After several incredibly rough nights of crying over the likelihood that we’d have to give him back, we may have turned a corner with Mosley. Everyone I talk to seems to think that I should just chill out, that I’m somehow unprepared to have a dog, despite having grown up with a dog (me) and spent an entire upbringing and early adult life with a dog (Andrew). Sure, y’all. You chill out when a 40lb animal is barking in your house all night, every night. I don’t care how many dogs you’ve raised; when one of them barks at full voice all night, every night, your cats are hiding under the bed, and you haven’t slept in days, you are not in a “normal” situation that can be solved with “patience and time” or with (more) treats or (more) assertive training behavior. You are in a mess.
So we asked for help.
Unfortunately, I had the poor judgment to mention Xanax as a possible short-term solution to Mosley’s severe separation anxiety, which kicks in whenever I leave a room. Because there is dog Xanax, and this is precisely what it was made for and is used, regularly and safely, to treat. Clearly this is a great reason for the vet we’ve been taking our cats to for six years to be obnoxiously condescending. I think at one point she may have said, “Maybe this dog just isn’t for you.” No shit? I hadn’t thought of that possibility at all, every single night when the barking started. Thanks for the news. Now how about you fucking help me through the damn barking so that I can continue to work with the dog, who clearly wants to be my dog, seeing how he’s never bonded closely with another human (as far as the rescue organization knows) and he won’t let me out of his sight? Perhaps I’m unduly pissed about this. But why the hell would I be asking you for help if I wasn’t committed to keeping and continuing to work with the animal? It’s not his fault that he’s freaking out, and it’s not enjoyable for him or anyone else.
Fortunately, after the lecture, the vet offered a homeopathic solution, an amino acid supplement that calms dog anxiety. Chicken-flavored and chewable! But you can only have it if you feel sufficiently guilty for having requested information about a drug that thousands of people administer to their anxious dogs every day.
So that stuff seems to have helped. And we made a compromise: Mose doesn’t have to be crated if he’ll consent to being closed in the library, where his crate is located. We also popped him a Benadryl, in part to help him sleep, but also because the poor guy is covered with mosquito bites from an ill-advised stint hiding out under our deck steps the day we got him. Shortly after we gave him the supplement with his dinner, he seemed a little bit stoned. But, then, the city had just fogged for mosquitoes, and the windows were open, and we all felt a little stoned. He more or less slept through the night (some whining at first, but not too much), and judging by his energy level this morning, he is, um, perfectly fine.
I have to admit, I don’t get the compulsion a lot (say, 40%) of dog people seem to feel to 1) offer advice where none has been solicited and 2) to be ridiculously condescending when advice is solicited. While most of my friends–and pretty much all the ones I actually know in person–have been thoughtful and helpful, I’m a little flabbergasted by the tendency of others to say things even a child knows, like that you have to present yourself with authority around a pack animal so he thinks you’re the alpha, to two people with terminal degrees who teach research writing. No? You don’t say? Give him treats? We never thought of that, and certainly haven’t tried it 40 times already. Or, you know, that it takes work. (I’ve taught this dog “stay” and “come” in a matter of two days. I’ve already habituated him to two good peeing spots and one for pooping. He hasn’t left my side in five days. I think I’m aware of the work part.) Because, duh, we looked shit up before we brought a dog into our house.
I haven’t fully pieced together what I’m trying to get at, but it has something to do with the fact that none of the cat people I know exhibit this particular kind of condescension, and cats are leaps and bounds smarter than most dogs. They’re more complex, individual, and resistant to training. Yet we do train them, and habituate them to our lives and our environments, and that works out fine. So do cat people just trust other cat people to not be idiots? Or are there that many idiots who are dog people and have to be told the most obvious shit in the world, as though they are incapable of basic information collection and reasoning? I mean, do 40% of dog people assume that they are the only people in the world with access to Google?
Perhaps I’m overstating the point. This is the first day I’ve been allotted anything resembling a full night of sleep, which may result in overthinking some things, what with regaining the capacity for thinking at all. But yeah: Dogs! Not that complicated. Barking all night is an actual problem for which there has to be an actual solution beyond patience and treats, beyond firmness and authority.
Now, about those happy tinkles…we’ll have to figure that out later.