January 26, 2000



It's A Dog's Life


I hate my dog. Okay, okay, so I don't really hate him, but man, I almost do sometimes.

Billy aka Bill AKA Shut The Hell Up AKA Move! AKA Get Down NOW! AKA Muttman, etc... He's got a lot of names. Don't worry that all these names might confuse him, though -- he was confused already.

He's a pound pup, a product of dubious heritage, a Heinz hound. The papers said he's a pit bull/English Pointer mix. I figure maybe they got "mix" right. We (I) got him sometime back in '92 or maybe early '93. I got a bug up my ass that I wanted to have a dog, headed over to the local animal shelter, Bill is the result. I sometimes think maybe I should have shopped longer.

One thing that you hear a lot about pound pups is that you shouldn't get one. They're unpredictable, they're skittish, you don't know their background, they've been abused... They're just bad news. I'd heard all these things and picked Billy out of the lineup anyway. I sometimes think maybe I should have listened harder.

Bill was a sweethearted mutt who was just as common sense advertised: skittish and probably abused. But I figured with enough love and care and stability, maybe he'd pull it together and be a dog a guy could be proud of. And it was working for awhile there. He was visibly happier, trusting, fitting into our lives. He was still a spaz, but he was improving.

Then we had an earthquake. A big one. Maybe you've heard about it? Well, our house was about seven miles from the epicenter, so we got shook up pretty good. Anything that wasn't nailed down went crashing to the floor, and things that were nailed down came tearing off whatever they were nailed to, then came crashing to the floor. Lots of noise, lots of chaos, lots of wreckage. Kinda scary, even.

Poor Bill. He snapped like a twig. Just fuckin' lost his mind. Whereas before he was a little goofy but basically normal, the earthquake turned him into the biggest, stupidest pussy of a dog you could ever hope to meet. Ever since that day, everything scares him. Everything.

Here's a brief list of the things that scare Bill: Everything.

No, really. Picture a sheet of paper, a drawing of Zoe's, taped to the front of the refrigerator. Picture Bill ambling into the den a good 12 feet away. Picture the sheet of paper suddenly detaching from the fridge door and gracefully, silently floating to the ground. And then picture Bill skittering in a mad panic across hardwood floor as he runs like hell to get away from it.


And that's just one example. That kind of thing happens every day. Every. Single. Day. A friggin' leaf falls from a tree and he's off and running as if the Hounds of Hell were after him. Honestly, he's the stupidest, scaredest, biggest pussy of a dog I've ever seen. Our old neighbors had a belligerent Yorkie... Bill ran from it.

This has been going on for awhile now, so Bill's delicate nerves aren't exactly a new development. We're used to it, it's an accepted part of life. The sun rises in the east, Zoe wakes me up every time she catches me sleeping, Bill's a big ol' pussy dog. The constants of life.

So why bitch about it now? Because Bill has a new fear and it's driving me up the freakin' wall. Now Bill is afraid of his dog door.

I don't know why. I just don't. We've had that stupid dog door for more than a year now and Bill has used it several times a day, every day, ever since I put it in. Oh, sure, I had to cram his pussy ass through it a few times at first to prove to him that he'd live, but he got the hang of it and used it like a normal dog.

But no more. No, now it scares him. Now Bill won't go through that door no matter how long it's been since he was last outside. Which means that things start ... uh ... backing up and he develops a state of urgency about going out. But he still won't use the door.

No, he has to do his stupid little doggie dance whenever I walk by. Spin to the left, spin to the right, wag-wag-wag, make a groany "roo roooooo" noise, get underfoot, try to trip Chuck. Repeat, repeat, repeat until I open the sliding door and let him out.

Then I have to wait for him to get done and come back in. If I close the door and go about my business, well then he's stuck out there. Absolutely cannot come back in on his own. That would mean using the dog door.

So what he does is sit there, waiting for someone (me) to come back and let him back in. And he barks while he's waiting. Not "arf-arf-arf" on a quick repeat or a continuous loop, no. Just "Arf." "Arf." "Arf." About one every 30 seconds. Maddening. And if someone happens to be maybe lying down during the day, maybe taking a nap in the master bedroom while Bill's locked out, he parks himself at the floor-length window there and barks in at you. Infuriating.

My dog, the idiot. Too scared to go out to pee, too scared to come back in to loaf, makes me his personal doorman.

Maybe he's not the idiot.