January 3, 2015

Tail Tucked

"So what exactly is the problem with the dog?"
"Well, she keeps pooping in the house, won't stop barking when she's outside, wants to lick our faces all the time and is super hyper."
"So...she's acting like a dog?"
"Yes."

We had to admit defeat today and report ourselves as bad dog owners.  Poor Pumpkin was returned to the animal shelter after a few months of frantic pooping, licking and loving us to insane amounts.  I admit I always thought I was a dog person.  I had grown up with a dog and still get weepy at the thought of her death.  That dog was my family as much as any of my other eight siblings.  So now that our kids are older, we decided to jump in last February and do the dog thing for the same great experience. But two attempts later, the problem is clear.

This afternoon we scooped up sweet, adoring Pumpkin and took the drive of shame to the Henderson Animal Shelter.  When we stepped inside she was already trembling and her licking reflex in overdrive.  The hipster behind the counter gave me a dry look but I steeled myself and robotically walked forward.  I was doing a good thing.  I was getting a dog out of a home that didn't love her.   The girls and Spike had both begged me to return her. She would find a better home.  She would find people who's hearts melted at her gaze and let her sleep nestled into their bosoms during the night.  I could be giving her away on Craistlist or selling her to the Asian diner down the road, but I chose the responsible path of admitting defeat and leaving her in a safe harbor.  This is what I told myself as I walked up to the counter.

Seven year old Cher insisted on coming with me.  I was hesitant at first because I didn't want her to break down sobbing like I did when we surrendered our first dog this past summer.  But she was adamant that she thought returning the dog was the right thing so I brought her along for moral support.  As I stood at the counter filling out the form with my reasons for surrendering Pumpkin, Cher sat behind me with her eyes getting bigger and wetter.  Her arms were latched around Pumpkins' neck and despite her best efforts to be strong, a fat tear plopped into the red fur.  I knew we had to get out quick before the wailing began but the hipster was in no hurry to let us escape our shame and wielded the exquisite torture mechanism of paperwork.

The form asked for the reasons we were surrendering the dog.  There were all sorts of boxes about possible aggression, medical conditions, potty training, cooperation with kids and other pets, etc. There were no boxes I could check to admit that I was just a lousy human being who didn't want to spend any extra emotional energy cleaning poop off my guest room floor or wrestling dirty underwear from our dog's mouth.  No box where I could check that I got a sick feeling in my stomach when the dog tried to lick my face in affection.  And definitely not a line where I could describe how her big, unblinking eyes creeped me out when they stared at me through the gate every day when I came home from errands.

So when he asked, "So...she's acting like a dog?" I answered, "Yes.  And we're just really bad owners and will be taking a break from pet-ownership for a while."  The hipster nodded his head curtly in agreement and tried his best not to look me in the eye, a grimace plain under his attractive facial hair.
An eternity later, a woman came to escort Pumpkin back to the kennel.  Char was holding her breath trying not to lose it and turning a sickly shade of green. The minute Pumpkin was out of our jurisdiction, I grabbed Char and ran to the car.  Her wails began the instant her door slammed.  They renewed tonight when I brought out a treat for the kids before bed, homemade pumpkin bread.  Whoops.

So if anyone has a Tamagotchi they are no longer able to care for, we're scaling back a few levels and ready to offer it penitent shelter.  Or a pet rock.  But if you're not comfortable with even that, we get it.  We're monsters.
Pumpkin at the shelter the day we adopter her

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