Friday, May 18, 2012

And Then There Were Two

In my last post, we established that years ago, in order to provide Dad with some companionship (and apparently to give Dad a chance to carry on conversations in which he is always right) Mom got him a dog.

We've established that this dog and I did not immediately become best friends. True, P.B. mellowed over the years. Not much, but enough that we can now attribute her insane barking and need to be within three inches of my face at all times to what I like to believe is her dementia rather than puppy ignorance. (Seriously, how does a dog sense the person who dislikes them most and then make it a personal mission to permanently attach themselves like an insane groupie to that person's side? Is it just to annoy me? Is it that she hopes that proximity will earn her my affection? Nah, gotta be the thing where she does it just to annoy me.)

Dad has become even more deeply attached to this dog, which honestly, we did not believe was even possible. I personally believe the only thing that has pulled him through a few of his health scares is his belief that we won't love P.B. enough in his absence, and she will be sad, so he'd better stick around.

In my defense, I'm not the only one who feels this way. I sense huge therapy bills in the future for certain nieces and nephews of mine who may never recover from being greeted and herded by an animal larger than they are, which barks at decibels the kids shouldn't be hearing until they discover whatever horrifying music arrives to define their teen years. This doesn't include Son, of course. Oh no. He loves to go roughhouse with P.B. And then pass out from the handful of Benadryl he needs if he spends more than a few minutes with her.

Still, everyone had kind of settled into a resigned acceptance. Mom has Dad. Dad has a dog. We have Mom and Dad. Breaking them up would be like breaking up the Beatles and nobody wants to be the Yoko Ono of the family.

And then, P.B. started getting sick. Super sick. As in, "Get her affairs in order, say your goodbyes" kind of sick.

Mom was more torn than I have ever seen her. Obviously she couldn't make P.B. live forever, she admitted before looking up hopefully, and asking "Can I?" No, Mom. Even you can't bestow immortality on a dog, she was told.

And so a plan a formed. Let's get Dad another dog. Before anything happens to P.B. we'll get him attached to a new dog and that way when P.B. eventually, uh, departs and goes off to the big farm to chase real sheep and be very, very happy, Dad will survive the loss because he still has something to love and care for. You know, in addition to his wife and children. Ahem. (Dad, if you're reading this, I swear, I'm not hoping for that day to come. And I'm certainly not trying to hasten that day's arrival. Honest. Because that would be wrong.)

Well, the only way Mom could put this plan in motion was to tell Dad he could choose the new dog. And I'm pretty sure that's when things went irrevocably awry. She was thinking something along the lines of a West Highland White Terrier. You know. Something she could fit in her purse.

She spent hours on-line researching dogs and different breeds and how to train them and what kind of dogs would be less likely to eat her grandchildren. And then, after considerable discussion, I was asked to drive them one day to pick up their new dog. Their new Shetland Sheepdog puppy. Oh that's right. You heard me. Now they're up to TWO of these hounds.

And that number could stay at two for awhile, because guess what? P.B. recovered.

Mom works full-time. And Dad doesn't quite get the how-to-train-the-dogs-so-people-don't-hate them thing. Which means the whole herding, barking, shedding circus fun has been doubled! Although we've discovered these dogs are almost entirely all bark and not much bite. P.B. doesn't really bite; she just fakes it. But L.C. has been known to get a bit carried away with her attempt at appearing as a fierce, scary, threatening-in-some-way dog.

Because she's totally not. One windy day, the back door blew open and a small dog, probably about 10 pounds, if that, wandered into the house. Instant mayhem. I hear banshee-like screeching and snarling and, most disturbingly, Dad yelling, "Oh no! Oh no!" Knowing there was no way I'd get out of there with all limbs intact, and equally certain that I'd forever be "The Bad Daughter Who Let Dad Get Eaten By Dogs" if I did try to escape through the front door, I headed for the front door. Then, remembering that the front door is a bit difficult to open, and thus deciding I could probably be brave enough to face down whatever was going on in the kitchen, I headed back.

And that's where I found Dad and both dogs huddled, and trembling in the corner (although Dad was probably trembling more out of sympathy for his dogs than anything, oh, and I'm sure he was also protecting them. Or something.) while the little, tiny, intruder yapped at them. I shooed the pup out of the house and boy, the second that door was securely closed did my parents' dogs ever spring into protective action. I know I sleep more soundly at night knowing my parents have two such protective dogs. Well, at least the barking should wake them in time.

Some plans are good. Some plans, well, aren't. Hopefully we learn from the not-so-great plans. Because Dad's kind of getting along in years. His health is not what it once was. And there is no way I'm bringing in a younger, healthier man for Mom, so she won't be so sad when Dad, uh, joins his dogs on the big farm. 

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Hound of Hell

This was actually written a few years ago. The saga continues. Part 2 Coming up.

Several years ago, Mom decided to get Dad a dog. He was home alone all day and she thought a nice little dog might give Dad some companionship. So off they went to the pet store, returning with a little dog whom they named "Little Dog." (And my brothers and I all breathed sighs of relief that we weren't saddled with names like "Baby Boy" or "Baby Girl".)

Sadly, not long after, Mom and Dad learned that Little Dog had come from a puppy mill and had health problems that could not be resolved and they had to have the dog euthanized. Dad was devastated but Mom promised he could pick out a new dog. She had something in mind like a terrier or a shitzu. Something small, which she'd no doubt dub "Even Littler Dog". Dad, however, fell in love immediately with a Shetland Sheepdog. As a puppy this dog was about the size Mom had hoped to have in the first place and though she had her doubts, in the end, Mom took pity on Dad who was still mourning the loss of Little Dog and they adopted the sheepdog.

They call the new creature P.B. (Which is not her full name, but even for that much I do have to give them points for creativity.) I call her "Patricia" mostly or "Patty" because calling someone by the wrong name is considered an insult in most cultures and I'm hoping this is something which holds true in dog culture as well. We have a love/hate relationship. She loves to do things that make me hate her. I'm certain it's deliberate, though Mom swears I'm just being mean. And I'm pretty sure P.B. laughs at me as soon as Mom leaves the room. I tend to view P.B. as the the daughter my parents have always loved best. Seriously, they refer to her as my sister.  And I am responding in what I recognize is an unkind and juvenile manner. I have tried to be nicer because I paid attention to that last lecture about how not loving their dog is the same as insulting one of their children. (And really, one would think that having their children insult each other is something they'd be used to by now, but moving on...) Also, my brothers have never pounced on me, slobbered on me (well not recently) shed their hair all over me when I'm thoughtless enough to wear black. Nor do they bark constantly for no apparent reason.

 This is a sheepdog who believes herself to be, and is in fact treated as a pampered lapdog. This presents a few complications. The herding thing, for example. She was bred to herd. She would have been superb at this. I have begged my parents to buy a few sheep for P.B. to chase, but perhaps it's better they don't. Dad would likely insist on keeping those inside as well.

 No one in that house is allowed to stand without P.B. hurling herself against their legs and going into complete hysteria until the person either takes a seat or somehow escapes the house. (Note: Mom has been working with P.B. and around Mom, the dog behaves. Mom's the disciplinarian. Dad's the one who breaks the rules, gives unwarranted, unlimited treats and lets the dog do whatever she wants. It's pretty much the way they raised us.)

There aren't words to adequately describe how much Dad loves this beast. It is a deep and devoted-beyond-reason-to-the-point-of-utter-insanity kind of love. Huh. Maybe there are words.

But basically, the dog is loud. And she sheds. And there's the whole herding thing. Plus? She's HUGE. When she sits on my little mother's lap, Mom nearly disappears.

And so, while my mother is also deeply devoted to the dog, she still really wants "a little dog," which of course she won't be able to have as long as P.B. is around because P.B. would either herd it to death or eat it. But a couple of weeks ago we had the following conversation about a TV program she'd watched:

Mom: It was so cool! They're making these new dogs and they aren't like all those scrawny little dogs that are nothing but hair and feel all skeletal when you pick them up. These are strong and sturdy little dogs.

Me: They're making dogs? Like in a factory? On an assembly line?

Mom: Actually that's a puppy mill and puppy mills are horrible. Do you remember Little Dog? DO YOU? You know what I mean. They're cross-breeding these dogs and anyway they're really cute and really sturdy because they make them out of real dogs!

Me: "They make them out of real dogs." What exactly are the real dogs made out of?

Mom: Um...meat!

Me: Meat. So can we start calling the dog "Meat Patty"?

Mom: You'd better not let your father hear you say that.

Fine. I won't let my dad hear me. But I saw the longing on my mother's face as she talked about how one day, after P.B.'s gone, she wants to get a small, sturdy dog.

I'm not making accusations here, but the next time we go to their house for dinner, I'm only eating salad.

Dusting off the Blog

If this blog were my child, I'm quite certain social workers of some kind would have shown up, noted the obvious neglect and the blog would be taken from me and put into a foster care blog service. It would possibly be mistreated there. Need therapy. Maybe get into drugs. (Not that all foster care families are like this. I'm sure most are wonderful, caring and loving. I'm just aware of a few that, well, aren't. And I know nothing whatsoever about blog foster care, other than it doesn't appear to care about what happens HERE.)

Let's see. Just a bit of catching up to do. Son and I now live in a very tiny apartment. We're very close. We kind of have to be unless one of us goes out on the balcony. (And by balcony I mean "In any other place it would be called a window ledge.")

Don't misunderstand, we're very happy here. And it's great preparation for the day he moves out into his own little apartment. (And probably even more similar to the current situation because I'm afraid I'm going to be one of those mothers who wraps her arms around the boy's knees and cries, "Why are you leaving me?") Either that or he'll be one of those guys who lives with his mother until he's 40 and neighborhood mothers warn their children not to talk to him.) I'm very good to him and particularly to his future wife this way. I set the bar really low with cooking and stuff, so she'll never have to be intimidated by me. So Son's Future Wife? You. Are. WELCOME.

I've been on my own for two years now. I'm starting to get the hang of being an adult. I guess it had to happen some day. It's quite impressive, the progress I've made. I've even figured out how to use a hammer and kill spiders. And it's surprising how often those activities happen simultaneously.

 I know now that an allen wrench isn't a wrench we once borrowed from Allen and forgot to return. I've even used one to help Mom assemble a table. (It was a proud, proud moment for us, when we got that thing put together.)  Don't ask how I've made it this far in life without knowing the basics. I don't really know, but apparently it was pretty easy. I didn't even notice that I was a basically helpless human being if left to my own devices. Well, not anymore, baby! I'm not there yet, but I'm getting there. I hope.


Life has been interesting. And funny. And sad. And depressing. And hopeful. Pick an adjective; it probably applies here.

Most of it, I can't write about on the blog. Although, those who know the story encourage me to write a book. This includes my therapist. Because you just can't make this stuff up. And when your therapist's jaw hits the floor when she hears what's happened to you, you can be pretty sure this kind of thing doesn't happen to this degree all that often. So I've been working on that, which is why the blog's been so sadly neglected.

Plus I've had to figure out a different way to type. Why? Well, if you know me at all, you'll realize I've probably injured myself again. And by golly, you'll be right! The doctor's report says, "Accidentally stabbed herself in the hand with a steak knife." Now doesn't that sound interesting. And typical. For me, I mean. And I'm so glad he included the word "accidentally" because I'm really not the type to go around stabbing myself deliberately. Also, just one correction, it was a carving knife. I don't think I'll be volunteering to carve next time we have turkey. (Hello? This is why we have ham for Easter. Pre-sliced. It is also why we don't allow me to handle sharp objects.)

Apparently, there is a point at which one should stop the cutting of the turkey, and personally, I'd appreciate it if the turkey came pre-marked with little dotted lines so I'll know exactly where to cut. And where not to.

The cut itself? Tiny. Very tiny. As in, if anyone saw it, I'd be called out immediately on what a wimp I am. And if I did get called out? Then I'd have to come back with my doctor's report showing that, though the cut appears tiny on the outside, on the inside there's a fair bit of damage. I cut the digital nerve, and probably a tendon and this is why I'm being such a drama queen over this miniscule little cut.  And also because I'm just kind of a drama queen anyway. Though, it should be noted, I did NOT cry. See? Progress. It would also explain why I can no longer feel or move very well the 2nd and 3rd fingers of my right hand, so if I should pass you and that middle finger seems to be saluting you, I promise, it's probably not. Unless you cut me off in traffic, and even then still probably not but I may be thinking bad words, just so you know.

The other problem they found is that the ulnar nerve is having problems and surgery is going to be required for that as well. This takes out the 4th and 5th fingers, which have kind of been slacking off for awhile now, so I wasn't too worried about that until the specialist said, "irreversible damage if you wait much longer." (By chance are doctors like mechanics who tell you the car will explode unless you have some exorbitantly expensive and totally unnecessary repair work done?) So I'm now down to a thumb on the right hand. But this still puts me way ahead of creatures like dogs and rabbits and, um, fish. You know. Things without opposable thumbs. Plus I have a whole other hand that works, and YAY, I just happen to be left-handed. So see? I am a lucky, lucky, if extremely, wimpy girl.

Plus, this gives me, in a very small way, the chance to experience the world of someone I love who only has the use of one hand. He can do anything. Including teaching me how to type with one hand. Bonus! New skill!

So, yeah. Life's been a funny, awful, ironic, horrible, fantastic, thing for awhile now, but I'm better than fine and I seem to have more spare time to write now. So perhaps the Internet Social Workers won't have to take my blog away after all.