Animals

My Bad Dog

Lola was my good girl/bad dog. My Mom and I brought her home as a puppy my junior year of college. I can’t remember why we picked her out of the litter of yellow lab/golden retriever puppies, but she was adorable. She was supposed to be for my high school aged brother, but Lola belonged to everyone. She didn’t play favorites.

I was moving to New Orleans for a few months for my junior winter, so I only had a few weeks with her as a tiny puppy. She cried in her kennel downstairs, a poor idea since she had just left her Mom and siblings, so she spent the night in my bed. She slept in my bed almost every night I was home. I’ve always thought those early weeks imprinted on her because although my time at home has been infrequent, she’s always greeted it with boundless enthusiasm.

Our first car trip I put her in a cardboard box to drive her over to my friend Maria’s house to show her off, but before long she wriggled out of the box and onto my lap. It’s not easy to drive stick shift with a puppy on your lap, but I managed. For twelve years my Mom and I have said “puppy in a box!” and laughed each time.

Whenever I’ve come home she’s gone ballistic. She runs around me in circles until she calms down enough to bring me one of her toys. As she’s gotten older and her arthritis has gotten worse, I’ve taken to sitting on the floor to try and entice her to my lap instead of her frantic laps. It’s had 50/50 success rate.

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She was full of love. When I’d go home to visit she’d continuously check my door to see if I was awake yet. It crushed me when I forgot to tell her goodbye one trip and my Mom told me that she’d waited outside my door the next morning. One of our favorite games was calling her up on the bed, she’d be so excited she’d jump up and roll around and them jump down and run around and then repeat 5-10 times.

Like any lab/retriever she was ball obsessed and she loved to swim. I taught her to jump off the dock at my parent’s pond. She loved me enough that after I had jumped off a couple of times and called for her each times, she eventually couldn’t take it anymore and followed me in. It was all we could do when she got older and more fragile to keep her from jumping off of it in her later years.

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She could have amazing discipline. She’d play tug of war with you and give it everything she had, including menacing growls, but as soon as you told her to stop, she’d let go and sit, waiting for you to tell her when it was play time again. She’d do just about anything for a treat. She also smiled a lot and often looked at you as if she were saying “isn’t this just the best?”

Lola lived to twelve years and she never stopped going in the trash or running off if she was loose for any length of time. She particularly liked to run up the road to my parent’s closest neighbor’s house and shit on their lawn. She also occasionally pooped in the dining room, she had quite a cover job going for a while with my parent’s other dog getting blamed and only got found out when Bogie passed away. She snapped at most of the cats and occasionally bit them if she was feeling particularly grouchy. She never really liked other dogs other than a few exceptions. But she loved us like crazy and she enjoyed every day of life like it was the best day she’d ever had. She was my good girl/bad dog.

Lola’s had multiple lives. She’s had leg problems for a couple of years, had some adventurous dining decisions, and has had some very close calls. I’ve said goodbye to her every time I’ve gone home the last couple of years because I knew each visit might be the last one with her and I wanted to make sure she knew how much I loved her.

Dogs are the worst. They make us love so hard and never live long enough for it not to be crushing when they go. She’s a piece of home that will be missing.

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RIP Theodore

Theodore, I fight the urge to say that you were taken from us too soon, but really you lasted beyond any expectation we had for you. You came into our lives about a year ago with a circus themed box from Barkbox. Your brother, Telemachus the tiger, was only with us for a few short months before meeting his end.

Wallace adored you. Unfortunately, that kind of love can also be damaging. While he affectionately groomed you and carried you around and tried to share you with whomever was sitting on the couch, there was a dark side to this as well. At times he would gnaw on you and chew, and we feared the end was near. Despite this hot and cold love, you lasted for months, enduring it all without a complaint (one of your finest attributes was truly that you didn’t have any squeaker).

I wonder if Wallace knew that the violent part of your relationship was reaching an escalating moment, because the week before your end he placed you on the kitchen stool next to me and went and laid down in the living room. It was the most reverence I’d ever seen him give to a stuffed animal.

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A few days later it was all over. I looked over at Wallace, who was on his dog bed, and there you were. For the first time, Wallace looked sad gazing upon your fluffy entrails that surrounded him. I’d never seen him show remorse after murdering one of his stuffed companions, you were the first, and there have been many. Wallace remained there with his ears back and I truly believe if he could have undone his actions, he would have. It was much like the harsh childhood lesson I experienced at a young age when I learned the hard way that My Little Pony manes don’t grow back after you cut them off.

So thank you Theodore for your endurance and your companionship. You were missed, it’s unclear if Wallace retains memory of previously adored stuffed animals, but in that moment you were mourned.

Theodore is survived by the Quilted Pig, Puppy (the cat stuffed animal), the rope toy, some Mardi Gras stuffed throws, and a collection of outdoor toys.

Some Ways That Puppies Are Different Than Toddlers

My puppy and I have been together for about three months and have spent a lot of time together. Being a full time puppy Mom (does that sound better than unemployed or just really weird?), I spend more time with my puppy than my husband. (Ok, now it sounds weird).

In the beginning I called him “baby lite” because it is a bit like having a baby. You’re waking up throughout the night, they can’t be left unwatched other than when they’re in their kennel, they can’t really do anything by themselves, and they’re actually babies. However, when they hit the toddlerish age, they stop being comparable to their human equivalents. This became blindingly clear when my four month old puppy tried to get to know the cat biblically. (Yes they’re both neutered). My reaction was a mix of, well this was inevitable, and bad puppy! If my toddler had tried this, I think I’d be taking a long hard look at myself and the messages I was sending. Puppy got put in his kennel and if it had been my toddler, I think there may have been some kind of therapy involved.

Puppies are not kids. You love them a lot and they require a lot from you, but they’re another much more manageable category: dogs, and I’m good with that. Much like toddlers they will destroy things if left alone, but this should only last a couple more months with Wallace, whereas we’d be looking at years with a kid. They do grow up too fast, see below.

My puppy can take himself out to go to the bathroom at any time of day/night as long as we let him out and back in. Toilet training lasted about a month and a half. I’d say this one is a tossup between puppies and toddlers. It’s great that it was so quick, but we still have to clean up the yard. The end game with kids is using a toilet, which is pretty excellent.

Wallace will eat whatever we give him. There is no pickiness here. He will also do just about anything for a treat, which can be an actual dog treat or a piece of cheese or anything that looks like it might be tasty. Right now he has four things that he could be asking for through crying:

1. To go out

2. Food/Water

3. Attention

4. The cat

That’s it. No one will ever launch a blog “Reasons my puppy is crying” other than to look at cute puppy photos. He wears the same thing every day and if it gets dirty, I just use a hose. To amuse him all I have to do is throw a ball. Everything I teach him is to make my life easier: stay, sit, down, no… He’s already a gentleman. I told him “no” when he was trying to bite my hand, so he offered to shake my hand instead as an apology. And the best way a puppy is different than a toddler: I can leave him home alone.

Walking With Elephants

When we first started discussing Thailand I had a dream of petting tigers. I had read about Tiger Temple and imagine it this perfect place where monks really did exist harmoniously with tigers. I was beyond stolked. Then I started doing research and learned the really unsurprising (when you actually think about it) truth that to pet full grown tigers they have to be drugged or chained. I couldn’t bring myself to visit any of the Thailand tiger attractions as a result (A. was relieved since he believes you shouldn’t do anything that if you were to be hurt or die people would be like ‘duh’). However, I wasn’t leaving Thailand without some significant animal interaction.

So I started researching elephants and found a rescue center that we could visit and stay overnight, The Elephant Nature Park. We went on our 4th day in Thailand. It was hella hot (100°+), but the experience was amazing.

They rescue elephants from street begging, circuses, trekking camps (tourist rides), and logging camps in Burma. Each elephant needs to be purchased from their owners so despite the abuse the park needs to maintain positive relationships with the groups that own them or risk being shut out. Apparently every elephant you meet in Thailand that didn’t have the rare fortune of being born at the park or rescued at a young age was ‘broken’ through at least 3 days of torture in a tiny enclosure, we watched some video and it’s ugly stuff.

The park was pretty amazing. They have 38 elephants ranging from little babies to old ladies. Some are healthy and doing well, but most have some sort of trauma that may or may not be visible. The saddest was one very gentle girl who had a badly healed broken leg and hips from separate injury occasions. There were also several with broken backs from carrying tourists, apparently not a healthy activity for them.

While we were there we got to hand feed them, pet them, and was them over the two days we were there. They were absolutely amazing animals, especially looking at how they care for each other. They have several blind one from mistreatment and cataracts, and each has at least one “seeing elephant” that had bonded with them and stays with them always. Each elephant was with their Mahoot (a person responsible for them at all times) and no restraints or discipline tools. The gentle/friendly ones we got to interact with up close while they were loose, the less friendly or ones with babies we observed from a little distance. It was cool to b able to have so much interaction while not imposing on the animal’s needs.

The park also rescue dogs and cats and I finally got to pet some (A. calls them “fuzzy deaths”) because they rabies vaccinate. It was much needed since everyone has cats and dogs here. There were around 200 dogs there, most in the dog rescue kennel, but probably around 40 free range.

Overall it was amazing to spend time and learn about such beautiful animals. It was inspiring to hear about all of the park’s efforts to try and change something so ingrained in Thailand’s culture.

Look forward to lots of elephant photos when I have a real computer in a month or so.