Category Archives: Dog

Lessons from my dog

Jack is not the kind of dog I wanted.  I had this vision in my mind of the kind of dog I wanted before I adopted Jack.  I wanted this really cool, laid back dog.  An outdoorsy, sporty running and frisbee partner.  I wanted a goofy, friendly, lovable mutt.  Sure, Jack is a few of these things, but far far far from most of these things.  He’s goofy in the sense that one time on a groggy morning jog, we were both not quite awake while running down the road alongside all of the parked cars when I heard a “thunk”.  I looked down to see a dazed Jack who had just run straight into the bumper of a parked car.  He’s not laid back in the slightest.  If I sit with him outside a coffee shop, good luck to the person who dares make direct eye contact with such a lovely pup.  Jack turns from adorable dog to the kraken in a split second. I especially love it when the passersby see this and step back with an audible “woah.”  No pressure there!  This past summer, Jack developed this horrible teenage back-talk in the form of growling, lunging, and nipping to both me and especially boy.  We don’t know what to make of it, where it is coming from, and how to react to it.  We both know it’s 100% unacceptable.  We typically pull his head down to meet the floor until he can calm down, but the stress in this household peaks for a solid 12 hours after those events.  Boy yells at Jack, Jack snarls at boy, and I separate them into different rooms and flutter back and forth trying to make amends and discuss remedies and work to put the household back on the same page of respect and discipline.

Recently, in an unfortunate and lightning fast turn of catastrophes, Jack bit boy.  He has nipped in the past, the easy-to-identify herder’s nip that says “hey, you’re going the wrong way, mister.”  This bite?  This wasn’t a herder’s nip.  This was a sheer white noise panic I don’t know what else to do because you just swatted my rear with your socks and I’m scared bite down and naw until I realize what I’m doing and start hi-pitched yelping and screaming in fear.  I think our neighbors thought we were killing poor Jack that night.  Seemingly unprovoked, Jack worked his way into a blind panic that had him squealing before boy even touched the poor pup.  In a bad decision by boy, he swatted at Jack with a pair of socks and Jack’s squeals turned into a bite which turned into realization of what he was doing which was too late because boy had his face to the ground with blood dripping from his wound all over Jack’s fur.  Jack’s eyes were fully dilated and his teeth were out.  I ran up to both of them and we kept Jack in position until he calmed before boy stood up to wash his wound.  Ears back, shaking, in a half tuck position, Jack had blood spots and fear all over his face.  I took a wet towel and helped him clean himself off as much as he would let me.  I sat with him a good 15-20 minutes before letting him sleep by himself in the living room.  Boy sat with him alone for another 15 minute before coming to bed.  It wasn’t a good night for anyone in this household.

The worst part of this?  Whereas before I felt like I could trust that Jack would not bite, he is now in the category of a dog that can and will bite.  This changes things.   This changes a lot of things.  I always have to be on guard.  I will never fully trust my dog again.  We have stricter limits in the household.  Jack can only come up to snuggle on the couch when he is invited.  He is blocked off from the bedrooms at night.  If he becomes territorial of an area that is not his own bed, he has to leave the room altogether.  He hates it.  We hate it.  Every night we sit on the couch, Jack stares at us from his bed on the floor with big glossy puppy dog eyes.  Every morning at 6:00 am his nose is pressed up to the door waiting for one of us to wake up and open it.  On weekends he lays by the door until 10 or 11 am, whereas before it was a weekend treat for all three of us to indulge in a very long morning snuggle fest.  None of us like it, but it has to be done.  And sometimes I can’t help but think, this is not the kind of dog that I wanted.  And I want to curse and kick rocks about it.

I withdrew my applications to medical school.  It took a lot of discussion and reaching out to those I trust 100% with my very sensitive emotional self.  And then more discussion with both those who are in medical school, those who aren’t in medical school, and those who want to be in medical school.  You see, in undergrad I knew what I wanted to major in the minute I walked onto campus.  I dove into courses my freshman and sophomore year and was surrounded by juniors and seniors in several of my classes.  Good on me, I thought.  Getting this stuff out of the way so I can get it done.  But in the end?  I always felt a bit slower than everyone in the class.  I struggled.  I stressed.  I felt like I couldn’t keep up.  I didn’t enjoy what I was doing.  And when I look back, there are a few classes I wish I could take again, because if I did?  I would take the time to enjoy them a little bit more.  I would stop worrying about my grade on the next paper and relish the material a bit more.

I could get into medical school for next fall.  It only takes one acceptance, right?  I think I could swing it.  But would I be ready?  And when I asked myself if I would be ready, I meant would I be ready to enjoy it?  To relish it?  To immerse myself in an environment that feels both right for me at the moment?  I prepared for the MCAT and I filled out those applications, and I knew all along I was pushing the envelope of what I was ready to take on.  I don’t want to be scared about anatomy and physiology my first semester in medical school because the only place I have seen it up to this point was a few chapters in the MCAT prep book that told me exactly what I need to memorize without an ounce of context.  I’m not ready.

Sometimes I can’t help but think, this is not the type of person I want to be.  And I want to curse and kick rocks about it.

I wouldn’t choose to adopt another dog if I could go back in time.  Jack’s given me too much.  He’s taught me about myself and despite his poor behavior at times, I am a staunch defender of who he is.  He’s Jack.  He’s scared at times and we all get confused at how to handle it and when we act bad he acts worse.  And some days, we get it right.  We exercise him just enough, we give him just enough discipline, set the limits just right so that he feels safe and protected, and he gives us just enough love to show that we did it right.  We’re figuring it out.  We make mistakes.  A little blood is shed.  We learn.  We move on better than what we were because we have dropped our expectations and accepted what comes.  Good.  Bad.  The in-between.

I’m playing it by ear.  Learning how to keep myself immersed in healthy relationships.  Weeding out the bad.  Dismissing preconceived notions of who I need to be and who I think people expect me to be.  Not taking it personally when people recommend vocational school or nursing school.  Deciding that the in-between is the best place for me.  And letting myself enjoy it.

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To all that care:

Jack caught his first frisbee mid-air today.  I turned away after throwing it to swat at a mosquito and then glanced back in time to see him 2 feet off the ground securing the disc in his mouth.  He dropped it right after he caught it, more interested in the blades of grass that were so surprisingly exciting to my little ADHD dog.  But this is a big day, one that has been long in the making…


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for the sake of not disappearing altogether

Needless to say, it has been busy.  And this is a quickie.

Consumer free Christmas? Well, not by choice.  I haven’t bought or given a single gift yet.  And I have no plans on cramming in last minute shopping.  When the idea of shopping stresses me out, why would I go do it?  Totally planning on hitting up colleagues and family with Happy 2009! gifts 🙂

Or make that no Christmas? Gasp! Never! However, I’ve had the same question from several people – do boy and I celebrate Christmas since we’re atheist?  Are you KIDDING me?! OF COURSE!  Silly geeses.  What do we celebrate?  Each other.  Family.  Our good fortune.  And oddly enough, our favorite television show is Eli Stone.  We’ve been following this one from the start (and too soon end) and it centers around a Christian man who believes he’s God’s prophet.  We ENJOY the show, the very Christian show, that America has decided to cancel.

Dog is still freak. Why? because last Friday, after finding a sugar ant invasion in our new apartment after the first hard rain, I suffocated drowned a trail of ants across the hallway with a giant puddle of Raid ant killer.  I was proud of myself, too.  I hate hate hate bugs which is why boy usually handles bug situations before I get a chance to even see them, hence the drowning.  I was making a little swimming pool of Raid in the kitchen when I heard a tongue lapping in the hallway.   Jack found the puddle, and the little guy has such an oral fixation he has to put his tongue on everything!  And he doesn’t just lick, he goes to town savouring things such as poop, garbage, and apparently Raid.  I had a fit that sent Jack into an all-day pouty mood and called the ASPCA poison control to go over the ingredients and how Jack might react (and let me tell you, unlike the human poison control center, the ASPCA poison control center is not free.  $60 per consultation which is unfortunate in case someone chooses NOT to pay the fee and take the risk of waiting it out…)  Jack was fine, but I spent a whole day wondering if he was lethargic or just pouting because I used my mean voice at him.  And the advice from poison control?  Give him a treat so he can get the bad taste out of his mouth otherwise he’ll drool and foam at the mouth because he can’t spit.  Dear Jack, if it tastes bad, maybe you should have your tongue all over it!!!

and lastly.  I haven’t slept since Saturday night.  Last night I pulled my first all-nighter since those good ‘ole college days to get through my last final this evening.  I have a lot to say about this semester, but I’m not sure I’m ready to say.  Some of it is humiliating but most of it is frustrating.  Lessons learned – I will not be taking two 4 credit classes alongside working full time, and I will not beat myself up to the point of paralyzing anxiety over not understanding completely new and unfamiliar material.  Unfortunately, I’ve earned a few scars physically, emotionally, and on my transcript.  Nothing that can’t be undone, but it will require 2-3 times the effort and a complete fear of physics.

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Adoption Day

Today’s Jack’s adoption day.  I don’t know when his birthday is, so we’re celebrating adoption day instead.  And I put together the cheesiest Jack slide show with pictures from when I first adopted him 1 year ago.

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I don’t understand the question

Remember those required school tests for vision and hearing?  Once a year during an English class, we were all herded into the library to look through equipment from the 1970s and answer questions about what direction the “E” was facing using 3 fingers and to raise our hand corresponding to the ear we hear the beep in.  And then there was the part I always dreaded because I failed it EVERY time.  The red ball.  Is it inside the box or outside the box.  Simple, right?  No.  Because I never understood the question.  Up until high school, instead of thinking the question was about if the red ball was within the lines of the square or outside the lines of the square, I thought they were asking if the ball was IN the box or OUT of the box.  Like in 3d space.  So the ball was in the middle of the square and I’d be debating where it was in space.  And they passed me every time.  Probably thinking they’ll pass the dumb girl because obviously something’s not right because she can SEE the ball.

Then in high school chemistry we had to make an edible 3d model of an atom.  I spent hours with my mom at Michael’s craft store perplexed by this.  I didn’t understand why this was so difficult for me to figure out and what were the other students doing?  In the end I showed up to class with orbits of twizzlers suspended with fishing wire from a marshmallow ball nucleus and life saver electrons.  What did everyone else do?  Sheet cakes with a frosted atom design.  This never even phased me.  Because frosting on a sheet cake as 3d?  That makes no sense.

This not understanding the question is a repeated theme in my life.  The smallest request becomes a brain teaser because I can distort questions in my head to mean something entirely different.  And most of these questions involve spatial things.  In high school geometry we had a test question that featured 90 feet long howling coyote-like wiener dogs in the desert.  And, no lie, I asked my english teacher (who was the then wife of the geometry teacher) if she really did see these dogs on her honeymoon.  Why did I ask this?  Because spatially, I had no idea how long 90 feet was.

Yeah.  You say I’m a retard, I say my imagination is spatially challenged.  (but really, I can’t be alone in this.)

So I am having the problem again in chemistry.  And I sit in class with a nuclear chemist of a professor who understands numbers and physics as translates into graphs and orbits and my eyes fill up with tears over and over again because I can’t SEE it.  I have no idea what he is talking about because there is no picture in my head and the numbers and letters of the 3 axes we’re dealing with mean NOTHING to me.  Absolutely NOTHING.

And I come home in near tears, again, with boy trying to fix everything.  But he doesn’t understand.  He just wants to fix it.

So I may or may not have heated up some marshmallows in the oven on some foil (I know, but neither of us has a microwave and we were soaking the burner pans in easy off and I was desperate) and may or may not have dumped roasted marshmallows into a bowl of cookie crisp (I would never buy cookie crisp but boy did because of a 2fer at Target he couldn’t resist.)  And I sat in front of the television eating marshmallow and cookie crisp watching Stealing Beauty explaining to boy that for a girl of 15, this was by far the sexiest most romantic movie EVER.  A girl who writes haikus at the top of old newspaper and looks straight into the camera and turns away to inhale a cigarette before tearing off the haiku and holding above a flame and letting her words burn and then, and THEN!  she loses her virginity to the shy Italian boy who wrote her anonymous love letters!  OMG.  How I wish I was Liv Tyler in that movie.  But instead, I am 27 years old, frustrated with learning the stuff I remember learning in high school, eating a bowl of marshmallow and cookie crisp, with a dog wearing a cone around his neck resting his head on my lap.  So to take the humiliation off of me, I will instead put it on Jack.

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random in between the studying

It’s hard core midterm season.  Although so much of it is lost to fret and worry, I can admit that this drive, the marathon studying for 5 hours straight on a Sunday afternoon, this is what keeps me in school.  I like it.  But here are some random thoughts from the moments in between my studying (which is not much.)

  • Is fall proposal season or is this just a mid-20’s symptom?  All over the place I am hearing about so-and-so who just got engaged.  Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great.  But once a wave of proposals and weddings hits, it pushes me far away from wanting what seems to be the trend.  But I guess everything comes in waves.
  • I like hearing the phrase “first world problem”.  Now I can use it on people when they are describing the difficulty in finding the right pair of work shoes that are comfortable enough to go out in for drinks or the necessity of quality trivets.  It’s a delicate way to let you know I could care less and maybe you should too.
  • I don’t like facebook.  In fact I hate facebook.  Not only do I keep getting constant reminders that I am moving up in ranks as the most athletic of my friends and maintaining my rank as least merry person, I had to delete my friend’s message about my raging hormones disrupting several girls’ cycles because it would be visible to all my colleagues (that was you Mrs. M!!).  My colleagues just wouldn’t be able to handle the notion that my hormones are THAT infectious (b/c, oh, they are.)  I just don’t like facebook.  Please, don’t poke me.
  • Are you satisfied with what you contribute to society now or do you even care?  I know, it’s a loaded question, but I’m not judging you on your answer, just curious.
  • In case you were wondering, the whole brushing the dog’s teeth has gotten much better with patience and perseverance.
  • On another dog note, I was running this morning with Jack on the road (asphalt being softer than concrete) and I heard a ‘thump’.  I looked down to see Jack stumbling out from having run head on into a parked car.  A car didn’t hit my dog, my dog hit a car.  He continued on with his tail and head down ego damaged, but soon after forgot and was bouncing around.  He needs blinders.
  • Lastly, I’ve been working hard to manage my stress level this fall.  It always bites me in the ass during midterms and, in turn, I bite everyone’s head off around me.  So what have I been doing?  Using my personal days as ACTUAL personal days.  And it has been helping a ton.
  • Maybe this will be lastly.  The other stress reliever – the dog park.  And the weird thing about the dog park is when you start to talk to people at the dog park.  Did you know that about 1/3 of the people at the dog park don’t have dogs?  You may think I’m joking, but when you live in such an urban area as Oakland or Berkeley, it’s hard to find a place that accepts pets.  So I imagine this is where people come to get their fill of dog play.  Or stress-relief.  I think it’s nice.


Filed under Dog, Life

something’s wrong with people

I read this on Wandering Bella‘s blog.  So I’m forwarding it on.  Because for those of you who have met Jack or read about Jack and know how important he is to me, you’ll understand why these guys need to be saved.

Go here – – make a donation.

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