There are no bad owners, only bad dogs


A long, sad tale of Trudy

This is how bored I am: I'm back here again. I have spent all fucking day going through catalogs of the company in whose building I work so I can order stuff for a subcontractor. And no, I will not make copies for you or get you some coffee. Now I have a monster-sized spreadsheet o' crap because the order forms were of insufficient size.

I've been pining for the fjords and for my pets. Although this diary was originally spawned to share tales of my very bad dogs, since I haven't seen them in two months, I don't have any fresh news. I know they're having a flea outbreak, but they live in San Antonio, which may be the flea capitol of the world. Just warm enough, just humid enough.

One morning back when Katy was an only dog she woke me up by standing on my chest and looking down at me and poking me with her nose. No, not just one morning -- that was every morning! What made this one different was that I could feel liquid dripping onto my face from her face. Oh no! It's dark red! She's bleeding! What has she chewed up now? A knife? A porcupine? In spite of her bloodiness, she seemed very happy. She shook her head and sprayed dark red liquidiness all over me, my bed, and the wall. Then I realized that she still had the offending object in her mouth. I took it out -- wag wag wag wag -- and realized that it was a pen. One of the liquid ink kind. Not blood. Ink. Indelible ink. All over my face. It was a pink pen, so the ink was a deep magenta. It was also all over me. "Ha! Ha!" Katy seemed to be saying as she danced around on my bed. "I'm so cute and funny!" She looked like she had put red lipstick on very badly, like Kaye Ballard. She also had it all over her chest.

I looked in the mirror and saw big splotches of inkiness all over my face. It was a weekday, so I had to haul my ass on into work. Into the shower: scrubscrubscrub on the face with loofahs and that apricot stuff that is actually what they use to sandblast buildings and clean motors. Attractive! Now I had a welty red patch that was still spattered with pink ink.

All day long at work people kept saying "umm, you've got a thing..." and pointing at my splotchy pink face. It got to the point where when people started to say something, I'd just say "I know!"

This is part of the reason why Katy is no longer an only dog. Too busy. Part bee.

When I decided to get Katy a dog of her own, I had to bring her in to the animal shelter to make sure she got along with the other dog. When we got there, Katy apparently thought I was bringing her back and went into full weirdo mode. This dog that will lick anyone to death, never stops moving, and is exuberantly happy just stood in the middle of the meeting pen like a zombie. Didn't move. Didn't look at anyone. Wouldn't play. And this was before the other dog even arrived. When I finally got her to look at me, her eyes said "I'm sorry. I don't know what I did but I'll never ever ever do it again." It was pathetic.

Then I brought Trudy in and Trudy jumped all over Katy and said "Let's play! Let's play! Let's play!" times about a thousand.

So, you know, the dogs went home and played and bonded and Katy was in charge. Until one day, Trudy decided that she would defy Katy's iron-fisted but goofy-ass rule. This defiance apparently came in the form of noncompliant eye contact. Suddenly, there was a mass of screaming, biting, thrashing, spitting dog in my kitchen and Trudy was getting the holy crap beaten out of her by Katy. Katy is part pit bull and seemed to instinctively know to clamp and shake to make the maximum amount of damage to flesh. When I finally got them apart, Trudy was bloody, covered in spit, and shaking. She ended up with I can't remember how many stitches. Katy didn't have any. They tried to start fighting again at the vet's office. That was my first $200 lesson about the dynamics of dog hierarchy.

This didn't happen again for a while -- probably a few months. But it would happen occasionally, and every time it did, Trudy learned a little bit about fighting.

Then Buster came to stay. Buster was found at a gas station after a Henry Rollins spoken word show and a lot of cocktails. He was scared and cold and hopped into the car with the drunk people with a bit of hesitation, but it seemed better than staying at the gas station. When he got home, everyone had a big love fest. Everyone liked everyone else. Yay!

Until a few weeks later, when the balance of power between Katy and Trudy became unbearable for Trudy. Buster didn't really seem to give a rat's ass about who was in charge -- he's an extremely goofy lab. He wants walks and food and some petting. Let's play!

So Trudy took up the battle again. The two dogs had fights up to 4 or 5 times a day over a span of over a week. I tried keeping them separated, but my house is old, has no doors in some doorways, other doors won't close, and every time I thought that they were separated, Buster would figure out a way to open the door. Let's play! And a fight would start. Trudy had learned the clamp and thrash method, and both dogs were bloodying each other substantially each time. I installed baby gates (one stacked on top of another because they can jump like deer) and they got a hold of each others faces through the mesh of the gate and made each other bleed that way. I tried muzzles, but Katy got hers off and beat the crap out of Trudy, who still had hers on so she couldn't defend herself. Once Greg and I got back from shopping and somehow the locked-up dog got out and a fight started. We each had a dog and were pulling them apart, but every time they came apart, they went back together. We were both bitten more than once. On that occasion, we used the handle of a paint brush to pry Katy's mouth open. When we finally got them separated, Greg looked at the shopping bags that were spattered liberally with blood and said "It looks like we've been to Bloodbath and Beyond."

Trying to find a home for a dog that fights with other dogs is damn near impossible. Having one of them euthanized seemed simply awful. I found a dog behaviorist who agreed to take them on and try to fix them. Even though I eventually gave her my entire annual bonus, she couldn't. She said she had never seen two dogs who were as completely stubborn and hell-bent on killing each other. While they were at her kennel, a new guy put them in a cage together and undid all of the progress they had made.

Eventually my sweet friend David came to the rescue and agreed to take Trudy. He is the kind of person who feels the need to fix broken people, so this seemed like a natural fit to him.

Katy and Buster are now happy as pigs in shit. Katy tries to take stuff away from Buster and he just throws down and that's that. David is still struggling with Trudy. The dog trainer thought that she had been abused and that someone had tried to train her with a shock collar before I got her and she was about 5 months old when I brought her home. She just can't seem to let go of the submissive behavior toward humans, which leads her to pee on his shoes, his rug, whatever is nearby. I never ever ever ever thought I would be a person who didn't keep a dog until the day it died of old age. I still feel guilty about Trudy.

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