I always wanted a dog. My father's response to our repeated demands for a dog was always, "there are only 24 hours in a day. When do you expect to take care of a dog?" He was an eternal pragmatist, that's for sure. I decided that when I was in a place to get my own dog, I would, and after I bought my house in June 2004 and Thad moved in October 2005, we decided to get some animals together. Thad is a cat person and I am a dog person so the compromise was 1 dog and 1 cat. Simple, right?
We adopted the cats from Cat Castle Rescue in Fairfax Station. We visited Neville, aka 'The Cat Lady' and foster mom to our cats, with the assumption of only adopting one of the gray fur balls we saw online. Once we saw them, however, we fell madly in love with the two roving furry kittens and we decided to keep the brother/sister pair together.
As far as the dog goes, we did a lot of research on what would be the best breed for our lifestyles and allergies (truth be told, I'm quite allergic to animals) and we decided on the Tibetan Terrier. It's a sweet, companion breed that doesn't eat a lot, doesn't need a lot of exercise, and ultimately just wants to be loved (sounds like me except for the eating part!). We found a local breeder, Lori, who had a 6-month old show dog that she needed to place in a home since she was having some personal issues and wasn't going to be able to show him after all. We visited him and he had me at the first sniff. I love this dog.
Fast forward a year after getting all the animals in Fall 2005. Thad and I were just engaged/married and knowing that we wanted to start a family sooner rather than later, we thought that getting a second dog would be a great idea to help with Scout. He's incredibly attached to me and we thought that if had a playmate, he would feel less "left out" once the baby came. We called the breeder and she luckily had a girl dog, the exact same age as Scout, that she needed to place in a home. She had been a return to Lori as the first owner didn't think she was "affectionate enough" and after talking with Lori about her, we decided to bring Scout to meet her and see if sparks flew. We brought him to her farm and sure enough, within minutes the two were running around like they were long time friends, and so entered Paige into our lives in December 2005.
The first 6 months were rough. She hadn't been house broken before and it took a lot of work to get her to stop peeing all over the house. We also were trying to figure out her best situations- crate, no crate, when to eat, when to walk, etc. We thought she'd just "fit" right into our already very regimented day with Scout but it didn't seem to work out that easily. Scout, also, never really took well to having her around. They haven't become the 'best of buds' we were hoping they would, nor do they seem to have an attachment to each other. If anything, I think Scout preferred being on his own and Paige was confused about another change of home. Tibetans don't have that strong pack mentality that a lot of other breeds do.
She is an incredibly sweet dog, though. Very playful, likes to eat, and loves to chase the cats. We thought this situation was going to be great for when the baby came but unfortunately it hasn't worked out the way we hoped. Scout is still incredibly attached to me, if not has become more so since Julian was born. While Scout has become much more tolerant of Julian, letting Julian climb on him and pet him and touch his nose, Paige still runs in the opposite direction if Julian approaches her. Neither dog has ever shown any sort of aggression towards him, if anything, it's total indifference on her part.
Since Julian was born we have had so many visits to the vet I can't even count, not to mention trips to the doggy ER all because of Paige. She will get into any food that's left out while we are gone, and this was NEVER an issue before Julian arrived. We have come home to find trash all over the house, Thad's work bag pulled apart with the food inside eaten and the papers shredded, Julian's books shredded, and the worst one- Julian's diaper bag (which was on the kitchen table when we left) was opened, and his used diaper pulled out, along with his lunch bag eaten through and all its contents destroyed/eaten including 1/2 a cup of raisins. Thad took the dogs to the doggy ER where they had their tummies pumped and the results confirmed our worst fears: Scout had an empty stomach, and Paige had EVERYTHING in hers.
When we leave the house now, here is my process for leaving:
1. Pack our diaper bag and put it by the front door
2. Get 2 treats for the dogs for when we leave the house
3. Put away all of Julian's toys so nothing can be chewed on or swallowed
4. Put up the baby gate at the kitchen, put the water bowl in the dining room, and move the trash can away from the gate.
5. Take out the dogs to pee
6. Give dogs their treat
7. Hit the road
Is this normal for any of you with dogs and children? I feel like I have to factor in like 30 extra minutes just to get out the door, forget the prep work it takes to be that ready. My fears are what happens when I have another child and I am trying to get me, plus Julian, plus a newborn, out the door? And what about when Julian has more toys? It's only a matter of time that Paige chews up one of his figurines and then it's another trip to the ER.
We've tried everything. We've tried adding a walk for the dogs, new chew toys, hiding treats to play games, doing more obedience, playing more outside, and taking them for runs. None of it seems to matter...when we leave, we have no idea what state the house will be in when we get home.
Last night, after cleaning up diarrhea/vomit for the third time, Thad and I sat down on the foot of our bed and discussed the future of these dogs in our home. Maybe our story here doesn't do a good enough job of encompassing just how hard it has been for us to the point where we are seriously considering finding Paige, maybe even the both of them, a new home, but I assure you, as a devoted dog owner I am at my wit's end and I am starting to resent the dogs for it. It used to be such a loving, two-way relationship where we gave to each other just how much we got back but lately, it just seems like all I do is give-give-give to these dogs. I'm on empty.
I love Scout and Paige and I just want them to be happy. They deserve a home where they get the attention they want without any of the hazards of life with little children. What now?