There is something liberating about being able to admit that you have made a terrible mistake. Today Keith and Delia and I finally admitted it. Our home is not a good place for Tycho to live. More importantly, and I'm feeling better about saying it each time I do, I Am Not A Dog Person.
Keith and Tycho get along fine, in fact, my husband really likes the skinny little creature. I thought last night as I lay crying myself to sleep that if I died tomorrow and Keith and Delia had to go on without me, Tycho would probably stay. I heard it in my husband's voice this afternoon when he said "I like the little guy, but not enough to endure the stress he creates in our home." Which translated to honesty means "I like him, but it is clear he drives you crazy and I can't stand your constant bitching." I can accept that.
Last night was just like every other night for the past 3 months. At bedtime for Delia, I make the circuit of the upstairs checking the places Tycho likes to leave us little "presents." Yes, there's one in the laundry, yes there's one in the pile of clothes by the heating vent in Delia's room. And as an extra special surprise there was a puddle in front of her dresser. Of course I only noticed this puddle After I had made her put away the floor puzzle that had been on the floor in front of the dresser. Yay, I get to clean up EXTRA dog urine now on stuff he didn't even pee on on purpose! And the people I live with can't smell it, neither one of them. They look at me like I'm crazy, but I know I am not crazy (well, I am not having olfactory hallucinations, at least).
So I cleaned up the messes, I got the kid and myself into bed, and the nightime madness began. I am almost asleep when Tycho decides he must now join me (after refusing to sit with me and Delia for storytime) in the bed. Which is ok, I don't mind sharing my bed with animals, but since the dog has been with us Harley will not sleep with us, and I miss Harley more than I like the constant licking sounds coming from under the covers as Tycho "grooms himself." So I get past the licking, and am mostly asleep when the first round of barking starts. Barking at the neighbors coming and going, barking at cars going down the street, barking at whatever outdoor creatures dare to come within fifty feet of our home (nothing quiets him, not petting, shushing, swaddling in blankets... nothing). Then he jumps out of bed, runs downstairs to check it out, runs back upstairs and scratches at the side of the bed for me to pick him up. He Completely Ignores the bench I set up by the bed so he could climb up by himself (I know he can do it, I have seen him do it, he just won't do it for me). All night long, barking, scratching, licking, over and over and over.
I wrote my husband a note begging for help (it felt a lot like the last time I called the 24-hour suicide hotline), for him to please tell me what to do to make this dog not drive me completely insane. I guess I didn't really have to though, because Keith said he heard me, after he came home and was making coffee. I guess Tycho had satisfied his curiosity and had come back upstairs to torture me, I mean to get into the nice warm bed, and his scritch scritch scratching on my side of the bed awakened me from my tenuous sleep, and Keith heard me say "I hate you dog," as I tried to pick him up. He backed away from my hands, then when I would give up and lay back down he would start scratching again. At that moment, he was between me and peace, and I am sure I did hate him. But I don't hate him right now.
I have blogged several times about how frustrated I am with the dog problems. I like to think that people can find the humor in these situations that I do, and that they don't automatically assume I'm horribly mistreating the creature because of his "accidents," although I am not so sure. At the New Year's Eve party, I assume in response to my Christmas Eve rant, one friend surreptitiously suggested that another friend would happily take Tycho off my hands. Honestly my first reaction was to be insulted. Here I am, cleaning up dog shit every goddamned day so I can give my daughter the one thing she's been begging for for years, doing my best, and some woman who barely knows me thinks... Thinks what? That I am not a fit dog parent? That she could do a better job? That if she reads one more blog about how upset I was that he pissed all over our mortgage payment book that she'll be forced to call the Humane Society and have him rescued? Well, now I realize she's right (and she probably only meant it as a kindness). I do a terrible job. I admit it. I really don't know what to do with a dog at all. So Sue me for trying. But I know someone who does.
Keith's aunt was diagnosed last year with some serious life-threatening health problems. She's on an organ transplant list, but she's not holding her breath. She gave her dog (a pit bull who is as sweet as cherry pie and as gentle as a lamb) to her son when she sold her house and decided to travel and really live the rest of her life. Now, a year later, she's here in WV, living with Delia's Grandma and Grandma Virginia. My husband says if Aunt Donna had a way with people like she has a way with dogs, she's be holding a major elected office. Donna loved Tycho from the moment they met. And when Keith called her this afternoon, she was enthusiastic, delighted, and serious. Keith's Mom and Grandma like Tycho too (because he really is completely likable if he's not shitting in Your laundry and pissing down Your heater vents) so everyone there is happy about the arrangement. Delia is happy because she can visit Tycho whenever she wants (and she won't find his "presents" in her room anymore), Keith is happy because people who have pets live healthier longer lives, statistically speaking, and I am happy because Tycho will live with someone who actually speaks Dog, who knows how to take good care of him and make him happy. Nerfa and Harley will not know happiness until Tycho has packed up his sombrero and gotten the hell out of their home (which was another major factor in this decision - I can't watch my Very First Child, Harley, live out his twilight years in exile because of the dog, and Nerfa, sweet loving Nerfa, doesn't deserve to be tormented by the Mad Macho Mexican either).
I hope my dog loving friends can forgive me for not being a dog person, much in the same way I have forgiven them for all the disparaging things they have inadvertently said to me about having children. (At least babies eventually grow up and learn to communicate in English and take care of their own elimination needs.) And I promise to post video when Tycho has learned to do a new cute dog thing, as I am certain he will under Aunt Donna's expert tutelage. Don't worry about the chihuahua folks, he's going to a much better place. And maybe someday, when Donna has moved on to her next great adventure and Delia is old enough to accept more dog responsibility (and Harley is chasing rodents in the Summerland, and I am on doctor approved medication), Tycho just might come back to live at Edgehill house. We shall see.