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.


motherof many said...

Yes Jess this is good practice for having that unruly child ....believe me I have both unruly dogs and unruly teens:)
The move is a huge adjustment for the little guy and he's just not sure what the heck is going on.
As for the fleas...what is the flea test? I only ask cause my dogs are scratching and we can't find any there really a test?
Dog farts have the power to wake anyone from a sound sleep except the dog! LOL All 3 of ours sleep in our room and between one of them snoring and the other one farting the little dog and I often leave to escape the fumes. I just leave the hub there since his fumes are almost as toxic:)
good luck sweetie!

JD said...

My Maple started acting out like this at an even older age, doing such fun things as eating an entire pound of Godiva chocolate (amazingly, she didn't so much as fart afterwards), breaking two windows in an effort to break out of the house (she succeeded both times), busting giant holes through all the interior apartment doors, etc. This went on for about three years. The only solution offered by our vet was to give her a sedative before we left for work in the morning. We hated to dope her up, but it really seemed to help (because she was too stoned to climb the four feet to get to the windows or to unlock the sliding glass door). After several months, we were able to reduce her dosage to half a pill and, eventually, to none at all. Remember that at full maturity, a dog is mentally and emotionally the equivalent to a human 2 yr old.
Good luck and try not to punch poor Dexter in the snout.

Annie Boreson said...

Oh Jessica, I'm sorry that poor Dexter has had a rough adjustment to apartment life and Seattle. Everyone thinks dogs are thrilled to do anything as long as they are with the ones they love, but not always so. Hey, on a different note. There is a pill called Comfortis that you get at the vet, or 1-800-Pet-Meds, and that works like a charm. One at the beginning of the month and he will be free of those buggers. Good luck!

gatordad said...


Ask your vet about "Advantage" or "Revolution" for fleas, heart worms, and whatever else ails him.
We in Florida know all about these things for dogs.
Sometimes, it just doesn't work out.

Lower your guilt quotient a little. All dogs has a good place for them to live; it just may be in somebody elses house.

JessicaLee said...

That's a lot of kids and dogs, Mary. It's a miracle you're still sane. ;)

JessicaLee said...

I like the idea of getting him stoned. :)

wearmanyhats said...

Oh, I so am appreciative of my husbands "midlife crisis" (aka...Rikki the puppy.) He doesn't do all of this, thank God. You have the patience I do not. I'd be looking for a new dog. Funny, huh. Love that thing about getting the dog stoned. I can think of a few housewives whose husbands would be better if they did that....LOL.

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