I’ll readily admit that I’m not the smartest person in the world, but I know that acting in anger only leads to more anger, retaliation, and the next thing you know the Navy SEALs are sent in, when the whole situation could have been avoided with simple words.
After giving myself a day and a half to rage about the lolcat, (also, here) I came up with several revenge plans–which are much funner to plan than to enact, especially if you’ve got enough foresight to envision the consequences–then made a decision as to what I should do. And, when I’m trying to smooth things over, what I do usually involves baking.
Today, I made a batch of bread, and left one of the loaves on the lolcat’s doorstep, along with this letter:
Please accept this homemade whole wheat bread, and my apologies. I feel like there is an animosity between us that, as neighbors, we can ill afford. I am sorry that my dogs are noisy at times, but I want to make my position known.
I have spent most of my life battling severe emotional disorders—I was diagnosed with major depressive disorder at the age of ten, and my depression often manifests itself in the form of anxiety. I have spent a lifetime talking to therapists and trying to find the right combination of drugs that would get me, if not to normal, than at least to functional. Over the years I’ve learned that acting in the heat of emotion never results in the outcome desired, so I’ve allowed myself a couple of days to calm down, and collect my thoughts and feelings. I wish I was a brave enough person to explain all this in person, but I am not.
I share this with you not as an excuse, but as an explanation of how important Max and Lulu are. It’s been three years since they’ve come to live with me. In that time, I’ve been able to completely cease both psychotherapy and drug treatment—and it’s because of my dogs. On my very worst days, the days when I don’t want to get out of bed, I still have to, because Max and Lulu need me. They calm me down when I’m anxious. They cheer me up when I’m sad. They have quite literally saved my life—when I lost my job last year, I was suicidal, but I couldn’t abandon my dogs. The simple fact that before I could do anything to harm myself, I needed to provide for their care and welfare prevented me from doing anything rash.
Max and Lulu were adults when I acquired them. Their previous owners had done an excellent job with most of their training, but socialization was lacking. However, as the previous owners live on a side street in a quiet, rural town the fact that they would bark at passing vehicles or pedestrians wasn’t as big of a deal.
When they came to live with me three years ago, everything seen and heard outside the windows would set them off. Passing vehicles, people on foot, the roosters in the pen to the east, the trains, the birds…everything. I spent a lot of time teaching them to be apartment dogs, and have gotten them to the point where they only bark when they see, smell or hear another dog, when people are talking loudly outside, or when Lulu wants someone to come pay attention to her. And yes, I realize that that seems like a long list, but consider how much noisier they would be if they barked at every car that drove by, or every person going to check their mail.
I have tried to be a good neighbor when it came to Max and Lulu, and I honestly thought I was succeeding until a couple of weeks ago. I realize that living in a condo complex like Lakeridge comes with challenges, like hearing the neighbors dog’s bark, or crying babies, or loud music, for instance. I assumed that everybody else did too. I’m not really sure how to proceed at this point. On one hand, I’m angry at the idea of having to run the air conditioner when it’s in the 60s outside, because if I leave the glass door or windows open the dogs might bark and be annoying—I’m still looking for a job, and am on a very fixed income, and I don’t want to pay a cent more in utilities than I have to—but on the other hand, I don’t want you to be angry at me, or my dogs.
Likewise, keeping them contained isn’t an option. I know you didn’t believe me when I tried to explain this on Sunday, but being confined to the crate doesn’t stop the barking, rather, it intensifies it, and adds digging, growling and howling. The crate lives in my bedroom—directly above your bedroom. If the dogs are keeping you up at night, (and if they are, why don’t you tell me that, rather than the vague “annoying”?) restricting them to the crate would only make things worse. Furthermore, I don’t feel good about restricting their access to water at any time, especially as the weather warms up. You said that it’s not that hard. I say it’s not that easy.
Max and Lulu are my world, but I know to you they are only yappy little dogs. Imagine if someone was leaving vulgar notes on your door complaining about your sweet baby, and perhaps you can understand why this has upset me so much Please know that we are trying, and we are getting better. In the mean time, please be patent with us.
I tried to be gentle. I tried to show understanding and compassion, and above all, I used vowels. I also signed my name.
I don’t know what’s going to happen next. I hope that we can put this whole business behind us. I’m afraid that it won’t be that easy, though.
edit:The neighbor that I thought was the lolcat came to return the bread. She’s not the one who left the note. On the plus side, I have a new friend, and an ally in this whole issue. On the downside, I’m horribly embarrassed, and have no idea who the Lolcat actually is. So… now, I don’t know what to do.
I like to think that I understand dogs, Max and Lulu especially. I want to believe that the hours spent watching Animal Planet, and reading dog training advice (not to mention talking to the Trainers) during my breaks when I was working at PetSmart weren’t for nothing. I’m quietly smug when I see other people struggling with doggy issues that I know all about. I want to think of myself as a competent dog owner.
The past three years with Max and Lulu, though, have showed me that for all that I though I knew, there’s a million things that I didn’t know. And just when I think that I’m getting the hang of things, they throw me for a loop, and I’m left struggling in the dark.
For instance, a couple of nights ago I was going to bed at about 2 am. This isn’t as bad as it sounds–I had fallen asleep while reading earlier, and this just happened to be when I woke up, and had time to brush my teeth and put on pajamas and do all of those other little annoying things that a decent person does before going to bed.
As I was settling down, Max started looking for a toy. This isn’t unusual, because you never know, but I might just wake up in the middle of the night and decide to play with him. Plus, it gives Max a distraction if he’s awake and I’m not. The problem was where he was looking for the toy. He kept pawing at the wall next to the bed, like the toy he wanted had fallen between the bed and the wall.
I thought this was a little strange, but gamely moved the bed away from the wall to try and find the toy he wanted–shih tzu‘s are stubborn, and it’s hard to distract Max from a toy he wants. The problem was, there was nothing there. Max crawled under the bed and looked around, all the while growling and chuffing at me like he wanted to play, and I was hiding a toy from him. He got back up on the bed, and started digging at the bedding–that was really odd, because when I made the bed in the morning I make sure that any toys that spent the night with the dogs end up on the floor. Still, I pulled back the blankets and sheets, examining each layer to see if I’d somehow missed a thin toy or something.
I hadn’t, so I put the bed back together, and pushed it back up against the wall, and tried to settle down again, but Max was having none of that–he still kept digging at the wall. I wondered if a walk would distract him from whatever it was he was looking for. Upon putting on shoes–the universally recognized symbol that Cori is about to go outside at our house–Lulu perked up and followed me to the front door. Max kept digging at the mattress and wall. I was able to call him to go on the walk, and we were able to get things taken care of, and we headed back upstairs. Upon re-entering the house, Max, my velcro dog, the one who doesn’t like to be more than 10 feet away from me at any given time, made a beeline for the bed, and started digging and growling and huffing again–still playfully, though with a tinge of irritation.
It had been about forty-five minutes since this whole thing started, and I wanted to go to sleep–and it obviously wasn’t going to happen until Max had figured out that there was nothing there, so I grabbed a blanket and pillow, and went to sleep on the couch–cussing all the time. Here I’m supposed to be at least a quasi dog expert, and I just let my dog chase me out of my bed. As I lay on the couch, I pondered what could have caused Max to behave in such a manner–did we have mice? Possible, but we live on a third floor, and the wall he was digging at is an inside wall–it didn’t face the exterior and isn’t connected to a neighbor’s wall at all. Besides, it would be a weird place for mice to show up, I’d expect them in the kitchen or the bathroom, not the bedroom where the dogs spend most of their day. Something from the utilities, perhaps? We-e-e-l-l…that wall has electricity, and I THINK it’s where the dryer vent exits, but there isn’t gas or water running through that wall. And as for the dryer vent–we have had starlings nesting in it, but there nest had been cleared out, and a cage put over the exterior hole so they couldn’t build a new one there. And besides, even where there were birds living inside that wall, Max never showed them any interest.
Finally, I convinced myself that it was something from downstairs that Max was smelling, that it just happened to come up along that wall. I wasn’t terribly satisfied with that explanation, but it was an explanation. Explanations are important. Especially when it’s nearing 3am and I want to sleep.
I heard Max in the bedroom for perhaps another 15 minutes, then he decided that whatever it was he wasn’t finding wasn’t worth spending the night away from his person, so he came out to join me on the couch. I took that as a sign that it was okay to move back into the bedroom, and did so with the resolve that if Max’s adventure were to continue, he’d spend the rest of the night locked in the crate.
Fortunately, he had calmed down to the point where his half-hearted growls could be quieted with a heavy hand on the shoulders, and I was able to get some sleep, and even make it to class on time the next day, throughly puzzled about what had happened, and why it had happened.
The next night, I went to bed at a much more decent time, and Max settled down quickly, the way he normally does. While I was going to sleep, I was thinking about the dream I had had the night before, trying to figure out if I could frame it into a story (the answer is no, at least not at this time) and I wondered if what Max was did the night before was the result of being woken up from a dream.
The way I figure it, Max sees me opening up parts of the wall all day long, in the form of doors, windows, cupboards and drawers. If he had been dreaming that I (or someone else) opened up the wall by the bed and hid something there, then I woke him up by coming to bed, would he know the difference between dreams and reality? And, if in his dream, it was a really good toy or treat or whatever, than of course he’d keep going after it.
I don’t know if the dream explanation makes any sense, after all, I can’t exactly ask Max what he dreams about (well, I can, I just don’t get an answer). As long as it means that I don’t have mice.
So, a few months back, I re-arranged my bedroom. Before that time, the dog crate was at the foot of my bed, and I had taught the dogs that they could jump from the floor to the top of the crate, then from the crate to the bed, thus, saving me from having to completely wake up in the middle of the night when Lulu goes investigating, then comes back and wants to get back in the bed, but is too lazy/thinks she can’t get all the way up herself.
Lately, Lu has been waking me up in the middle of the night. A lot. So I decided that however awkward and weird it looks, I needed to put the crate somewhere where the dogs could use it to get on the bed.
Funny thing, when you don’t ask a dog to do something for five months, they forget how to do it.
So, all day, we’ve been working on re-learning how to use the crate to get on the bed. Like the first time around, Max got it in one go. Lulu… not so much…
And just when I was congratulating Max on his cleverness, he started growling at the video of himself.
It’s a good thing they’re cute.
I was getting ready to write a post yesterday, when my computer died. I’m grateful that my sister married a computer engineer–even if he was camping, and therefore unavailable at the time.
I managed to get a hold of Sis and the B-I-L, and B-I-L agreed to take a look at my computer, agreeing with me that it was probably the power cord. But not tonight–they were on their way to a play that the B-I-L’s sister is in. And so, I was preparing myself to face a weekend sans computer. Again.
But, I started thinking, and remembered that I had a surge-protector that I could attach to the power cord, and it would light up if it was getting power. So I did that. It spat and flickered, but eventually, lit up, and my computer then told me it was plugged in, and therefor usable. All I had to do, apparently, was threaten it with the B-I-L.
With all this drama I don’t remember what I was going to write about yesterday. But it was going to be good. Really.
This morning, I loaded the dogs into the car, and took them to the vet’s office to get shot. Er, I mean, to get their vaccinations–rabies and distemper and whatnot. Apparently, they haven’t been to the vet enough. Max was anxious, but it was more being in a strange place, surrounded by strange people and animals, including the cat next to us with an abscess that even I could smell. Lulu was having fun making friends with the other people, dogs, and yes, even the abscessed cat. She would have gone exploring back where the exam rooms are if she wasn’t on leash.
I asked the vet-tech who gave the shots about Lulu’s ear, and told her what I was doing for it. She said what I was doing was good, but told me something better to do. Which means, when the dogs get their hair cut on Thursday, then Lulu’s going to be shaved. To like an eighth of an inch all over, so I can get to her ear better. Lulu’s been shaved before, and, I have to say, a bald shih tzu is not a beautiful shih tzu. Pictures will follow. I promise.
My new roommate has started to move in, and I have mixed feelings about it. I like her, I really do–but I’m not really excited about having a roommate, extra income aside. But, she’s outgoing, and talkative, and has engaged me in more conversation in the past two days than I’ve had in a week. She’s going to be good for me.
And, if the cute boys who’ve been helping her move keep coming around, then all more the better, right?
The good news is, what with being without a computer, and hiding in my room to stay out of the way while the roommate moves in, I’ve gotten a lot of reading done. I’m not caught up, by any means, but it’s a good start. I always forget how much I love reading until I lose myself in a good book.
It’s been a rough few days.
Yesterday, we worked to the point of a) exhaustion and b) where we didn’t know what to do next. The trailer is–well, it’s hard to say. I form a different opinion of how bad things are every time I go in. All I know is that Dad wants the B-I-L’s opinion before deciding how next to proceed.
After spending all day yesterday on the phone, trying to describe to various salespeople what parts we needed, Dad and I went on a shopping trip to the city. Mom opted to stay at home and watch the dogs. Notice dogs is plural.
When we returned home after a few hours, the first thing I did was go and check on my babies, and found the dog–singular. Max had gone missing.
I can’t even begin to explain how out of character this is for my little boy. Max is my velcro dog. Yes, I often can’t find him, but that’s because he’s directly behind me. But, Mom put the dogs in the backyard, went shopping, and when she came home, only Lulu was there.
Max isn’t as smart as I think he should be–but that’s because I make an unfair comparison to my last black and white dog, who was at least half border collie. But he’s smart enough to know my parents house, and to know when we are here, that this is where he needs to stay.
Well, thank goodness for small communities that still believe in raising children free range, because while I was crying, and searching, and crying, and making lost dog posters, and crying, and praying, Mom was gathering the neighborhood kids into a search party. And while they didn’t Max, a couple of the boys told their mom that they were looking for him.
Well, the mom happened to see an employee of a local sandwich shop grab Max as he was trying to cross the highway, so she knew who had her. The mom was then able to get us into contact with Max’s rescuer, and I once again have two dogs.
I know that I’m not going to have Max and Lulu forever. I know that they were five years old when they came to live with me, and they haven’t gotten any younger. I know that they are just dogs–if there is anything as just a dog.
Right now, though, Max and Lulu are my reason for living. There are days that they are the only reason I get out of bed.
I know that I need something else to hold on to, but right now, I’m glad that I just have something.
And I’m so glad that Max is home.
Max has claimed any current and future crochet and knit projects for himself. He’s discovered that he loves to play with yarn, probably because I don’t like him to.
Well, I’m nothing if not an indulgent dog mom.
I didn’t start out to make a dog toy. Really. I wanted to make a pair of lovebirds (you do have to sign in to see the pattern, but it’s free, and you can tell them not to send you stuff). Max kept begging to play with it.
While I was making it.
After it had been sprayed with a bitter agent.
Anyway, I noticed that the cup I had was about the same size as a mini tennis ball that Max doesn’t play with very often, I popped the ball inside my crocheting, and it was a perfect fit. I finished crocheting around the ball.
Those thumps at the beginning of the video is me bouncing the ball in front of the camera.
I figured something out: If you want to cheer up, you should do something that you enjoyed doing as a kid. Like building a fort.
One of the things that sold me on my condo was these awesome shelves that a previous owner had installed in the bedroom–great storage for books without cluttering up the floor with an actual bookcase. For most of the time that I’ve lived here, I’ve had my bed next to a wall with a short little shelf.
When I thought I was getting a desktop computer, I moved my bed to the wall under the long shelves, and ever since then, I’ve wanted to drape sheets off the shelves to make a fort.
Here’s how my bed normally looks: Notice the beautiful quilt and pillowcase my mom made, and gave me for Christmas. And the totally awesome shelves. And my book collection. Doesn’t this call for a fort?
I went to a thrift store today, and purchased some sheets that were bigger than the twin size I have around my house (That’s not the only reason I went to the thrift store, but since I was there…)
After washing them in hot water, I carefully suspended the sheets, using my books and book ends as weights. This is what I got from the outside:
Okay, so it doesn’t look so great, BUT forts don’t have to look great, right?
The inside is much better, AND has the added benefit of confusing the heck out of shih tzus:
The part you can’t see: When Lulu can’t figure out how to get down, she starts playing with my toes.
My fort even has a TV:
Okay, I admit, I’m about 18 years past the point when people usually stop building forts out of blankets and sheets, but dangit, I haven’t stopped giggling since I started this little project.
I’m going to have to do some experimenting, to make sure that books and bookends won’t come down if the sheets get tugged on too hard. If that works, I’m totally going to leave it up overnight.
* NOTE: I love my dogs. I actually do try to make their lives easier. I don’t confuse them on purpose very often. A confused shih tzu is entertaining, but a content shih tzu is a great cuddler, and I prefer the cuddles.