Oh Poor Mitch

I really have to get Mitch out more. That in itself is a challenge, because Mitch is a man of routine. I mean serious routine. His day consists of, get up go to work, come home eat lunch, do whatever chores he does, like laundry or ironing, feed and walk the dogs, eat dinner and go to bed. He is also antisocial for the most part, a hermit, he is perfectly happy sequestered in the house never talking to another soul as long as he can. As a severe form of torture, I make him to go the grocery store with me on Saturday morning. I talk to everyone, store employees and total strangers alike, eliciting comments from Mitch like, “Is there anyone you don’t know or won’t talk to?” To which I just smile back at him with an evil look and say hello to someone else. To make matters worse, since I have taken him with me for so long, now the store employees now talk to him too. Even the former store manager would ask where my partner in crime was on the rare occasion he didn’t go with me.

Every time we go to the store I always ask him if there is anything he would like to eat for the week, and I always get the same response.

“No I’m good.”

Can you imagine how frustrating is to buy good food and a variety too, when I always get, “No I’m good.”? It makes me want to pull my hair out. I finally got him to admit he wanted Milky Way fun size candy bars to snack on during day and that only took three years. He treats himself like he doesn’t deserve anything special. You would think he had taken a vow of poverty. This morning at the grocery store there was a sale on Keebler/Kelloggs offering all of their cookies and crackers for sale at half price. I asked Mitch if he would like something different from what we normally buy since everything was on sale. He stood there staring at all of the choices with a blank look on his face. I picked up a couple of boxes of crackers that I wanted to try and looked back at him to see what he wanted. He just stood there.

I asked what was wrong and he said, “Back in the day there was only Saltines and if you wanted something exotic you bought Ritz and you were happy. There weren’t all of these choices then.”

To which I laughed out loud and said, “You also had toilets out back and not in the house, back in the day, but isn’t it much better today?”

That’s when he got indignant and said, “That’s a totally different genre, not the same at all.”

I just shook my head and looked at him waiting for him to choose something; he finally acquiesced and picked a box of flatbread crackers. This is one of the reasons I drink.

It’s Time to Start Writing Again

I realized the other day that I hadn’t been writing since AJ died.  I had nothing to say.  Nothing funny or witty came to mind; I just felt this empty loss.  I guess I needed the time to get past his death.  I still miss him, but now I know that it was for the best for him.  No more pain.  I’m just sorry that I didn’t clue into his pain sooner.  That makes me sad that I didn’t see the signs, the growing rib cage, the slowing down and most of all not picking up on his refusal to eat with the usual gusto he had exhibited in the past.  Does that make me a bad pet owner?  I hope not.  But I hope that I will be a more aware pet owner for Charlie and Orso.

When a member of the family dies all you feel at first is the sorrow and pain of the loss of a dear loved one.  All of their faults are forgotten.  I could only think of how much I loved him, what a devoted dog he was and that I would never get to see or pet him again.  AJ wasn’t perfect, far from it in reality. 

He had severe separation anxiety issues that we could never overcome, even after ten years in a stable loving environment.  AJ was a consummate counter surfer, stealing and consuming multiple loaves of bread and many coffee cakes that were still in the baking dish.  How that glass pan survived multiple crashes to the floor is a testament to the strength of Pyrex.  He even broke into the pantry and ate his way through two loaves of bread, chocolate cake mix, taco shells, dry pasta and a bottle of Magic Shell in one scavenger attack.  He survived without getting sick, even though I would have felt some sense of justice if he had.

I can look back now and remember the carnage and mess and smile, but not then.  Mitch and I went through a period of trying everything we could think of to contain the dogs, with AJ as the ring leader, and keep the kitchen contents safe from theft and destruction.  The pantry doors will have to be replaced because of the scratches from AJ working to pull the doors open.  I can’t remember how many times AJ knocked over the trash can and dragged the bag out into the room and searched for something that might be tasty, leaving a nasty mess for us to clean up. 

AJ chewed his way through a pair of Mitch’s boots, a pair of my gloves, a pair of 360 ear muffs (my favorite ones of course) and a couple of my cookbooks over the years.  I don’t know if it was out of boredom or fear, but it was so frustrating on my part, looking at the destruction and the cost to repair or replace what was torn up.  We even tried kenneling him when we were gone.  There wasn’t a crate made that could hold him for long.  AJ had an uncanny ability for escape.  His nickname should have been Houdini.  First we tried a wire crate.  It took him maybe four hours to force the welds at the corners to pop and collapse the crate.  I’m only guessing at the four hours because that was how long I was gone.  After the failure of the wire crate we tried an airline crate, formed plastic with wire windows and door.  The door lasted three days before AJ had pushed against the hinge pins long and hard enough to bend the catches so the door would swing open.  Mitch tried to get creative and cut a door out of clear Lexan, drilled vent holes and hung it in place of the bent wire door.  That solution lasted one week.  Long enough for AJ to chew through the formed plastic base all the way across under the door, causing the door to just fall out.  Done, we were out of ideas on ways to lock up Houdini. 

What can you do with a dog that is that determined to be untethered with a myriad of phobias and bad habits?  The only option we had, love him and deal with the phobias and bad behavior on a day by day basis.  For all of the destruction and mayhem, I wouldn’t have missed one moment with AJ.

AJ How Could You?

This day started very early as all Sundays do.  We get up at 2:30 in the morning because Sunday is Mitch’s Monday and has to be at work at 4:30 in the morning.  I get up with him, feed the dogs, fix breakfast and take him to work. We started this routine years ago when we worked different schedules and this was the best way to get to spend as much time together as we could, snippets of time.  It has worked for us mainly because we like each other.  We like to spend our free time together.  Odd I know.  Anyway, I dropped him off at work came home and took the dogs for a nice long walk.  That’s one of the bonuses of Sunday, I don’t have to go to work so the dogs and I get to take a really long walk very early before anyone else is up.  It’s quiet and the only things I run into in the morning is deer and small critters.

After the walk, we curled up on the bed and the dogs napped while I read the newspaper and enjoyed my morning coffee.  The day looked like it would turn out nice, no storms as the weather service predicted.  I decided that we should go to the lawn and garden store and buy some herbs to pot.  I like to grow herbs and dry them.  It has worked out well so I decided to branch out and add more variety to the mix.  I take the dogs with me for company and they wait in the car barking and scaring anyone who walks past the car.  Plus when they are with me then they’re not getting into trouble at home.  Bonus.

I potted the herbs I bought and decided to plant the five pepper plants I bought too.  I thought that I would wait another week on the tomato plants but saw a Poblano pepper plant and haven’t tried that variety before so I snagged it.  Plus four more red pepper plants, I couldn’t help myself. 

The dogs were just hanging out sniffing stuff while I planted the pepper plants, I looked up and noticed no AJ.  He had wandered off.  I looked around to make sure he hadn’t gone over to the neighbors to poop in their yard, no sign of him there.  I looked up the hill and spotted him up under the Cedar tree. I called him to come down to me and as he got close I was sorry I had called him.  He stunk to high heaven.  He had dropped his head into something and mashed it all over his neck and side of his face.  Now I had to stop what I was doing, take AJ to the basement garage and bathe him.  And of course I had just put Frontline on the dogs this morning.  AJ how could you?  You’re supposed to be the good dog.

Rule Number One – Change the Batteries

Rule number one – when you buy batteries to replace the dead ones in the indoor shock collars for the dogs, it’s always a good idea to actually change them.  I bought the batteries for the collars the very next morning and as is always the case, I got busy multitasking and totally forgot to change out the dead for the freshly charged batteries.  We had dinner plans that night with my best friend and her significant other, who were in town only for the weekend, so I was busy trying to get everything done for the day and prod Mitch along. 

Mitch is busy working on our latest renovation project since the bathroom finally was finished.  The latest project is totally gutting the dining room and sheet rocking the room ceiling and walls and covering the hard wood floors with bamboo.  Mitch is not a social butterfly, hermit fits the description better, so getting him to stop the rehab and get cleaned up in a timely fashion, is like prodding a giant tortoise to walk faster.  Not going to happen.  So while I’m prodding, nagging and giving him the Look, I completely forgot to change out the batteries.  We go to dinner and have a great time, because once I finally get Mitch out of the cave and into the light, he opens up and enjoys himself.  He’ll even grudgingly admit it later, maybe.   

We get home to barking dogs waiting for me to open the door and once inside, I’m overwhelmed with the wave of destruction the dogs have waged on the kitchen.  In the living room an empty butter container that had housed an unopened pound of whipped butter that one or more dogs had taken from the kitchen table and consumed.  Yummy, eating a pound of butter.  I can’t wait to see which dog ate that.  Farther in the living was a plastic jar of honey or what was left of it.  The lid had been chewed off and the top of the jar had been chewed with about one quarter of the honey eaten.  I picked up the empty butter container, lid and the honey jar and walked into the kitchen to survey the damage waiting for me.  The recycle bin had been opened and contents strewn about.  Why, it’s not like anything in there was edible.

The trash can was knocked over again with trash all over the floor.  Orso also left a wonderful gift in the guest bathroom off the kitchen, he peed on the tile floor.  Lovely.  Surprisingly no one looked at all remorseful.  Imagine that.

The trashcan will now be removed and a smaller one will go under the sink.  God help me if they figure out how to open cabinet doors.  The butter and honey get put up higher, just like living with toddlers and the recycle container will be emptied more often and left outside when I’m gone. 

Oh yes and I am going to change the batteries in the collars right now.