Let me introduce you to our family dog, "Bug." I don't believe I've blogged about him yet:
Please take a moment to really take in that photo in all of it's adorableness so that you can UNDERSTAND why we have endured all that I am about to share...
My husband and I love Labrador Retrievers. I would say that we love big dogs in general, but especially Labs. Our first "child" was a chocolate lab named Sampson. We got him during our first year of marriage in 1996. 2 years later, we got a yellow lab/golden retriever mix named Max. We lost both of those dogs within 4 days of eachother in 2009. It was brutal and I did not want to be a dog-owner again. About 4 months later, there was an adopt-a-thon happening at a local shelter and my husband convinced me to go. When I saw Bug in his cage--he was named 'Zeno" at the time--there was an instant connection. It's hard to explain but he just sort of looked right through my soul and I knew I needed him as much as he needed me. He was calm and polite and very gentle with our children. He was perfect! We took him home. The shelter thanked us over and over again explaining that it's extra hard to adopt out black dogs. Apparently everyone wants the blondes, the reds or the cute spotted ones. I was so happy that we saved his life. On the ride home from the shelter, he kept kissing all of us over and over again as if to say "thanks." I said, "He is SUCH a love-bug" and his name grew from there. He remained calm, gentle and perfect his first 3 to 4 days at home and then--BAM! We had a hyperactive, jumpy and frankly out of control dog on our hands. My husband and I believe there may be a certain short-term "sedative" involved in the adoption process and frankly, we can't blame them. They are just so desperate to find homes for these dogs. So..we accepted our situation and realized that we needed some behavior modification fast! I tried training on my own as I had done very successfully with Sampson, but I was not successful. So..we paid a ridiculous amount of money to a popular dog trainer in our area and figured that would solve our problem. It didn't. This training technique involves Bug wearing a shock collar with the remote constantly in our hand and I will say that when he's wearing it; he knows what not to do. But--he's not always wearing it and life is busy and here we are 3 years later with our problem child. Let me summarize for you:
Bug ate a fire-starter log. You know--those gasoline soaked things. I made him throw up and he was fine.
Bug tore his ACL in his left hind-leg. Not sure how he did it, but it requires a $2,000 surgery that we were saving up for and treating with pain-management.
While we were at the beach last summer, Bug decided to tear into his bottle of "pain management" pills, overdosed and ended up in Detox for a week. The bill was astounding! This caused permanent liver damage which we have to have re-checked every 60 days and he is on special expensive food and special expensive supplements. He can no longer take any type of pain pills and surgery is no longer an option.
Last month Bug ate a case of Hot Peppered Deer Jerkey that Mark's dad sent in the mail. (The mailman didn't realize that leaving it at our doorstep was a bad idea.) Bug had the runs for about 2 days and then he was back to his crazy self.
Today Bug ate an entire pack of Stride Gum. Apparently "Xylitol" can be very toxic to dogs so I called my sweet neighbor Vet who came down and tried for over an hour to get Bug to throw it up with Hydrogen Peroxide. When that didn't work, he had to give him an eye-dropper full of Morphine to do the trick. It finally worked. Bug is sleeping soundly as I type.
My cousin Kate has referred to Bug as "Marley on Steroids" and I think that's a fair assessment. The problem is food--truly, that's it. He is perfect in every way except for that. If there is anything edible in sight; he will make every attempt to devour it.
So what do you do with a Marley on Steroids when you've already paid 800 dollars to a dog trainer with no results?! Do you turn him in to a Shelter? Do you drop him off at the Humane Society? Do you list him on Craigslist? No. These are not options in my world. When you adopt a dog; you take the responsibility of that ownership for better or for worse. I can't give up on him anymore than I would want someone to give up on me for all my mistakes. He's ours. And if he has lived through all of this, which is pretty amazing, then I have to believe he is supposed to be here. Right? I just know that good owners make great dogs and that means WE are doing something wrong. And it is hard for Bug to be the center of my attention and to get the training that he so desperately needs when I have 3 young children and a busy life. But..he is mine and I'm not giving up on him. I'm not really sure where I was going with this post but if you have any suggestions--please send them my way. Caesar--are you listening?? We need you!