Thursday, July 21, 2011

Dexter in Seattle: a series of unfortunate events

I knew this whole "life change" thing would be difficult. I knew we'd
face challenges and have some bumps in the road. What I didn't expect
was that my dog would face more disasters than anyone in the family.
Since we left Idaho in March, a dark cloud of "fail" has hung over the
dog and it seems to get worse by the week.

It shouldn't be surprising, really. Dexter has been a pain in our
asses since the moment he came into our lives and promptly relieved
himself on Mr. W's new pool table. Between the separation anxiety,
being born with one undescended testicle which makes neutering a bitch and not ever being properly trained (we were too young to be responsible for a dog and we know that NOW THAT IT'S TOO LATE), he has single-handedly caused more monetary and emotional damage in our lives than one pet ever should. He finally calmed down around the age of, oh, seven, and we had a nice
drama-free year. Then we decided to move.

I expected some turmoil. The dog had never lived in an
apartment in his life and he wasn’t used to sharing a space with strangers. He's also very lazy and never really barked unless he thought strangers were invading us, so we assumed he'd do all right once he got over the initial excitement of seeing so many people. And at first, it almost seemed like everything would be ok. We had the luxury of being at home together with him for a few weeks getting him used to the new life. Once he got over the initial stage fright of relieving himself on a leash, he saw the world as his toilet and he delighted in squatting down in the middle of crosswalks and other inappropriate places. A week after we moved in, we left him alone to go to an event at an art gallery and miraculously, all was well. We thought we'd worried for nothing. And then he started to regress on catastrophic levels.

It started with tearing up the front door to our apartment. He would do it at random, foaming at the mouth so much that the carpet and walls would be soaked and parts of the door would be reduced to a giant splinter. Duct tape helped, but it was no match for his talons. We read our "Boxers for Dummies" book and tried all the suggestions to no avail. Sometimes we'd leave for work and he'd be an angel. Sometimes we'd come home to utter destruction. We finally figured out he'd have meltdowns when we deviated from our routine in any way. We refuse to be a prisoner to an 8-year-old diva boxer, so we are already saving up for the damage we'll have to pay for when we move out. Awesome.

Then the barking and eating off the counters started. Dexter used to bark only when the doorbell rang. We'd mess with him and get him all riled up, thinking it was funny. Now he barks repeatedly whenever we come home and it's just not funny anymore. It's a shrill, excited, happy "I thought you were going to
leave me" bark, but it's still loud and not apartment-appropriate.

And suddenly, no carbs are safe left out where the dog can reach them. During a recent visit, my parents brought bagels which we left on the counter in a spot that previously would've remained untouched. We came home to an empty bag and a very bloated dog. This has happened several more times and he has also picked up the habit of snooping through our guests' luggage like a deranged creeper. We are horrified but unsure how to proceed. I mean, he's almost nine. He knows the rules. He's just being an asshole.

Then, of course, there was the matter of his sudden extreme allergies. The entire first week of my new job, I was up practically all night listening to Dexter run from room to room, sneezing and hacking and scratching and acting miserable. It was
miserable for me, too. One morning and 3 am, I finally screamed out that the reason I do not yet have a baby is because I can't handle getting no sleep AND having a new job.

In an ill-timed effort to meet Dexter's nutritional needs, Mr. W had just switched his food to a senior formula that caused severe gastrointestinal issues. If I wasn't being woken up by sneezing, I was being woken up by loud dog farts. Mr. W said if we kept him on the same formula, we'd run out of "doggie bags" quickly. We switched him back to his old food and got him some Benadryl. That seemed, momentarily, to quiet the beast. So all we had to worry about was him destroying our apartment and eating our bread. And barking. Fantastic.

Even though he'd had a bath recently, Dexter had felt a little grimy for a couple of days. He was itchy again, so we assumed his allergies were back and perhaps he'd developed some kind of skin issue. Imagine my thoughts when I received a text from Mr. W yesterday afternoon that read, "Bad news. I found bugs on Dex." He claimed they weren't fleas or ticks, but I went straight to Google and was
informed that a flea infestation was the most logical explanation. I had Mr. W do the test (I will spare details for the squeamish). When he texted me back, "Shit. It's fleas," I lost my cool.

I spent all day and night scratching and obsessively checking myself, convinced they were all over me. Everything the dog has come into contact with has been bleached and he was given the bath of his life last night with proper flea killing products. It'll be an ongoing battle likely lasting several weeks. In an effort to quarantine the problem, Mr. W moved Dexter's bed from our bedroom floor to the living room last night. He petted him and lovingly explained that he'd have to sleep there for a few days. Then he closed our bedroom door. Big. Mistake. Dexter scratched, whined and cried for an hour until we finally gave up and opened the door. He promptly lay down on the floor, slept for maybe an hour, and got up and went back to his bed. He was sleeping in the living room when I woke up this morning. He just wanted to be in the bedroom because he wasn't allowed. He is an asshole.

Seattle hates my dog. He has been a magnet to disaster since his arrival. His combination of bad luck and appalling behavior make him practically intolerable. If he was a roommate, we'd have kicked him out. If this is the Universe somehow preparing me for a difficult child, mark my words, my tubes will be tied by week's end.

And yet, somehow, I still love the little jerk. I just feel a bit deprived of the years you’re supposed to have after your dog is no longer a puppy and he’s just a dog who behaves himself and loves you and doesn’t destroy your property or get fleas. I expected the dog to hate the city. I didn’t expect the city to hate the dog.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The best years of your life

Recently I was helping my bff at an event her company did the PR for (meaning we were “working” aka eating chocolate and drinking wine while making money because we are awesome) and she mentioned that she’d watched Oprah interview Shania Twain that week. Shania recently started talking publicly about finding out in 2008 that her husband was having an affair with one of her best friends… pretty much a worst nightmare situation.

“She just got remarried and she’s happy,” Sydney said. “And she said that she’s made peace with the situation. But she did say the only thing she was ever really bitter about was the fact that she spent the best years of her life with that man.”

That really struck a chord with me. After all, I never intended to marry young, but I did. I met a guy I thought was the most gorgeous man on the planet at only 18 and after a long friendship when he finally asked me on a date, I couldn’t have been more eager to accept. Neither of us had any idea that it would become what it has, but it did. Despite my vow to remain single through college, I didn’t. And despite all the odds that were against us and the challenges that come from loving someone when you don’t know who you are yet, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Still. The best years of your life. That’s a lot to think about. I’m an optimist and believe the best is always yet to come. I’ve loved nearly everything about my twenties but I’m looking forward to my thirties and I can only hope I’ll feel that way about my forties at 39. Eventually, though, you’ll end up elderly (if you’re lucky) with not a whole lot to look forward to. It’s then that all you’ll have (again, if you’re lucky) is your memories. And if you live right, that will be enough and you’ll be grateful for them. But the thought of reaching that point and having sorrow and regrets is pretty terrifying.

One year ago, before the great road trip, I was almost smug about my marriage. I thought we’d survived all we possibly could and nothing would ever go wrong again because by God, we had this marriage thing down. One year later I stand humbled and with the knowledge that I will never think that again. You never know what life will throw at you and you never fully know what you can expect from even the person you know best in the world. People change. People do strange things. And being married gives you an all access pass to another person that no one else gets to see.

Six years ago today I walked down the aisle of a church on a hill and spoke my vows and meant every word with my whole heart. One year ago I did the same thing in a tiny little chapel in Vegas wearing a little white sparkly dress and a tiara. It was just the two of us but somehow it was just as special if not more so. Today I can honestly say I’d do it again. It’s entirely possible that my twenties have been the best years of my life. And I’ve spent them with a man who loves me unconditionally, supports me, challenges me, comforts me and always opens the jars.

I preach independence more than anyone. I tell other people to stay single in their twenties to fully get to know themselves. I don’t think there’s a thing wrong with being single at any age. Relationships, even the good ones, are tough and complicated at times.

But I think in the end you have to do what’s best for you. And looking back I see that spending the last decade with this man truly was the right decision for me. I think of all the goals I had for that decade and all the things I wanted to experience. I’ve gotten to experience all of them and be in a healthy relationship at the same time because I’m with someone who gets me. Even if things somehow don’t work out to forever like we plan (because I’ve learned to say you just never know) I will never allow myself to regret spending the best years of my life with him. After all, they’ve been the best years of my life mostly because of him.

They say an Aquarius woman is most loyal, ironically, when you give her freedom and space. I fit that profile perfectly. And I am so blessed to have met a man so young who not only understand me but respects me. He places me not on a leash, not in chains, not on a pedestal but right by his side and lets it be known that’s where I’m welcome to stay. And on this special day I’m so happy that it’s where I belong. Today I celebrate the best decision I’ve ever made along with the second best, moving to Seattle. I can’t wait to see what the next part of our adventure together holds but have no doubt they’ll be more of the best years of my life.

Maybe some women aren’t meant to be tamed. Maybe they just need to run free until they find someone just as wild to run with. And I have.

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