I should have stomped my foot and stomped it again and said, “I can’t handle three giant dogs!” I stomped quite a bit, maybe even more than stomped. I begged, even suggested we sneak out of Montana in the middle of the night and ditch the whole lot of them. I knew then that I didn’t have the stuff to handle three 100+ lb. dogs and the muddy, dirty, stinky, and chaotic mess they make in our tiny suburban home. But no. We have three dogs and from that moment until this very second, I feel second rate. I resent it. I know I do. I don’t feel valued; don’t feel listened too. I’m convinced that my feelings take a constant back burner to his.
Every so often, my husband will get exasperated with my moans and groans about the drudge-work that accompanies mud, dog prints, and tumbleweeds of fallen fur. He’ll throw up his hands (metaphorically, he’s a very non-expressive man) and say something like. Oh wait. He never says anything… The third dog cost me a few friendships, but they would have ended eventually, anyway.
I do all the complaining around here, and not so much because I’m a complainer, because as far as women go (and I know a lot of them), I’m the most easy-going woman I know. I complain because I need to make big changes in my life. This current way of life isn’t working for me. So this is an essay full of malaise mixed with what I hope is humor, but I fear I’ve gone so far down the cynic’s rabbit hole, I’m no longer funny. Not funny at all.
I am stuck with three gigantic and very messy, very loving, very vivacious and dedicated dogs, one that would probably die of stress-related bloat if we ever left her overnight at a kennel or a dog care facility, so vacations to Europe or a sunny tropical beach are out for several years. Since that’s the case, I need to find vacations here, mind vacations at least. How can I do that? Details in another blog, maybe tomorrow.
I belong to an organization belonging to these dogs and the people who love them. Some of these people are certifiably insane and there are turf wars, mean girl groups, vigilantes who believe their way is right and those that disagree are wrong! Wrong! Wrong! We block one another on Facebook. We write thinly veiled tirades not exactly naming the evildoers, but leaving enough details in to make it obvious to the gossips and those “in the know.” The name calling and the cruelty is pathological. I need to leave these groups for my ever-weakening sanity. There are lovely people too. Very lovely! Some of the nicest people on earth, so I’m torn. I love them, you see.
On the other hand, someone I thought was kind of (sort of) friendly to my husband and me blocked me on Facebook, and I don’t know what I did wrong. She was running for President of the club and maybe she determined that I didn’t vote for her. I really don’t know. The last thing she said to me in a private conversation we’d had a week earlier was that she was available to me “any time.” Then BOOM! I was out. It offended me. It also upset my husband because I was offended.
“You have to stop obsessing about these things, ” he said. “These are people we’ll never meet in Real Life.” I guess he’s right. I need to let this stuff go.
Jim and I spent hundreds, maybe thousands, of dollars on taking Zoe (the third dog I didn’t want) to dog shows this year. She did well, very well. Well enough to become what the dog club calls “National Select,” which is based on points earned at the dog shows. There are ten of them chosen every year. But there was a problem. There is a rule that in order to be selected as a National Select dog, the dog must have good hips, as evidenced by X-rays and a report that the hips are tight and clear of hip dysplasia. The report isn’t viable until the dog (or bitch) is 24-months old, and that’s where are problem began. Zoe needed the report done before 12/31/13 and she turned two years old on 3/31/14. We didn’t read the rules accurately. We should have had the tests taken before 12/31/13, and then had them done again after she was two. Oh, sure! That’s ridiculous, but those are the rules. We didn’t follow the rules.
Because of this, Zoe lost her national title, and because of that, I am so fucking done with the dog world. (Forgive my language, Aunt Betty, but it’s the only appropriate word.) It’s our fault for not understanding the rules. It’s my fault that we have three giant dogs that suck all of my time away. It’s my fault I’m tired of the mess, that I can’t function in chaos, that I’m never going to write a novel, that I’m just another aging woman in a sea of aging women that don’t do much to affect their worlds, but at least they kept most of the dirt off their hardwood floors and fed their hard working husbands at night. That’s worth something, I guess.
On a good note: I am not turning to food for any kind of solace. Oh, I think about turning to food! Today I walked into a grocery store to pick up a couple of things and wondered if eating a couple of bear claws would help. I decided they wouldn’t. I picked up a package of warm “loaded” mashed potatoes from the deli: bacon, cheddar cheese, sour cream, butter, and green onions! Mmmmmmm….. I put them back. No thank you.
I left a message on Facebook that explained I’m taking a break for a while. So that’s what I’m doing. Instead of checking in on friends and (apparent) foes online, I’m living in the real world, such as it is. I cleaned my office. I cleaned out the junk in the fridge. I’m doing laundry. I’m walking other people’s dogs. I’m going to spend two hours every day writing. (That’s my mini-vacation, since we can’t go to France.)
I have taken things too personally. My skin has grown too thin. I have one too many dogs, but I can’t change that now. They are family. I have participated in a cult-like dog group and need to break ties with The Crazy Ones in that group, although most of The Crazies have blocked me for reasons unknown. I have lost touch with myself. I am lost, seriously lost.
This is not a bad place to be. It’s a blank piece of paper. It’s a brand new day. I have endless possibilities presented to me. I have the luxury of choices, and “luxury” is an important word. All of these complaints are first world problems. I have the luxury to be depressed because I have to take care of three amazing, loving, dedicated dogs that love me with all of their beings.
He puts his cheek against mine
and makes small, expressive sounds.
And when I’m awake, or awake enough
he turns upside down, his four paws
in the air
and his eyes dark and fervent.
“Tell me you love me,” he says.
“Tell me again.”
Could there be a sweeter arrangement? Over and over
he gets to ask.
I get to tell. ~ Mary Oliver