I am by no means new to the hair-covered, slobbery-sticky world of dog ownership.
I grew up with a ridiculously big Golden Retriever, who was my parents’ first child. When I was ten, and he was gone, we got Sandy, another Golden. She was with us until I was 20. By then I was dating someone whose father raised and trained English Pointers, sometimes more than 30 at a time. I saw countless births, deaths, training methods, and mishaps. (I once witnessed a dog run around a pigeon coop until the pads of its feet were raw and bloody. It was an interesting lesson in passion.) I have watched my father train and work two German Wire Haired Pointers, or in his words, “Nazi dogs from Hell,” in addition to the countless labs and pointers of his friends. My grandparents had a Vizsla, my uncle had a Weimaraner, and I am blessed with plenty of friends with varieties of dogs.
But when I was 21 I found Miko, a Husky / German Shepherd mix at the local shelter. She was the first dog I purchased and solely owned. I would have her for 12 years, during which I would drag her through my life – college, grad school, relationships, a marriage, and countless moves. And for the back half of those years I would tell people how easy she was to train. How she was the perfect dog.
This is kind of true.
Someone once said that happiness is health and a short memory. Albert Schweitzer perhaps?
It’s true that Miko was protective without being aggressive, lazy without being lethargic, and snuggly without being needy. But it’s also true that there were times I would come home to find a steamy, smelly pile on the living room floor. But I blamed myself. Perhaps I was gone too long? Miko also had a passion for one corner of my current boyfriend’s basement. She was compelled to mark it over and over with her unrealistically strong smelling pee. But it was the fault of another dog that MUST have marked there in the past. Right?
Enter Nala. Eight months old and full of energy (eventually also full of toy stuffing and cat turds from the back yard). And with each rip of a sock or violent tug of a leash, my memory started to serve me more accurately.
What was Miko really like as a puppy?
- She dug a hole in my mother’s carpet one evening out of boredom.
- She would run from me and never look back (Husky remember)
- She HATED car rides and would pant to the point of drooling all over the dash
- She would panic at the very mention of “bath”… that one never went away
- She was afraid of bridges (no kidding) and when we drove under them she would panic and try to get in my lap, which made driving less than safe.
- She once attacked a friend’s dog because it tried to exist within a five foot radius of her food dish
- Every time we moved she would poop in the place the first night… never failed. Also never went away.
- She was TERRIFIED of storms and would keep me up all night when one came through. I eventually started drugging her, which is the only reason that one went away.
Yes, I have been around dogs for each of the 33 years of my life. I have owned dogs, but not this dog. And Nala is, in fact, a dog. She wants to run, she is going to bark, and if the mood strikes her, she is going to eat my kindle charger.
This is what I signed up for.