Saturday, May 23, 2009

Let's Get Serious: On Dog Ownership

Looks like it’s about that time again for my quarterly post. Though interesting, Slav’s post about Mi Ranchito deserves to be knocked down a few pegs. Don’t get me worng, the place is great—we ate there last night. Still, it’s probably time for some new content.

Having said that, the ladyfriend and I recently adopted a 1-year-old dog from a shelter. His name is Sully—they named him at the shelter for Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenburger, the U.S. Airways pilot/national hero. Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to get him behind the controls of a 737 yet, but needless to say, if pressed into duty, he would perform as admirably as his namesake. Meaning of course that he would crash the fucking thing into a river. I kid the good captain, I know…

At any rate, he’s just about the cutest dog imaginable. The local dog catcher out in rural Missouri found him on the side of the road, and initially kept him longer than he was supposed to because he looks like a family pet. Fortunately, the shelter stepped in and saved him before the worst could happen. They neutered him and gave him most of his puppy shots. We found him on www.petfinder.com, an excellent resource if you’re thinking of getting a dog, and as soon as we saw him we thought he was just an awesome little guy. The ladyfriend called up the shelter and asked them to bring him to an adoption event at a local Petco that weekend. Fortunately, we were able to adopt him shortly thereafter.

Sully definitely has his quirks. He is fiercely loyal, sitting outside of the bathroom whenever either of us uses it. Unfortunately, because he became so attached to us so quickly, it also presented some initial problems. For like 2 weeks, he had non-stop energy. We couldn’t throw toys for him enough, he’d climb up on top of the couch and lay there, licking whomever’s face happened to be next to him, and he was just generally hyper. As he became attached to us, though, he started getting more territorial, starting to bite people who wanted to pet him on the street and friends that came over. He also had a bad case of separation anxiety, meaning he would bark for long stretches whenever we left the house. Fortunately, he had been completely housetrained before he got to us, so that hasn’t really been an issue.

Undeterred, we knew we had to start training him. We made him start sitting before he gets anything he wants—food, treats, having the door opened for him for walking, etc. We also started turning on the TV when we left. Initially we left it on Animal Planet. Why? I don’t know—I guess we thought that dogs like Animal Planet for some reason. Unfortunately, he’d get riled up if he heard something he didn’t like on there, so we changed it to HGTV—plenty of humans talking in calm, measured tones so that he thinks that people are in the room next to him. As a result, I think he could pass the realtor’s exam in either Miami or Canada, where apparently all of these HGTV shows take place. He also has taken to pissing on several “For Sale” signs in the area—I guess that’s what he thinks of the prices that they’re asking for.

We also made a “rattle” out of a coke can and pennies, that we used for a while when he would start biting. It calmed him down quite a bit, but it made him afraid of loud noises so we stopped.

We also recently got two things that appear like they will be lifesavers. The first is a “Kong” toy. This thing looks like a hollowed out set of spheres welded together. Basically, you fill it up with flavored aerosol “goop” (think easy-cheese) and the dog goes nuts licking the shit out of it. He loves that thing, and now when we want him to be quiet, we fill it up with peanut butter-flavored goop and he goes nuts on it. The second item is a laser pointer. He will chase that red dot anywhere it goes—up and down the hallway, into his cage, basically anywhere. It’s quickly become his new favorite pastime.

Other benefits of dog ownership include the walks. Since he’s housetrained, usually he needs 4-1/2 walks a day—one in the morning, one at noon, one in the early evening, one in the later evening, and then taken out to piss right before bedtime. Many people think that this is a pain, but it has been great for my health. I’ve lost about 10 pounds since we got him, basically all from walking him. He gets us out of the house when otherwise we’d just be sitting around, watching something on the TV. Believe it or not, fresh air and sunlight is good for you—I’ve started sleeping better, as the night terrors, “voices,” and alien abductions have subsided dramatically. OK, I’m kidding—the aliens still abduct me.

Of course, the benefits of dog ownership are unrivaled. Given proper exercise, they are loyal companions that can be trusted to not ruin your house or apartment. I say given proper exercise because we have started watching “The Dog Whisperer,” among other dog shows, and it is amazing how many people just expect their dogs to be automatically housetrained. When asked how often they take the dog out, they usually answer “Oh, we don’t walk him. We just take him outside.” Ridiculous! And most of the time these people have kids, too! No wonder their fat kids are going to grow up to be fat adults that we all have to take care of through a grossly inefficient Medicare system! I mean, if you can’t even walk a dog, how much exercise is your kid going to get? Maybe he’ll play on some “we don’t keep score” soccer team, but that’s a story for a different day.

So basically, if you want a companion and you are ready for the responsibility, I would highly recommend getting a dog. And there are plenty of great ones already on Petfinder in your area, so consider that when doing so. We don’t know where Sully came from, but we think he might have been abandoned by his previous owner, as he is whip-smart and seems like he’s had some training. If you have the means to take care of a dog, there are plenty of great pets that were abandoned by people who simply could not afford them any longer due to the economy. Unfortunately, instead of doing the responsible thing and trying to find a home for their pet themselves or taking them to a no-kill shelter, many of these people let them go free or leave them in abandoned or foreclosed houses with little or no food or water until (hopefully) a kindly stranger finds them. So think about pet adoption—it can be a fulfilling and transformative experience. And I mean, come on, can you say no to this face?:

Can you?

Questions? Comments? Want more or less dog stuff? E-mail the BlogMogger team at blogmogger@yahoo.com.