Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Could Have Been Luckier


We had a dog.  Lasted about five months.  I guess that's better than our last dog, who lasted about 24 hours.

The little guy's name was (and still is) Lucky, an unfortunate moniker as it was just a little too similar to my son's name and thus ripe for inevitable confusion.  I rolled with it - it was in theory my son's dog and so of course he could name it whatever he wanted.

As things worked out the dog was pretty much mine.  I was the one who walked him twice a day, fed him most of the time, cleaned the patio area that he was confined to for 23 hours a day.  My son turned out to like the idea of the dog more than the actual work of the dog, despite his promises to get more involved with the little guy whenever it was threatened that he might be leaving soon.

The threat of leaving the house pretty much hung over Lucky since before he even arrived here.  I for one was not pleased at the sudden reality of a puppy being thrust upon us without warning - which is what happened when my sister-in-law came home from work with him one day and gave him to my son.  I was woken up one day with this news and I did not take it well.  I lobbied hard for him to be taken back to his mother, he had been weaned (ie taken away) too early and apparently was just a little pea of a thing when he arrived.  My wife didn't think he'd make it.  He made it, but he was not returned to his mother as I was told his mother had been hit by a car.  I would have preferred a grown shelter dog, but despite my best efforts we ended up with the puppy.

Dog owners fall into two schools: the inside dog school (me) and the outside dog school (my wife).  Outside dogs are fine, providing they have space to run around and preferably another dog to keep them company.  At our house, the only real outside option is the patio, which is only about 15 feet on a side.  This was okay for a while, but Lucky got bigger.  Quite a bit bigger - we though he'd be a smallish medium dog, but he ended up being more of a large medium/small large type dog.  He got really strong - taking him for a walk was more like him dragging me or me dragging him from one place to another, plus he had the unfortunate habit of slingshotting to the end of his leash when he got excited, which was often.

But I liked the little guy.  Sure, I resented somewhat that I had to get up early on my only day off to feed him, and I felt really bad for him when he would whine for the attention that he deserved but wasn't getting, and I hated it when he started barking for no reason. But I like dogs.  I've never really been a dog owner per se, but I've had dogs come into my life like Lucky did, and I've been nice to them, and they've been nice to me.  I'm happy to know that I helped Lucky get a good start: vaccines, walks, decent food.

Lucky's real doom was that he smelled.  He urinated and defecated in his area, although much less recently than when he first arrived, and he wasn't bathed as often as he could have been, as that was supposed to be my son's duty.  His patio was just off my wife's room, and my wife hates stench.  She also has the best/most sensitive sense of smell of anyone I've ever met.  Lucky also had a charming habit of jumping up and pulling the wash off the clotheslines that shared the patio with him.  No longer willing to accommodate him in the patio area, my wife wanted to confine him to an even smaller space, which I use as a shop.  I put my foot down and said no way.  My son's preference for YouTube videos over spending time with the dog definitely lessened my desire to fight on Lucky's behalf.

Things would have worked out differently if he could have stayed in the house with us at least part of the time.  It would have worked out differently if he was older and calmer and I could have taken him to the store with me during the day.  And obviously, if my son had been more interested and engaged that would have changed the calculus.  I have to keep reminding myself that I didn't want the dog in the first place.

So my wife lobbied hard until her sister agreed to come and take Lucky back to her house, which is what finally happened today.  I would like to feel better about it, to think that he's off to a better life, but the reality is that he almost certainly is not.  He will be confined to another concrete area, and I'm sure nobody will be taking him for walks anymore.  There is an area for him to run around in, with grass and trees and stuff, but my guess is he'll rarely be able to take advantage of it.  And there's the unfortunate reality that dogs don't tend to last long out with my wife's family, they either disappear or die before their time.

Now it's the next morning and I am freed of my obligation to walk the dog and wash away his poop residue.  The patio that I built gates for and raised clothes lines in sits empty.  I can take the chicken wire off my potted plants now that there's nobody to dig in them anymore.  No more plaintive whining.  I'll be happy about that, eventually.

If there's a next time, and a next dog, it will be on my terms.  The dog will live in the house.  Miss you little Lucky.