Wednesday, May 14, 2014

My Dog

My dog is almost 15 years old. In dog years, as they say, she's 105. She certainly has slowed down and declined in the past two years, but steadily over the past 5. She is probably 75% blind and has the same amount of hearing left. We've moved her half way across the country, and she took about as long to adjust as our children, and in her own way she is comfortable and acclimated. 

She has always been a bit neurotic and holds onto her aversions like a true stubborn Italian- but you can tell it's not stubborn pride that is the root of her behavior but pavlov's fear- petrified from the initial incident that cause the aversion. One is her fear of bathrooms. All bathrooms. She won't put a paw in a bathroom- no ball, no food, no loved owner can lure her in. This is because of her dislike of getting a bath. The word bath does it too. When I plan to bathe her, I speak in Spanish, or cryptic phrases while avoiding eye contact with her. I close all the doors first, get the stuff ready, hours before, because she'll know there is strange activity going on in the bathroom and sense something is up. I have to one up her mind games. I'll carry about my day for a couple hours, the she gets the sneak attack- I'll be casually singing to myself, or munching popcorn and swoop down to pick her up, bring her up the stairs and plop her in the bathroom closing us both in. 

All of this being said, my dog will now, after having moved into this new house, saunter into any bathroom. Sometimes when hubby or I are getting ready in the morning, in she'll come and lay down on the bath mat like it's totally normal. After years of being petrified of tiles and toilets, she's past it. Is it that she can't see what she's doing, or with two faculties half gone, doesn't discriminate much any more, is she too old to care? 

One time, another house ago, we moved in and after a week or so, I decided I didn't want the dog bowls to be visible any more. They were unsightly and  I wanted them hidden. So I established the place for her food bowls to be near a laundry room, still part of the kitchen flooring, but around a corner. She refused to eat. I thought, "sucks for you" and "she'll get over it eventually" I'd hear her feet in the middle of the night, hungry, but equally traumatized by the corner she'd have to turn to get to her food. She'd finally muster enough courage to make it to the bowl, grab some nuggets in her mouth and run back to the known landscape of the kitchen. There she'd drop the food and eat it from the floor where she stopped. Some nights she'd get through most of it, some not. And on and on it went like this. I didn't want to give in. We had the bowls in the kitchen in the last house and I didn't like it- slobbery food bowls, spilling water... But I must say, in the end she won. Her neurosis won out over my stubbornness. Because what I was trying to avoid was happening, since she'd bring her mouthful back to the kitchen, she was getting her slobber on the floor anyway! And the whole ordeal- walking a couple feet to the corner, retreating under the table. Then a couple inches further, retreating. The a foot further then retreating. Then she'd give up, come into my bedroom for 10 minutes, and later try it all over agin. I couldn't fall asleep listening to this go on. The consequence of what I had to listen to and observe from me standing my ground became more aggregating than just giving in. I didn't get it. I thought it was rediculous. I even compromised and moved the bowl out of the laundry areas to the corner of the hallway, now visible from the kitchen. But nope. Still traumatizing. So I gave in and put the darn bowls right smack in the kitchen where she could not have a panic attack every night and we moved on. Morale of the story: If someone's irrational, don't fight or try to change them.

But what is the kicker for me now is one night I'm half sleeping, and I hear her nails click clicking through my bedroom, and turn down the little hallway to our master bathroom. Then click click into the bathroom, further in and stop. Then I hear a lapping of water. That geriatric, half blind, half deaf dog of mine was drinking out of the toilet! Well I'll be damned. I have no explanation for it (there was in fact plenty of water in her bowl) but that her inhibitions and mental indigestion were gone momentarily and she was taking something for herself for once in life. The dog that needs to look back over her shoulder and check for approval befor taking a shit. She's obedient to the point where it threatens my sense of feminine self worth. She was thirsty and figured she'd try something new. When I recounted this story to my mom, she was inspired, and decided she too was going to drink from the proverbial toilet now that she is older. Well, here's to you pup! And here's to drinking from the toilet- I am truly proud of you, and I'm honored on behalf of all woman kind!

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