Get a leash on that owner

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When we’re not on the couch, we are all about that leash. 100%. Every time. 

So it’s close to midnight on a school night, and I’m watching four kids on roller-skates in front of my house. I like kids. I like roller-skates. I like midnight. (Come on, I’m not a total curmudgeon. After all, it won’t be me dragging these kids out of bed in the morning.)

What I don’t like is their dog running around in the street without a leash, making it impossible for me to take my canine squad out for the last walk of the night. Navigating kids on wheels is a trick in itself. For Pants, anything that rolls is the arch nemesis, but throw a barky stranger without a lead into the mix, and that’s like opening a portal to hell in front of my own driveway.

“Hey, guys. I’m taking my dogs out. Do you need a leash for your dog?”

“Oh, she’s fine. She won’t hurt your dogs. Right, Daisy?”

Daisy charges me. Affirmative, Daisy. You’re real cool. 

“I’m really more concerned that Daisy is going to get hurt.” I decided that was a kinder way of saying: “Daisy will lose at least one leg if she fronts like Nicki Minaj on my dogs.”

The oldest girl skates home to get a leash — or so I thought. I harnessed my pack, and we checked out the window. No kids. No Daisy. Coast was clear.

A minute into the walk, I heard Daisy barking her bossy rant as she barreled straight toward us from several houses away. Oh, mighty meatloaf. Sweetie was mid-poop, but I managed to drag them back to our house just in time to slam the door on Daisy’s hellfire.

Sweetie groaned. Poor girl. Sorry, Sweetie. Hold that thought. 

“Ma’am?” I heard from outside.

Through my storm door, I concluded this was the mother of the year coming to collect her awesome beast. “Yes?”

“The girls said there was some trouble with Daisy?”

“Yes, she needs a leash or to go home. I’m trying to walk my dogs.”

“She’s a nice dog, I promise. Sorry if she scared you. She has no restraint sometimes.”

Oh, for crying in a bucket. ARE YOU FOR REAL, WOMAN? And then I heard the words fall out of my mouth like an avalanche…

“Look, I just want to walk my dogs. Legally. With their leashes on, which is exactly what your dog should be wearing. I don’t even know why your dog is pissing in my yard right now since you live all the way down the street!”

“I don’t know why you’re so mad. I just wanted to let you know it’s ok to walk your dogs around her!” She attempted to pick Daisy up, but it wasn’t working. Daisy was too busy trying to get inside my house while my dogs were taking turns through the door going, “You peed on OUR bricks! You will pay! You’re so going down, Daisy!”

“It’s not ok!” I yelled back. “It’s NOT OK.”

And then the woman says, as she’s desperately trying to grab her dog, “Maybe you shouldn’t have dogs then!”

Not wanting to continue this episode of Jerry Springer on my front lawn, I took a deep breath and shut my front door. Pants was still promising to exact revenge. Sweetie was giving me fierce eyebrow. Poindexter was staring at me, like, “You’re going to kick her ass, right? Did you hear what she said — she said you shouldn’t have us?! I will poop so hard in that yard…”

I waited a minute. Then I opened the door as the woman was still struggling to get her dog. I wanted to hit her. Instead, I grabbed a treat and an old leash and went outside.

“Daisy, come here. Look. Come on…it’s ok. See what I have?” She belly-crawled over and grabbed the treat while I leashed her up. She was a nice dog. It wasn’t her fault. Handing the leash to the woman, I told her, “You can keep it. We don’t need this one. It’s an extra.”

She accepted the handle, “Thanks. I’m sorry about this. I’ll have the girls use it when they take her out.” And then as she got to the end of the driveway, she turned around, “I am really sorry.”

Just like that, I felt badly for wanting to hit her. Mostly.

The thing is: We’re supposed to learn from one another, even if it’s a little rougher in delivery sometimes than we’d like. I can’t go in front of a room full of kids with my dog one day, preaching compassion and empathy and how to help one another become better companions to our animal pals, and then the next day yell and scream intolerantly at a neighbor. As frustrating as they might seem, these moments are the best opportunities to educate.

See you around on your leash, Daisy.

(Just don’t pee in Pants’ yard, deal?)

Can’t judge this dog by the size of her teats.

Last week we brought Sweetie to a new, local vet for an updated heart worm test, etc. She was a good girl, sat nicely until it was her turn, and cracked a smile for every passerby. In my mind, she’s a ten out of ten on every scale. 100% awesome. Everybody should be so lucky to have a friend like her because she’s the be-all, end-all of rad dogs.

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I forget that’s not what people generally see first when they look at her in person, though. She’s calloused and droopy-boobed and arthritic and often has a lazy eye to match her lazy tongue that never seems to fit inside her stinky mouth. I’m empathetic to that view since it’s also what I first saw when I met her.

Once in a private room, the tech took one look at Sweetie’s sagging teats and cautiously recommended having her spayed. I’m used to folk passing judgments based upon my old girl’s physical appearance, but it stabs me in the gut at times. The implication is: We are responsible for the pain she endured or that we haven’t done enough to help her. Certainly this is harmless when we’re at a vet who doesn’t know us, and an employee is [albeit awkwardly] just doing his job. However, assumptions can also be horribly, needlessly damaging in other situations.

Before Sweetie ever set paw in our home, she was spayed. She was vaccinated. She was microchipped. She was heart worm tested. She was everything’d because we adopted her from the reputable org for whom we fostered. Truly the queen bee in these parts, she wants for nothing. We sleep around her in our own bed. When I’m on the couch, she’s on the couch. I sing to her and talk to her and have witnessed her oily, gross, lack-of-fur turn into the softest, shiniest coat. I know what kind of music she likes most and where she likes to go when we leave the house (and where she doesn’t). We don’t do this because we feel badly about the way she used to live; we do it because we love her incredibly.

Still, I helicopter over my dog because I’m wary of her becoming the victim of others’ rash opinions, even in our own back yard. We live in the age of social media postings that turn situations with simple solutions into OMG panic city. If Sweetie miraculously ever got loose from her spot on the sofa, I could see it now: “Someone, help! Pit Bull mom dog used for breeding was dumped in a neighborhood by dog fighting drug ring. Confused and old! An outdoor dog who has been chained her whole life. Walks with stiff legs and possibly beaten!” This, followed by an entire, forever-nested comment thread about how she obviously has no home and probably ends with multiple, well-meaning people rushing out to “rescue” Sweetie into the folds of someone’s aunt’s walk-in closet and never to be seen by us again.

Shiver.

When we decided to keep Sweetie, we knew raised eyebrows could pop up from time to time, so we always welcome questions. After all, the people who ask them care enough about her welfare not to assume. Just like any of us, Sweetie has a story to tell. Without a doubt, she’s taught me a thing or two about judging a dog by its cover.

So in the vet’s office this weekend, Sweetie looked at me. I looked at her. She was all, “Tell dude I’m spayed and loving it, will you?” And I did. He smiled sincerely, apologetically and replied, “I’m sorry. I just…that’s good.” Yeah, I know. It’s ok! She’s been around a block or two. She was sexy and she knew it. Those days = O V E R, and she’s got the best life ever now even if she’s not winning any beauty pageants except with us.

 

Just as abuse isn’t always outwardly evident, the evidence also does not always point toward abuse. Neglect carries subjective definitions, which is why we outline, question, and amend it by law. That said, if something breaks your heart or speaks to your soul, by all means, change the world. Just make sure you spend your time researching it first.

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I can’t foster or adopt, but I want to help!

Every year, the national dog advocacy group I’m Not a Monster hosts and coordinates a massive holiday donation drive for animals in need. Sweetie the Incredible is the network’s Dallas-Fort Worth “Monster” Elf and has selected three local beneficiaries: North Texas Pet Food Pantry, Dallas Animal Services and Adoption Center, and rescue animals receiving medical care through non-profit organizations at Denton County Animal ER. Because of the large area these folks service and the amount of dogs and cats under their care, many donations are needed to ensure each animal receives a toy, bed, blanket, food, etc.

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To date, we have collected quite a few items, and thanks to all who’ve been so kind and generous. However, nobody wants to decide which dog or cat receives a warm blanket or toy and which one doesn’t. That said, we really have a long way to go in order to meet our goal.

Each of the organizations and all of the animals within their spectrum are truly worthy of your donations, so when doing your holiday shopping and planning, please consider assisting the “Monster” holiday drive by:

  • hosting a holiday party where guests bring a pet supply item
  • ordering online from the wish list 
  • asking family and friends to consider making a gift in your name to the drive to honor an animal in need
  • collecting donations at work and school
  • asking pet supply stores if they have any items to donate

Your contribution can make a big difference this season. It’s a great way to get the kids involved in charitable volunteer work and can be a fun, rewarding experience. There are various donation collection areas for the drive, and our volunteers are happy to assist as well. Please see contact info below for inquiries.

Check out our wish list here. There are a ton of great items left to purchase. Thanks greatly.

Holiday cheers,

Sweetie Head Only

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