Monday, October 30, 2006

My Problem Child

“You see, your dog is a complete loser because her owner – YOU - are a complete loser and we don’t ever want to see you or your neurotic, socially retarded mutt here again, ever. And please don’t even bother trying to pay us for today. Put your crumpled dollar bills back in your raggedy purse and just consider it our contribution to the charity of pitiful and lost causes. Now turn around, go back to your ghetto neighborhood and never darken our doorway again. And you’re ugly.”

I’m not kidding! That’s what he said to me!

Okay, okay…maybe the actual words he used were more like, “I don’t think Dot enjoys it here – she’s not doggie daycare material”. But I’m telling you what he was REALLY saying.

I was having some work done at my house last week and I didn’t want Dot to be underfoot of the workmen, so I thought I’d take her to doggie daycare. I’d been curious about the Canine Social Club near my office so I gave them a call, listened to their sales pitch, completed the very detailed application form and got there early to drop Dot off.

The thing I found most appealing about this place is that they let the dogs run free. They don’t cage them up all day and only take them out for 15 minutes every few hours to stretch their legs. They are separated by size and they get to run with their pack. They have a huge grassy yard, toys, people to play with, water features for swimming and all sorts of other great sounding activities. When they want to nap there are fabulous beds and hammocks and cots and bean bags. There is also a big play room inside with mirrors and music and more toys. Totally fun stuff.

I knew Dot would be nervous at first. She’s always nervous with first-time experiences. But who isn’t? Whether it’s the vet or the kennel or the groomer, she always gets over her fear once she’s used to something and I’ve actually always been proud of Dot for her ability to adapt. I have a feeling the first three months of her life, before I got her, were pretty rough and she didn’t get a lot of support. She just had to figure things out and survive on her own. And that trait remains with her today, three years later.

So yes, she’s definitely quirky, and yes, she can sometimes be stubborn, but I’ve always considered her fairly well-adjusted.

Well apparently she did NOT adjust well to doggie daycare! She hated it. I guess she was scared the entire time, snapped at the other dogs that came near her, cowered in the corner and basically pulled a grand mal freaker of Great Dane proportions. Poor thing. I guess the closest thing to a “pack” she’d ever experienced was when we kept mom and dad’s two cats for a month and there were the three of them romping around the house.

So when I came to pick her up I was so saddened to see that they had to go get Dot from the “separating” room where she had been put away from the other dogs. Then that absolutely snooty jerk of a guy told me that Dot wasn’t “doggie daycare material” and I went into defensive mother posturing immediately. How can they call themselves animal enthusiasts if they aren’t even willing to work with my little dog for more than one day? Can’t they see by the look on her adorable face that she’s the sweetest, funniest dog in the whole wide world? How dare they judge her without giving her a chance!

And with my hackles raised, I “humanized” the whole thing and took it deeply personal. Like there was something wrong with my little dog because she isn’t a pure breed like the other dogs that were there. Like this was some kind of commentary on my dog-ownership/mothering skills. Like these snoots in the rich neighborhood were judging us because we live in a non-Nichols Hills zip code. Like they weren’t even willing to work with her because she was so hopeless.

It was so humiliating and hurtful! And then when they wouldn’t accept my payment for the day, it – their PITY – was more than I could handle.

Of course later mom and dad reminded me that Humphrey (our basset hound) had been banned from not one, but TWO kennels in his lifetime, but that didn’t do much to console me because, honestly, Humprey DESERVED to be banned. Let’s just say that he was a persistent barker. My feelings were hurt because people were judging my little Dot, and she didn’t deserve it!

Thank goodness I finally checked myself and put a screeching halt to my whole downward emotional spiral when I realized how crazy it was for me to be acting like this. I was being absolutely neurotic. Maybe Dot really didn't want to be there and they were right – she just isn’t doggie daycare material. There are worse things.

They say pets take on the traits of the owners, so is it any wonder that Dot got kicked out of school for being an anti-social paranoid?

So I’m over it. I even think it’s kind of funny, now. I’m going to feel good about leaving the Dotopotamus at home during the day, knowing that she enjoys being the queen of her own castle and she can run with her own pack of “big boys” (our term for her stuffed toys).

And, for the record, I think it’s a totally normal, caring pet-owner reaction to stick hat pins into my voo doo doll that I’ve recently dubbed the “Jackass from the Canine Social Club”.

Yep, it’s probably a good thing that I don’t have children…


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