Do you ever avoid thinking about something because it’s so painful? I’ve avoided half of my Flickr feed for a year now, because the majority of the time I can’t look at Tipper’s face and not cry. I can’t believe it’s been a year since she left. So much has happened that she hasn’t been a part of, so much of me has changed that she hasn’t seen. She was my party, my fun, my amusement, my lovely little orange monster. And now she’s someone else’s.
I think about her every day. The pain isn’t as sharp as it was but every once in awhile I look around and think “something’s missing” and I realize Tipper isn’t here. She’s not barking at the door, she’s not herding me across the kitchen, she hasn’t even been in this house and she never ever will be. I’ll never get to pet her ridiculous satellite ears again. I’ll never cuddle up under a blanket and have her land on top of me, ready for snuggles. I don’t regret giving her away. I just regret not having her in my life.
I’m sick of telling people I’m sad and having them say “Oh well she’s happy where she is, right? And you have Jabber and you wouldn’t have him!” I can be sad about losing my dog and still want her where she is. And no, Jabber is not the equivalent of Tipper. He’s a wonderful dog and I love having him but I didn’t get him as a replacement and he’s not. Telling me those things just makes me feel like I no longer have the right to be sad and it’s isolating and results in me waking up at 4:30 to post on a blog that I haven’t come to in over a year because the sense of failure is overwhelming and I have literally no one to talk to that understands.
God, I miss my dog. May you have a million more adventures my Monster, make sure you bark loudly at every one.
Tipper has to go to a new place with new people, because I can’t keep her safe. I thought that knowing we had run out of options with Mu and Tipper, that truly believing there was nothing else we could do to help them get along would make re-homing her easier. It doesn’t. Not even a little bit. I wish it did because I’ve been coming to terms with it for three weeks and I still cried myself to sleep last night. I can’t do this. I function on day to day basis but every time I come home and play with Tipper, and snuggle her, and tell her what a good dog she is there’s another tear in my heart. I just. Can’t. I can’t explain what this is doing to me. I wish things were different in a thousand ways. I wish I could not see how this is the only way. I just want to keep my dog. I’m having nightmares about dog fights, I’m anxious every time I open a gate or a door, I constantly check to see where one dog is before I move the other. I can’t live like this and I have no choice. I refuse to pass the burden of my failure onto someone else, and I refuse to uproot Tipper into a foster home when she will end up in a new home soon enough anyways.
And I hate that no one cares. I thought I had friends, I thought that there would be someone I could talk to about this but…there isn’t. There’s nothing. I’m having a very hard time functioning as a living being. I can go through the motions and in the moment I can be happy, or sad, or angry, but when the moment is done I feel empty. All I can do is cry and wish things were different and hate myself for everything.
Only a five month gap between posts. That’s…not so bad right?
Between the last post and this post two things happened. 1) We had a bad fight. Really bad. Bad enough that I spent several days fighting off tears and thinking about who I could trust to live with my precious orange monster. 2) I put Mu on happy pills.
Let me clarify the “badness” of this fight. It wasn’t bad in that a dog was severely injured or killed. It was bad in that I learned just how willing our dogs are to tear shit apart to tear each other apart. We have a baby gate that separates the kitchen from the living room. It’s very tall, it’s made of metal, and it’s very sturdy. Mu dragged Tipper (I’m sure Tipper was pushing forwards which helped) through the gate and proceeded to puncture the shit out of her. Tipper had a hole through her ear. She had holes poked in her neck. She had to go to the vet and get shaved and cleaned and sad. She spent more time being quiet and calm on the sofa than I’ve ever seen before. Every time I sat down she tried to climb inside me. She broke my heart.
Tipper’s fine now. She’s healed up and back to her normal sassery. But the only reason our current set up works is because of that gate. If I can’t trust that the girls will not go through that gate to get to each other I can’t keep both of them. Our crate and rotate situation is really more of a baby gate and rotate situation. Matt and I both work full time and the girls are in crates all day while we’re gone. I cannot, *cannot*, justify putting them back in crates while we’re home. So. We headed back to the vet, Mu in tow. Which was a whole new level of suck because the last time she was at the vet was when her paw was punctured. And that was awful and very traumatizing for her and set us back about a year in terms of how much she likes the vet (read: not at all). But, we walked out of there with a month’s supply of amitriptyline and some optimism buried under heaps of pessimism and cynicism.
I’ve very strongly resisted putting either dog on drugs. I worried that they would change the personality of my dog, that they would take out the edge that I love so much about them. And now? Now I’m kicking myself for not doing this sooner. All drugs did for my dog was make it so she could relax. I worried at first because she was curling up to sleep instead of doing busy Mu things. But then I realized that she was able to curl up to sleep because she wasn’t alerting to every single thing that happened. Because her stress levels were down. She’s still my darling, evil, brainiac dog but now she’s not strung tight all the time. It’s nice for me and it’s got to be nice for her.
So, to wrap up what feels like a very rambly blog post, things are…okay. For now. I’m hoping we can do some more behavioral mod stuff because I think Mu will respond very well. And, if my parents end up having room in their house it’s very likely that Tipper will go there. Because they adore her, and Max adores her, and while I would hate it and miss her like a limb it’s what would be best for her. We’ll see what happens I guess.
Apparently, if you don’t run your dogs for three days and then make a bunch of kissy noises to get your baby to look at the camera your dog will very likely run over and try to french kiss you.
This dog, she is crazy. And I suffered horribly for these next pictures due to the aforementioned lack of exercise. Tipper ran around me in circles barking her face off and Mu kept running off looking for a tennis ball.
And now I have to go exercise my dogs before Mu actually develops the ability to bore holes in me with her eyes.
Because while I like to pretend otherwise, the arrival of this little chunk of adorable has dictated crate and rotate for the other girls in my life. Say hello to the baby! Henceforth to be known as Zoot, because I’m okay with having her real name on Chaz, but not on the blog. No it doesn’t make sense but I make the rules dammit.
This was not an easy decision. I would love to believe that Mu is going to get more relaxed and become less of a jackass as she ages, but in reality the opposite is proving true. And I wish that Tipper would become more forgiving and more inclined to be all “Hey Mu, you’re being a bit of a twat, are you sad today? Do you wanna hug it out? LET’S USE OUR WORDS.” Because we all know that Tipper likes to use her words in true corgi style, as loud as she can, as often as possible.
In the end I had to have a true and honest conversation with myself. It went something like this.
Self: Do you feel comfortable having both girls out around the baby?
….not really. I mean they get along most of the time, but their fights are pretty serious and they don’t much care who’s in the middle.
Self: Yeah I see your point. But they’ll be able to be out together when Zoot is bigger so this is just temporary!
Well…about that. The baby will get bigger at some point, this is true. But she’s also going to get mobile. And a mobile baby plus two dogs that could erupt into violence at any given time seems like a bad idea.
Self: Oh. Well what do you think the odds are that’ll happen?
Do I look like a fucking calculator? Ask real questions or get out of this conversation. Geez.
Self: Well have fun with a conversation by yourself then!
Self: Are you done sulking? Because I still have questions.
God, I guess. What?
Self: What’s the worst thing that could happen? Are you really going to consign all of you to a life of crate and rotate? Do you think that’s fair?
The worst possible scenario I can imagine? The girls killing the baby. Second worst? The girls killing each other. Third worst and most likely? The baby getting in the middle of a fight and getting bit, whereupon she’d probably need reconstructive surgery, I’d have to face the possibility of re-homing or euthanizing one of the girls, I would be wracked with guilt, and probably broken for a really long time. I think in light of that very real scenario I can find a way to make crate and rotate work. Is it fair? I don’t know. I struggle with that question all the time. Keeping Mu is absolutely fair. She is mine, I am hers, and we need each other. She needs a special place and she will have that with me as long as I live. Tipper though, is much harder. Aside from her exercise requirements she could be happy in almost any home. She is the lovable, affable, adorable clown. And I can’t give her up for those exact reasons. I can’t imagine a life without either of them so we’re stuck here, in this life, doing crate and rotate.
Self: Ask a simple question, get a horribly depressing monologue. Thanks?
On the plus side, the girls are doing really well with crate and rotate. We got a gate for the doorway between our living room and kitchen so it’s not a true crate and rotate. And we are lucky in that the girls don’t actually want to kill each other – they could have done so at any point up til now and we do still have them out together under certain circumstances. We feed everyone together, and we are able to switch them in/out without having to crate. And on one memorable day, Matt accidentally threw them outside together for at least half an hour (because he doesn’t pay attention). They are heavily reinforced for proper behavior in those circumstances.
And in the plus plus plus category, ALL of the dogs are fantastic with the baby. Really, utterly, fantastic. I can’t get over how adaptable they’ve been and how wonderful they are. I never worried about Murphy – his default reaction to irritating children has always been a disdainful look, followed by a retreat to a safe spot. The most interest he shows in the baby is a quick entry inspection (“You brought this back with you? I told you where the pound was!”).
Mu and Tipper had a harder time at first. Zoot sounded EXACTLY like a squeaky toy when we brought her home. And because she was bundled up like a sausage Mu was convinced we had brought her some kind of delicious prey animal. Unwrapping her and proving that she was a tiny human helped, but what really helped was time. After about two weeks had gone by Mu didn’t even care about her. She loves licking any bits she can reach, but I think that she mostly sees the baby as an extension of me. Which is exactly as I intended.
Tipper spent the first couple of months being very very skittish around the baby. I don’t think she’s ever been around a very small baby before and it Freaked. Her. Out. She’s fantastic with her now though. She gives her small little Tipper kisses and brings us tennis balls and dinosaur tug toys.
So, for the foreseeable future, this will be our life. It’s going to get more complicated when the weather turns, but I have some ideas for that. The girls are happy, Murphy is happy, Zoot is happy, Matt is happy, and me? I’m thrilled. I love how our life is turning out, I love having a kid, I love having dogs that are so incredibly amazing and loving. Sometimes it’s hard but I can’t regret anything when it brings so much muchness into our life.
Having spent considerable time trying to sort through the insane amount of old pictures I have, I came out the other side feeling really sad. For the first 8 months of Tipper living here I have pictures of Mu and Tipper, tugging, fetching, cuddling, and sleeping together. I regret that I didn’t appreciate that time in our lives more. I don’t know if things would have changed between them regardless (I suspect some of it had to do with Mu hitting maturity so it’s likely something would have changed) but I really wish I had paid more attention. And I really really wish I’d asked for help sooner than I did. We might’ve had a shot at getting some of the original relationship back if I hadn’t been so stubborn and scared.
I think the guilt is worse today because this question came up on one of my forums: If you knew then what you know now would you pick your dog all over again? And my brain went Murphy – yes, Mu – yes, Tipper – …….. I don’t know. Not because she’s a hard dog to live with, because she’s the opposite. She is the kind of dog that could be happy in any decent loving home.
I adore her, but sometimes I feel like I’m being stupid and selfish keeping her here with us. I wish we could get a playmate for her, I wish Murph was a couple years younger so he would play with her, I wish Mu would calm down and relax and play again…but odds are that none of those things will happen. So I’m stuck here, loving her and loving Mu and feeling like I’m doing both of them a disservice. But I’m not giving either of them up and (despite how this reads) I haven’t fully given up hope that we can have some of the old back.
It helps my hopefulness that there is currently a small black dog sleeping on my feet while the small orange dog sleeps right in front of the sofa. They’ve been out together for 2-4+ hours every single day over the last couple weeks. Including over the full moon, with no issues. We’re well past the 1 month mark with no bloodshed and hopefully it will continue. Of course in about two months everything in our lives is going to change completely – so I’m going to make a point of enjoying every day of peace that we have and just hope that we can be flexible enough to deal with the next adventure.
Well. A loooot has happened in the last almost six months. Greta has gone to a fantabulous new home, with a mom and dad that adore her and a big brother that tolerates her. I see updates on Facebook every so often and I got to see her recently at a bully walk. It was hard to tell if she remembered us – she goes wiggly butt on all humans – but she definitely remembered Tipper. And Tipper definitely remembered her. It was very cute.
Part of the reason I disappeared is because we weren’t having dog fights for a fair stretch of time – and then all of a sudden we had three in quick succession, all started by Tipper. In the whole history of ever, Tipper has never started a fight. She is quite excellent at finishing fights, but she does not start them. So when she jumped all over Mu the first time I was confused but not overly upset. The second time I was confused and upset. And the third time I started freaking out. To complicate matters Tipper punctured herself on an unknown entity in the backyard and got put on antibiotics, pain meds, and crate rest for a week. When she showed no signs of being less angry we took her in for a full check up – blood panels, and physicals, and pee tests ohmy. Turns out that on top of the puncture she had a UTI. Another round of antibiotics later and we had our lovely non-fight starting Tipper McGee back. Lesson? If Tipper is acting like a jackass vet her immediately. Immediately!
The other part of the disappearing reason is that we are adding a human member to our family in the Spring. And I was tired and cranky and very very boring for quite awhile. Mu is still in her weaves class but it’s on hold until the first week of February. Luckily someone has offered to run her for me – I could probably run if my life depended on it but it’s really not fun (or remotely comfortable). I’m really grateful that we have someone I trust to help out. Mu goes a bit mad when she’s not in a class and I’d like to delay that for as long as possible. I signed Tipper up for a Rally class. I’m not sure we’ll make it all the way through the class – it ends the week before my due date – but I’ve been wanting to do Rally for-ev-er and I’m not willing to wait until the next one comes around. Murph is just being a Murph dog. He lounges and he bounces and he chases Tipper and he does Murphy things. We had a bit of a scare a couple months ago when he came up lame after a visit to my parent’s house. After a vet visit with xrays we found out that he has just the very beginnings of arthritis in his wonky leg. I’m not overly surprised – I’ve been amazed at how well he’s aged actually. And the vet said that for a 9 year old dog with his structure she was very impressed with his movement. So he’s on a supplement and is doing much better.
And that’s pretty much everything that’s happening in the Team Short Legs house. The girls are getting along very well and we’re working hard on things that we’ll need when the baby gets here. Hopefully (now that I’ve remembered I have a blog) I’ll remember to update a bit more regularly. Until then I leave you with this awesome picture of the girls sharing the sofa I took a couple weeks ago.