaller than all the rest. Unless you’re the kind of person who eats dogs, you’re probably not likely to taste your pup unless he or she licks your mouth (not uncommon in my household). Although, I must confess that once when Buttercup bit my leg, I got down on her level and bit hers. I looked at her intently. “How do you like it?” She seemed disturbed but unshaken.

My biggest piece of advice? Wash your hands before eating. Although, if you want just a hint of bacon flavor without any of that pesky sodium, you can always rub your hands with dog treats before a meal.

A Sense-ual Experience

There’s really nothing you can do about your dog. You’ve let them into your home, and they are living breathing creatures. We built homes to keep weather and animals out! But through some sly loophole, dogs have found their way in.

I’m not here to offer you solutions. I’ve only had Buttercup for a number of weeks. I only offer you warnings.

Beware.

Beware the farts, the drool, the warm bags of poo, the nibbles and scratches, the barks and whines, and beware the hair. For these things are your future should you bring this beast into your home!

Gosh, she’s cute when she sneezes though.

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