Time for an update on my adopted Mexi-mutt, Lulu. Not much to say really, unless you count my entire life upending, my bank account being rapidly laid to waste, and my playing second fiddle to my husband’s girlfriend.
The perils of pet ownership at the best of times have been lightly likened to those of parenting. The closest I’ve come to that mess is training husbands. I took the first one as far as I could then left him in the capable hands of his next wife for fine tuning. The second is a work in progress as you all know, but I must say he does particularly well with the stay and fetch commands. Now not for a moment am I comparing men to dogs, I’m merely making a statement about the level of experience I have working with sentient creatures in my home.
This Lulu business is an entirely different kettle of kibble. What cannot be denied is my love for her. I mean just look at her…
She’s a darling companion who does her business outside, sleeps through the night, and neither chews nor destroys anything in my home. She wants nothing beyond smelly wet dog food and ’round the clock body contact. That’s seven eighths of the battle won.
However, and there is always a however, right? Lulu has been officially diagnosed with a health problem by two of the finest minds in the land: one, a psychiatrist of some repute, the other, a highly recommended vet, Dr. Eva. The disorder’s name? Separation anxiety. The root cause? Previous trauma and a man named Neil. Turns out the very reason we thought we’d be good for a dog—Neil working from home—is the same reason for her new name: Ankle Magnet.
If Neil leaves the house she goes on high alert, whimpers, then descends into petulant melancholy complete with occasional mournful howling. No amount of soothing from me will do. I could be covered in meat and she’d still ignore me, yet a faint whisper from the man brings her racing forward like some sort of super dog. Feminist of the year she is not.
We’ve done it all to fix this: rigorous exercise, pheromones, herbal supplements, treat filled puzzle toys, music, a therapeutic sweater thing called a Thundershirt, and timed absences with video recordings of her behaviours. It’s just sad to see her splayed out by the door, absolutely bereft with her head buried is one of Neil’s ratty sneakers. She must have picked that up from me.
Despite the investment of time (and not a small amount of money), I brought her to the vet as clearly daily sessions on the couch with a washed up shrink were not cutting it. The doc was very clear: “It’s time to try some medication. Oh and get rid of Neil.” “Tempting,” I said, “but he cooks.” She understood my dilemma very well as she also suffers from kitchenophobia, and in the end it was decided that sending Lulu to a dog sitter one day a week was the way to diminish Big Red’s animal magnetism.
So, I now have to pay for meds and someone to babysit a dog despite having a perfectly good husband at home most of the day. Nothing to do but laugh. I’m broke, can’t leave my house for more than 15 minutes at a time, never mind the indignity of snooty disdain from a creature who licks her own butt. Christ all friggin’ mighty, I’m the one who needs pills. Next thing Neil will be ignoring all my commands. Or worse, throwing liver treats at me and rubbing my belly, exclaiming, “Good girl!” I hope they can both fit in the doghouse.