Growing up, I never had a pet aside from my brother’s various mice and gerbils, but I don’t count them because A) they weren’t mine and B) they didn’t do much except sleep all day and run in their squeaky wheel all night (and, no, the ‘squeaky wheel getting the grease’ adage is not lost on me and, yes, my brother did try to ‘grease’ it but it never worked very well.) I’m pretty sure we weren’t allowed to have a cat or dog not because, as we were told, we wouldn’t take care of it but because my father would not have survived the unpredictability of an animal roaming free in the house. He’s extraordinarily structured (“I’m a creature of habit, ok?!”) so if a box of cereal was put back in the cabinet facing the wrong way, we all heard about it. In hindsight, I’m sure we were much better off not having a pet because it would have just given him more fuel to scream about nothing. (“Jesus H.P.Q. Christ, who left a Goddamned hairball on the living room floor?!?!?” “That was Mittens, dad. Mittens left it there.”)
As soon as possible, I got a dog. When my husband and I were first married, we lived in a couple of apartments that didn’t allow pets, but as soon as we were able, we adopted a dog and named him Owen. Owen was awesome, but was also an unbelievable pain in the ass. Here, in no particular order, is a list of some of the things he ate that he shouldn’t have:
- Reese’s Peanut Butter cups — On Halloween, just two months after we adopted him, we spent the night at the animal hospital while they put morphine drops in Owen’s eyes trying to make him puke up the candy we thought we had put far out of his reach. If he didn’t get it out of his stomach on his own, they would have to perform surgery (for about $2000) or he was in danger of his stomach flipping. Lucky fur us, he finally puked.
- a four pound bucket of mini Swedish fish — For Christmas one year, my husband’s stepmother gave my husband a huge container of Swedish fish (because Swedish fish are awesome and so is my husband’s stepmother) that Owen ate. He ate it all. The whole container. Initially, my husband was more upset about the Swedish fish being gone until Owen started throwing it up and then re-eating the pile of Swedish fish throw up because dogs are disgusting creatures of filth. Then the focus was on getting Owen outside to puke, get him back inside so he couldn’t eat the puke, and wash the quickly freezing candy puke off the bricks of the patio with large pans filled with hot water. Merry Christmas!!
- our basement door — Owen was never able to be kennel trained so when we moved with him from our condo to our house, we determined that he’d stay in the basement when we had to leave him alone in the house. The first time we tried this, we went out for an hour or two and came home to his head sticking through what looked like a large, mouse-hole-shaped hole in the basement door (like when cartoon mice live in the upside down “U” in the baseboard – it looked just like that.)
- sheet metal used to cover the hole chewed through our basement door — Not to be outwitted by a dog and determined to make the basement his lair, we fastened sheet metal over the bottom half of the door to cover the hole he had chewed. Didn’t work and we gave up on our doggie basement dreams.
- diaper cream — He ate the whole tube. The vet gave him something with charcoal in it to absorb any poisons he may have ingested, but we were never able to remove the charcoal puke stains from our wall-to-wall carpet.
- five pounds of raw steak — Apparently our refrigerator door was not 100% closed when Owen got into it and ate a family-sized package of steak tips. As my husband left to buy more steak to grill for our guests who were on their way to our house, Owen proceeded to crap all five pounds of the raw steak into a massive runny pile on the living room floor. I vividly remember using excessive amounts of paper towel while gagging the entire time I cleaned it up.
There are many more Owen stories to share, but I’ll have to save them for another post. And I’m aware of how easy it is to assume that we were the worst dog owners in the universe to let him get into all these things, but if you ever saw the way we rearranged our house every time we left him alone in an attempt to keep him from getting into the trash, having access to any food (especially chocolate), destroying furniture, etc. you’d know that he most definitely wasn’t neglected. And we miss him. (Even the annoying parts of him.)