Wednesday, December 14, 2011


What started as an out-patient procedure in the hospital ended with a dog.

As Tom was lying in the room for a brief recovery, the Filipino nurse told us about her dog. Our interest in her story led her to tell us about the other Filipino nurse's dog. Her husband was having asthma symptoms even though this dog, a Shih Tzu is not supposed to aggrevate allergies. Short story is that she wanted to find the dog another home. Out goes one Filipino and five minutes later, in came the other. Number 2 told us about her dog, Thunder, and that he was wonderful - playful, but calm, he ate without issues, peed without issues, pooped without issues and he, like this breed, doean't shed. He loves to take a bath!
Thunder likes other dogs, likes people and likes kids.

Tom just loves dogs, and I love things that cuddle near me, don't make a mess and don't bother my kids. So all in all, we decided we'd like to give Thunder a try. We asked Fili number 2 to call us.

The next day, another nurse from the unit at the hospital issued the customary call to the patient to see how Tom was doing. I said, "Oh, he's fine. But there was this one nurse..." and proceeded to describe her Filipino-ness in a politically correct way and this other nurse, nurse number 3 was going to look into it. 

Later that day, Tom sealed the deal with the number 2's son. We brewed over names since we didn't like "Thunder" and decided upon Issey for Issey Miaki, the Japanese fashion designer. I love his men's cologne and it is one that I bought for Tom a while ago and I love when he wears it. Apparently, Steve Jobs asked Mr.Miaki to make him a black mock turtleneck that he liked and Miaki made him hundreds! Hence the signature style of the Apple icon! We were set on Issey for the name.

When Gabby got home from school, I took her with me and picked up the pup about 25 minutes away. We found Thunder in an apartment with his family of two parents and three young boys who loved him. Thunder was living with nurse number 2's son in law to preserve the husband's lungs. The family was lovely and we gathered up Thunder's things and headed to the car.

I asked the son how Thunder is in a car and the guy laughed and said he is "all over the place". Ok, fine. So I decided to put him in the hatch area of our SUV. I used to have a small dog, a terrier, who would sit in our front seat and lie down still the whole ride. It was the calmest that terrier ever was. With this Thunder bolt, I didn't get the same.

I opened the hatch and put him in the trunk area, and in the blink of an eye, he hopped over the row of seats and was in the back seat with Gabby. I grumbled and went around and got in the car. This dog jumped all over my car, in every seat- he took my son's bear for a chew toy, he dug into a bag of stuff I had to return at Walmart, he dug at my seats. I let him do all this because it was better to remain focused on driving than yelling at a dog and crashing. I tried to take the bear because I didn't know how diligent of a chewer this thing was and I didn't want him to ruin Marco's toy. That was a mistake - he followed the toy to me in the driver's seat, which fell by my feet. Last thing I needed was this dog to jump down there, then I'm sure to crash! I screamed at it then and dug up the bear. The damn thing nipped my wrist and scratched me, albeit mistakenly, but I felt like doing a U-turn off the highway and dropping its furry, butt-exposing ass off. I think he thought I was playing - we were not on the same page, Thunder and I.

All I can say is that he didn't pee or poop in the car because that would have really topped this off. He did settle down next to Gabby and sit on and off for a chunk of the ride.

The rest of our time together got better in terms of Thunder's performance, but my kids became the problem. Marco was deathly afraid of this dog. and the faster he ran away, the more Thunder pursued him. Thunder loves to play and he loves to run after kids apparently. We picked him up on Friday, and on Saturday, Marco spent half the day sitting on my kitchen counter to be away from the pup.
When Thunder settled in on Friday, he layed on the floor, ate well and did his business properly outside. That night, he slept on his little bed on the floor of our bedroom. I heard him licking himself a time or two, but he stayed put and was quiet.

In all this, our current dog, Adelaide tried to disappear from the situation and avoid Thunder's existence as much as possible. A very similar reaction to our last addition, the terrier. Adelaide could care less about our kids so I think all this affectionate attention from Thunder was scaring them. I think Adelaide is scared of the kids whereas Thunder was fond of them and they were scared of him! Either way, Adelaide was not in favor of this situation and she kept mum about it. But when Thunder would smell Adelaide's rear you could see her upper whiskered lip doing an Elvis impersonation in disgust of that intrusion.

The night was fine, I didn't sleep too well because I was paranoid about the dog and what it would do if anything. But come Saturday morning, my mind began to loosen. Thunder peed on the floor out of anxiousness of the new situation, probably. I cleaned it up. Tom cleaned up another couple anxiety attacks. But the major problem was Marco running and screaming every five minutes because the dog was looking at him. It's funny because Thunder was grey and white and his whole face was dark grey and you couldn't see his eyes or even see if he had eyes. (I felt a disconnect without some good eye contact from Thunder blunder.)

And weather this dog caused them anxiety, or it was just an exciting, distracting situation, my daughter who had been potty trained for over 2 years peed on her self. This was totally surprising and she had no explanation for it except that she had to go and it came out. Less unusual would be my son peeing himself. And of course, right before bed, Marco pees in his pants on his floor. If I could explain all this I would, but I have no words for all the pee I cleaned up that day except that I don't want to add another bladder to the mix that isn't quite flawlessly functioning.

Each annoyance that came along had me wondering if I should call and give the dog back. The day was a blur of sleepy annoyance, and my son, who is the sweetest thing I have ever met was making me annoyed and aggravated. When I wanted to strangle little Marco for being driven to irrational tearful shaking over a 12 pound fur ball, I knew he had to go. (The dog.) My breaking point was when the normal shenanigans of Marco and Gabriella were underway - her taking something of his and teasing him with it - followed by the dog running after them and everyone screaming all for multiple reasons. I snatched the offending something, yelled at my kids, sent them to their rooms and picked up the phone.

And that was the end of that Thunderstorm. Thunder was a lovely dog, however. He was pretty cute, kind and mild-mannered. I was folding laundry and he sat about 2 feet from me and just hung out. That was exactly what I wanted from a dog. Just a friend who gives no advise, no criticism and pass the time by my side in quiet acceptance. Issey Thunder, as we called him, fit the bill. But my decision to send him back was based on the allotment of patience and tolerance that I have in me. And all of it needs to be directed to my kids. No animal, cute, kind or mild will usurp any gentle kindness I have to give. It should all be for my kids. Sorry Thunder.

Also, I had finally gotten to a place of less tension with my kids a little older - I can keep fragile trinkets around, I can clean the house better and they can be occupied without my constant attention. There is enough to maintain as far as cleaning rooms and people that I started to feel tense again at the thought of one more thing to do. This dog needed to be bathed often and brushed more often. We are not high-maintenence kind of people and this dog required some pampering. Not a ton, but enough.

That same Saturday, after finishing their lunch, Marco and Gabby ran up to their rooms, and closed the doors with Thunder on their heels. They proceeded to busy themselves there to keep away from the new dog. Tom and I sat to finish the rest of our lunch on a Saturday in virtual quiet. He said, "I like that dog!" Nothing as of late could keep my kids in line so simply - they sat promptly at the table for breakfast with  no screwing around. (The perceived threat sat calmly beneath either one of their chairs). They stayed in their rooms to play... quietly. and the ironic thing was that this dog was in reality, no threat to them at all! It was a potential source of enjoyment. But fear of the unknown kept them in their chairs while eating and kept them in their rooms playing quietly.

Tom and I explained several times that if they walked slowly, Thunder wouldn't pay them any attention, but if they ran around, he got excited. That strategy hadn't sunk in, but of course, after the phone call was made, Marco confronts the "threat" on the stairs. He said, "Excuse me Thunder can you get out of my way. I am going to go past you. I am walking slooowwlly." And that he did and Thunder watched him and stood still. 

We could have flexed to fit this Thunder into our lives, but I felt like my limit had been hit and it wasn't worth it for me to ride the limit line for a dog. I ride the limit line several times a year, but it is for people - my kids. And that is worth it and it will be ridden as many times as I need to ride it because that is my job, my devotion, my responsibility. I could have loved Thunder, but if I did, it would be harder to take him off my plate, so I sent him home on day 2 to Nurse #2 because he could have been pretty easy to love, but also pretty easy to resent. This was my lesson in both knowing my limitations and exercising my assertiveness.

I was happy to hear that Thunder's family may not have had a easy night without Thunder  - they said the three boys cried and were upset all night without Thunder. So maybe it was not our time to take on a dog, and it was not their time to let one go.

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