Swing the spinning step

On Friday, after we were late for the prenatal appointment, Kevin took me out to buy his mother’s birthday present to me: a porch swing. In his usual fashion he wouldn’t tell me what we were shopping for until he sat me down in one at the hardware store. On Saturday, he and Raymond assembled it. It’s lovely. And it’s already getting use; after gaming we hung around it and talked about the session, and Raymond has used it and I had lunch on it today. It’s so much better than the hard plastic chairs we’ve had.

I flooded the strawberries that weren’t thriving and now they’re doing much better. I guess they just don’t need water, they need LOTS of water.

Today, however, Dante dug up one of my container squash plants. It made me angry for too long. I replanted it, along with a backup squash, since they’re supposed to be really sensitive to having their roots disturbed. Later, I decided t0 come inside and do something or other and I figured I should bring the dogs in, since clearly the dirt temptation is too much for at least one of them. Dante often runs away when it’s time to come in, until I deepen my voice at him. But this time, Hannah didn’t want to come in. She fled from me like she flees from a bath. Except with a bath she’ll eventually walk into the tub herself, if bullied enough. But I had to pull her inside by her collar, and she resisted the whole time. Very difficult. Times like that, I seriously consider just letting the dogs do what they want, except that I don’t want to set bad precedents. It’s a pain in the butt.

I continue to have lots of extremely detailed dreams. I should really be writing them down more than I am.

Everybody, pay attention…

It’s nice to know that when I use my ‘freak my shit out’ voice, the dogs pay attention.

I wasn’t actually freaking my shit out, but I was close, after a long day running errands and feeling more pregnant than usual. Full of anxiety about the state of the house and the money situation. Overall, the people who live with me should be very glad that they were not present or I almost certainly would have given them one of my painful little lectures on how we need to Get Stuff Done.

It was a nice day, so I left the front window open a bit when I left for errands. When I came home, Dante was so excited to see me, he knocked the screen out. Luckily the window was just high enough that he resisted the impulse to leap out and race around. Which surprised me, honestly; when he was younger (much younger, back in Kirkland), he leapt down from at least that high once.

This was not the trigger of the almost-freaking-my-shit-out. No, it was muddy feet again and the dogs racing inside past me later without the usual pause to have their feet wiped. I shrieked and they both turned and returned to me like boomerangs, all licky and eager to show me I was boss.

Stupid dog

Plus Dante is going through a ‘toddler day’. You know, the days where he throws every bit of reasonable behavior to the wind in exchange for the unbridled joy of flagrant disobedience followed up by acting like he’s all sweetness, innocence and love. I cannot WAIT until he grows out of this.

On a related note, my father mailed me my baby book and I went through it. Apparently, of my first eight words, ‘doggie’ and ‘barking’ were two of them. In fact, ‘barking’ was apparently my first word. So I guess I really have loved the hairy smelly rambunctious critters all my life. The snoring cuddly little fuckers.

Dog Voodoo

When Hannah was younger (and to some extent now) she would respond to our absence by hiding food and precious things (to her) in our bedroom. She seemed to believe that we’d left because the den wasn’t nice enough. And sure enough, if she acted this way, we’d come back. Magic!

Dante has always been deeply interested in clothing, especially pants, but also other garments. He is interested in them on and off the human form. He pays keen attention and notices changes to garments.

I think I’ve figured out why.

People who wear pants have the knowing of how to open doors. And acquire fresh cold water. And dogfood. But mostly, all the doors open for people who wear clothes. Magic! I’ve caught him dragging off clothes I was about to put on before detouring to the bathroom, all the way down to the front door. He’s always very interested in the dressing ritual, practically encouraging it when he’s locked in the bedroom with me.

Clothes, it seems, are Power.

In other Dante news, he loves snow. He really loves snow. It provides him with endless hours of amusement.

Where have I been?

I hope I don’t always have an excuse. We’re almost out of the old house, almost done with that albatross. Then it’s just the unpacking. But that’s no excuse. I can’t always have an excuse. I mean that in an abstract intellectual way; that I can’t turn things I hate into excuses.
That’s about not writing.

But I haven’t been posting here so much kind of ’cause of Dante. My sleep schedule is messed up ’cause of him and all my posts used to either be right after I got up or at work.

On Dante himself: I’m happy with him, except for the cat situation. Yeah, he destroys stuff, yeah, he fucks up my sleep schedule. Yeah, I might complain. Yeah, there’s stuff I’d change and yeah, we’re working on some of those. And yeah, I’m making it harder on myself than I have to in a few ways. If I kept him locked up in a very small space anytime I wasn’t ready to fully focus on him, things would be easier. And he might not even mind. Instead, I sometimes put him in the office when I leave home, or put him outside on a tieout line for a while during the day (and keep the door open and a close eye on both dogs) or on the other end of a leash I wear around my ankle. And I think, when it’s a baby, some of these things won’t be legal.

Of course, it takes two humans to get a baby and just one human to get a puppy.

Anyhow, might be time for my morning nap now.

Half human, half wolf

So while I only rarely thought of Hannah as my child or baby (rather than my dog), since getting Dante I have been overwhelmed by the sense of having two children. Two children with a relationship much like siblings: Hannah thinks Dante is fun sometimes but our relationship has totally changed and so has her behavior towards me. Less respectful of my instructions, more prone to ignoring me (but pays attention to Kevin just fine) and so on. And while Dante is fun sometimes he’s also a total PITA who doesn’t understand that Hannah needs alone time sometimes. Meanwhile Dante thinks everything Hannah has is best.

Late last night after I’d gone to bed (but Kevin was still up so Dante was uncrated) the veneer of humanity fell away. I wasn’t yet asleep when some rustlings at the side of the bed turned into a nightmarish roar of snarls, scrabbling toenails, thumping bodies, yelps and a sort of wet noise. I rolled over to the side of the bed and I think there was this knot of dog, but I reacted more quickly than I observed: I placed my hands on Hannah’s ribcage. She instantly calmed and Dante fled to the hall where he crouched very low. I petted Hannah and listened to Kevin stomping back. He checked out Dante for actual injuries (which we didn’t find), and then we watched as Hannah came over to sniff both of them. Kevin gave her a cute little lecture about how she had to treat Dante like her puppy.

Later, after he left, I watched as Hannah went back to where Dante crouched in the hall. She sniffed him thoroughly and then stepped over him several times. He licked her chin. Her tail was very high. She invited me out to the living room, where she clearly wanted either Dante crated or Kevin to also come to bed. But her tail was only half-mast with me, and she obeyed the ‘roll over’ command happily when I gave it, so I don’t think she was feeling too oaty. After I went back to bed (sans Kevin, Dante still uncrated) she settled onto the floor in her usual place and I watched Dante hover near the door for a while and then eventually wander off.

There seems to be less growling over Dante invading her space this morning. I think she really did want Dante to be like the cats and humans: fun to play with but otherwise not invasive, not pushy. But Dante’s a dog raised by dogs.  I’m curious if he’s an extra dominant dog or just normal for an adolescent puppy. And I’m cautiously glad Hannah kicked his ass (but we’ll have to see the ongoing consequences of it).

My immune system is rebelling

Near total collapse the last couple of days: achiness, exhaustion, lack of focus. And weird, disturbing dreams about violations of the natural order.

And this puppy is so much work. He’s losing some of his housetraining, probably inspired by our crappy housekeeping and our inability to read his cues. The cats are in total exile during the day, all the doors are kept shut, and he’s put to bed in his inescapable crib at night (and the cats freed from exile). He destroys things. He cries. He whines. He attempts to assert his independence. He begs. He gets into everything he can see. He puts the most astonishing things into his mouth. He has accidents. He gets ridiculously carsick. He can’t control his bladder very well or very long, and I have to get up at the crack of dawn to take care of him. Anytime I can’t hear or see him, I assume he’s doing something bad and half the time I’m right. The way I feel responsible for him, all solitary ‘the buck stops here’ish, is why I never want to have kids unless Kevin is also completely enthusiastic about them. I don’t ever want to feel guilty about a kid of mine waking up his father the way I feel bad about Dante climbing all over Kevin when I take him out of his crib for the last hour of the night.

Kevin and Raymond both find the loud, mobile, bumpy growl-filled dog games that fill our hall a bit overwhelming in our small space, but I never mind because I always know exactly what Dante is up to when I hear those sounds and there’s a chance he’ll take a nap afterwards.

On the bright side, he’s a practically indestructible BiteMeez for Hannah, he plays sit-and-fetch even better than she does, and he’s a surprising master of the Baby Mammal Defense System (which invokes the Cuddle the Untaught Tolerance Engine).

But oh, he’s exhausting. Switching between providing limits, guidance and discipline for a rambunctious stubborn unruly hellion to providing affection and comfort for a young animal to providing positive reinforcement for good manners is so tiring. The constant sense of need-to-monitor is tiring. It’s stuff I recall from babysitting Nathan when he was young, but at that point in my life I had a lot less going on.

The frustration is tempered some by knowing he’s supposed to grow out of much of this. I know I could lock him up a lot more than I do and minimize some of that sense of exhaustion, but I sort of think that will make some of the problems into ones that extend into adulthood– that if I don’t teach him about chewing and destroying now, and redirect that energy, it’ll be a bigger problem when he’s an adult and weighs 75 lbs instead of 20. Same with toliet training.

He has temper tantrums. I don’t know how else to describe them. Not the tears and yelling part of a child’s tantrums, but when he wants to do something he simply isn’t allowed to do, that he knows he isn’t allowed to do, and I have to physically restrain him as he squirms and whines and wriggles and tries desperately to get away and do it anyhow because dammit, who am I to say what he can and can’t do? That sure feels like a temper tantrum. And, somewhat like what I did with kids, some of the ‘who are you’ is answered by ‘somebody a lot bigger and stronger than you who is patient enough to sit through your kicking and screaming’.
I don’t know if that’s entirely the ‘right’ thing to do with a dog. But it seems better than, uh, overwhelming negative reinforcement and of course there’s no appeal to reason. I guess we’ll find out.

Carson would be proud

Dante is quite large for a puppy but he is still just a little dog. It has only been, at most, six months since he arrived in the world and just because he mastered walking at the first go doesn’t mean he easily grasps more exotic concepts.

On Sunday, Raymond picked up some new pajama bottoms. ‘Sleep pants’, they’re called. Both pairs are a dark, striking plaid. Sunday evening as bedtime approached, he donned them. He wandered out to survey the house.

Dante went insane. He growled. He barked. He leaped forward, baring his teeth, and then cowered back again, caught between bravado and terror. Hannah gave a few hesitant barks and then stopped, puzzled.

Raymond, who has spent much time with Dante, crouched down and talked to him, and Dante came up and sniffed him. He licked Raymond’s face. He calmed down. Raymond wandered back into his room and then out agian.

Dante went insane. Next verse same as the first. This time, Raymond stood up again and showed his pants to Dante. Dante sniffed them. Then Raymond put his hands in his pockets, making his pants ripple.

Dante went insane.

Raymond pulled out his other pair of plaid sleep pants and waved them at Dante. Dante was terrified. He went into his room and Dante dashed in to bark at his legs. He came out and Dante ran back to me whining. Then he charged the legs again and Hannah body blocked him.

The plaid pillars that moved — he couldn’t connect them to Raymond, who pets him.

Last night he was once again frightened by the plaid.

This morning he pushed his head under Michelle’s hand for petting. Later, when she stood up from where she’d been sleeping on the couch, he went insane, frightened terribly by this stranger who had somehow snuck in and replaced the nice couch person. It was like she’d turned into a cat, those mystery beasts that lurk in the garage.