Sunday, January 26, 2014

Something's Off

We need a new dog on the farm. In our family. I was going to wait until after we got back from Florida. The main reason we don’t go away as much as we’d like to is because of the animals. I should say as much as Kurt would like to. My idea of a vacation is to sleep until I wake up. Just wake up whenever I’m done sleeping. No alarm clocks. No shaking me. Then when I finally do open my eyes, don’t get out of my pajamas and have somebody bring me coffee and food, preferably spaghetti, eat, and then go back to sleep. That’s my idea of a vacation. But Kurt and the kid prefer more traditional venues like Disneyworld plus my father abandoned me for all the good weather down there so I’ve got to go.

It’s really hard getting away when you have animals. That’s one of the reasons why I don’t like going away. I get the horse sitter to come twice a day and she’ll fill up the barn cats’ food and go inside and take care of the house cats but I can’t leave a dog alone all day and all night with only two visits from someone. Dogs don’t like to be alone. They’re pack animals. Even if I had two dogs, which we usually do, and they had each other for company, they still have to go to the bathroom more than twice a day in a twenty-four hour period. So I bring the dog(s) to a dog sitter and that can run into big bucks and then on top of it, I always feel guilty because my dogs are not really thrilled about it. Vixen used to give us the cold shoulder when we returned and the last time we went away, poor Motley was traumatized by the dog sitter’s dogs. Even though they are all very nice dogs and they are used to other dogs coming and going because that’s what this lady does for a living. I shouldn’t say he was traumatized by her dogs, plural. It was one dog in particular. A sweet and friendly Great Dane named Daisy. But Motley was scared of her. He couldn’t figure her out because she was as big as our pony but she wasn’t a pony. He knew there was something off about her.

I don’t know if it was the pony-like dog or what, but Motley wasn’t himself when we picked him up and I don’t think he was himself while he was there either because the dog sitter didn’t rave about him like people usually did. Everyone loved Motley. Even the mailman told me that if I ever needed a home for him, he would love to have him. I used to be afraid that people were going to steal him if I turned my back. That’s how nice he was. So I expected the dog sitter to report how impressed she was, how he was the best dog she’d ever taken care of. But she didn’t say squat. I was kind of insulted by her lack of accolades. It was like making someone a gourmet dinner with ingredients you had to search high and low for, exotic this and organic that, and setting up your computer with the recipe on it right on the counter next to the coffee pot so you can follow it to a T and everything looks fabulous, it looks like something out of Bon App├ętit magazine, and no one says, “Yum, this is good.”

At any rate, Motley wasn’t himself when we picked him up and in fact, he was never himself again. He was quieter. He started aging fast and we found ourselves cooing, “You good old dog,” and then we’d hit our foreheads and say, “Wait! He’s not old!” He was seven or eight. In the summer, he started panting more than I thought was right. Everyone said, “Oh, it’s hot,” but I knew something was wrong. When I took him to the vet, we found out he had kidney failure. We never found out what caused it. By Christmas, he was dead.

I can’t help wondering if it had something to do with the vaccines the dog sitter required. I didn’t want to do it. I’m not against vaccines. But I think we give too many of them too often and I’ve cut back on the number of vaccines I give to both my animals and my children. The dog sitter was actually on the same page as me about that and she was going to let me slip by with just the kennel cough shot since he had had the whole series about two years ago. But when I was in the vet’s office and the vet asked me if I wanted to do them all, I thought, ah, give them to him. I was scared when I did them and scared when I didn’t. I’ll always wonder if those shots had something to do with it because he was perfectly fine before that. Maybe, with his compromised organs from having the parvo as a puppy, all those shots put him over the edge. I don’t know…

Now it’ll be even harder to go away because I’m not going to put my dogs in any kind of a boarding situation if it means I have to give them vaccines I don’t think is in their best interest. I’m going to have to find someone to stay at the house. That’s not going to be easy. Or cheap. So we were going to wait before we got another dog, do the Florida thing first. But I can’t stop crying. I never cried this much over a dog. It has nothing to do with the fact that I held Motley when we put him to sleep. I held Vixen too and I didn’t cry over her this much. I’m crying over Motley about as much as I cried over my mother! It’s embarrassing! It’s a dog!

Maybe it was because he was by my side practically every waking minute. I went out to take care of the horses, he came out with me. I went back in, he came back in. I went into the bathroom, he padded after me. All through the house, he quietly followed and was always there, sleeping next to the bed (I had to watch when I got up in the morning that I didn’t step on him), under the kitchen table, lying next to the couch, not making a peep except for the thump of his tail if I looked in his direction. I go out now to feed the horses and I feel like I forgot something. I open the door to the house and expect Motley to come barreling out and there’s nothing. It’s like my arm was cut off. Yeah, I’m still functioning with what I have left. But I’m all discombobulated like there’s a pony but it’s not a pony. Something’s off.

So I need another one ASAP. Of course no dog will take Motley’s place. How many best-dog-evers are there? But I know I will feel better if I have another dog to love, especially if I can find one who needs a home. I’ve got to do something with all this dog love that has no place to go right now.