Monday, October 21, 2013

Dogs And Guilt

It has been a dog day. A day of dogs. I washed my own dogs, the guilt of not doing it for so long washing over me like the warm water I used on them in my own beautiful bathtub. I washed them first with diluted Dr. Bronner's almond soap and then with oatmeal shampoo for dogs. I washed them, I dried them, they were fluffy and invigorated. Greta got a treat with the other two after their baths.
Dolly climbed up on Greta's bed and started gnawing her giant bone and growled when Greta wanted to take possession of her own things.
I tried to lay down for a nap. I had just fallen into sweet sleep when...the dogs...woke me up. Barking. Not Greta. My own stupid yappers.
I got up, I made coffee, I went out to the garden to weed. Buster began to bark. Bark and  bark and bark. I came in the house. He was barking at Greta. "Stop it! Just stop it!"
He did.
I went back out to the garden.
This happened again.
And again.
And again.
Mr. Moon called and I told him I was going mad. "Put Buster in the Glen Den," he said.
I did. He barked from there and scratched at the door.
I let him back out.

I finished the weeding. I put the water on the mustards, the collards, the arugula, the just-coming-up cilantro. Don't ask me why I'm planting cilantro but I am.
I made dinner. The dogs followed me around the kitchen. Food, they want food. They want attention, they want love and scraps and discipline and instructions and mostly food.

My dogs are fourteen, fifteen years old. How much longer can they last? They are small and could last another five years and I never take them to the vet unless something horrible (and yet, somehow never terminal) strikes them. Remember when Buster's ear swelled up like a pillow and had to be operated on and he was sent him with a quilted ear? Twice? Our dog Pearl lived to the be oldest surviving boxer on the planet. Fifteen years. Unheard of. She wandered the house in a daze of dementia before we finally did the right thing and put her down. Because I want so badly for them to be gone, I have too much guilt to have them killed.
Does that make sense to you?
Nor to me either.

A friend of mine's black lab has a cancer and he's in an expensive experimental study for treatment. Another friend who has cancer herself was just gifted a new dog. I shake my head. I know that some people love dogs. I know that some dogs are worth loving. They are smart and do not bark at the leaves moving on the trees. I look at those ads on TV about the poor abandoned animals, the mistreated, the cruelly suffering animals who just need a little money. A little money- it's like LOVE! Just a few pennies a day.
Guilt, guilt, guilt. The camera pans on the faces of these poor, mistreated dogs. My heart is supposed to break for them. Here's my guilty secret: it does not.

I would pay more than pennies a day for someone to come and get my dogs and take loving good care of them for the rest of their lives. I cannot truly say they DESERVE that but maybe they do. I think that trees are sentient beings. I have no doubt that dogs are too.
My dogs deserve better than me, I'll tell you that.

Well. A dog day. A dog's day. A dog's life.

At least today my dogs are clean. I washed them. Gently and well.

It didn't wash away my guilt. The guilt I have for not loving my dogs.

Jesus. It's things like this which make me wonder whether it's me that's crazy or the world we live in.

Probably both.

At least they're clean. My dogs are clean. My conscience most decidedly, is not.


  1. Like my little sister says, "I hear you barking, big dog."

  2. Tomorrow we will take my dog to the groomer, she is so overdue for a haircut that said groomer will think nasty thoughts as she does the job. She will ask did I trim her nails every month like she told me to, so they would become a more normal length once more- I did not nor did I hire someone to do so... My dog is not really a pet, more a client, and also training for the boys on how to be compassionate and considerate, since they don't practice these virtues on each other. But she does defend against all delivery men, so I guess she's not a total loss!

  3. I grew up with dogs. My daughter will one day be in a therapist's couch because we never gave in to her request for one. Or she'll get her own.

  4. I often prefer dogs over people. Seriously. I've never had a dog live past six years, in spite of my love and obsessive care over them. My black lab is my most loving companion so far. She's two and a half and hopefully lives longer than the last two dogs I had because I'll be devastated when she goes. Sigh. She's been in a weird funk since I got home from holidays, having kenneled her for twelve days, it's all I think about, how to cheer her up and make her tail pop up again.

    My cat? He's a whole other story, in spite of his mouse catching usefulness. He'll outlive us all because I can't stand him but needed a mouser.

    Life's just like that sometimes. ;)

  5. I like dogs in theory, but in person I'm a little afraid & put off by them. And my dad (being a former farm boy) does NOT believe that dogs are people. His live outside & still manage to have a pretty sweet life. I guess I've inherited his philosophy. I'd rather send money for starving children than dogs - although I also have violent feelings toward people who mistreat animals.

    All I can say now is that I'm glad we don't have any pets. And that I wish I had cilantro growing out back.

  6. Cilantro has happiness enzyme at least. Eat some.

    There's something I don't want to tell you...

  7. I am laughing though I shouldn't. You remind me of my mom and her and my dad's dog, Roxy.

    She hated Roxy. Roxy was insane and barked for hours on end. My mom would get so mad! She would go to the front door and yell for the entire neighdourhood to hear, "Roxy, shut up!". Blessed silence until she got back the the couch and she would start again. My mom eventually took to yelling at the dog from the house. t never worked. Roxy never stopped barking until we would put her in the garage with her huge basket and heater.

    But here ya go. I probably already gave you this link but it will make you laugh.

  8. First of all: You're planting coriander because you love Cozumel! Isn't coriander a big thing in Latin cooking? I think so.

    As for the dogs, well, you can't MAKE yourself love them, and god knows there are pain-in-the-neck dogs out there. My dog is not a barker and I can certainly see how a little barking would go a long way. The important thing is that you treat them well and you take care of them and you honor your obligation to them, which is so, so much more than so many people ever do.

  9. Elizabeth- Or as my friend Bill Wharton says, "Let the big dog eat."

    Big Mamabird- I have similar issues with my groomer.

    Angella- She can get her own dog and will thus learn why you did not have one.

    heartinhand- Quit taking your dog to the vet. She will live forever. I swear.

    Jo- Don't tell me you're getting another dog.

    Birdie- I feel so bad that your mother had to go through that. I would kill the dog on that video. With my bare angry hands.

    Steve Reed- Thank you. I mean it. That made me feel a little better. At least I don't beat them.

  10. Ms. Moon, It was kind of funny because when she was actively dying and stoned on marajuana peanut butter toast that my dad gave her she would talk about Roxy and how much she "loved that dog". lol

  11. Birdie- Dear god. She MUST have been stoned.

  12. I have to say that I prefer dogs to most people. And I cannot watch those ads on TV or any part of TV about hurt animals. I do love our dogs and the cats as well. They each have their own little personalities. And they love us too. I'm glad that you do treat your dogs well, even if you don't love them. They get fed and bathed. That's really good when you think about how many are mistreated and abused.


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