Tuesday, May 2, 2006

The $800 Exploding Dog Butt



Register columnist

I know there are probably fetishists out there who would consider $800 for a house full of dog feces a veritable bargain. I, as it turns out, am not one of them.

It all started when my dog bit my kid. This should be the end of the story, considering that when we were children, a bitten baby spelled doggy deportation. ("We sent her to a nice farm," is what parents usually told their kids. I was 27 before I learned what this meant.) But since I love Sketch, and since Zev's first word was "Etch," Hubby decided to send Old MacDonald a rain check and give the girl another chance. This meant hiring a canine behaviorist. Yep. My dog's seeing a shrink.

For $800, the behaviorist promises to turn Sketch from the skittish ball of fur she is into a confident, calm and less toothy canine. So far, though, all we've seen is poop. Lots of it. Everywhere.

It's a wholly new neurosis, and it's got me thinking, "Does she really need to learn not to bite? Zev's pretty resilient."

In truth, the poop is an involuntary reaction to the change in diet that the doggy doctor recommended. Sometimes diet can cause behavioral issues, he said. Improve her diet, and these issues will go away.

Um, sure they will. Along with her pancreas.

Hubby is blaming himself for listening to Dr. Doggy and changing Sketch's food cold turkey. Nobody but Dr. Doggy thinks this is a good idea. Sketch certainly doesn't. Neither do my rugs, floors, rags or washing machine. We've tried switching back to her old food, but that hasn't solved the problem. The new problem, I might add. The old problems - excessive barking, snippiness, anxiousness, those haven't gone away either.

Eight hundred dollars later, Sketch is now a threat to Zev from both ends.

"What should we do?" Hubby asks.

A logical reaction would be to quit. What's weirder: being a dog shrink or hiring one? Let's get out now while we still have a few corners of unstained carpet left.

"Stay the course," I say.

"Seriously?" he asks.

"Yes," I say, on a roll. "I am the decider, and I decide what's best."

I like Dr. Doggy, I explain. Sketch instantly took to him, and he seemed to calm her down. The diet fiasco notwithstanding, I think there's a lot we can learn from him.

Plus, when Sketch rushed over to give him a voracious sniffing he didn't say, "Oh, she probably smells my dog."

Why do people say that? She doesn't smell your dog. She smells you.

My dog's nose can be buried way up someone's rear, and he'll invariably say, "She probably smells my dog." Why? Did you eat your dog? I wish people wouldn't say that - and Dr. Doggy didn't.

The main reason I don't want to give up on Dr. Doggy, is that I can't bear the thought of giving up on Sketch. Sure she barks so much that I sometimes flee my house just to escape the incessant noise. And, yes, she hates children, strangers, other dogs, bipeds, quadrupeds, arachnids and doorbells. And, OK, she doesn't even like to snuggle and is really more trouble than she's worth.

But Zev's eyes light up when he sees her. He flaps his arms wildly at her (which, let me tell you, anxiety-ridden dogs just love). She has fascinated him since he first took notice of her; some of his hardiest laughter has been inspired by her antics. Wanting to chase Sketch helped motivate Zev to learn to crawl.

For Sketch's part, she may be skittish, but she clearly feels an affinity for Zev, too. When she's relaxed, Sketch can withstand Zev pulling fistfuls of fur from her back without so much as a growl. She lies outside his door when he's napping, keeping guard over his crib.

It's often her well-tuned nose pressed firmly into his bum that first alerts me to Zev's need for a diaper change.

So I can't just send Sketch to go live on a farm. I can't not give the girl a chance for rehabilitation. Maybe I'm off my rocker, but I've got to give this touchy-feely dog doctor stuff a try.

And now, if you'll excuse me, I have a lot of cleaning to do.


  1. Deb: "Mayrav is taking her dog to a shrink."
    Zach: "Of all the people you've ever met in your life, who is the most likely to take their dog to a shrink?"
    Deb: Thoughtful head nod, shrug.

  2. I love the line "Sketch is now a threat to Zev from both ends." Sketch is family and you wouldn't give up on her anymore than you would give up on Zev.