Thursday, July 13, 2006

Cohabitation - Part III


Tyson Tyson Tyson.

Tyson is a great dog. He just doesn't have much going on upstairs. He LOVES the boyfriend with an obsession that's only been equaled when I watch Orlando Bloom onscreen. Tyson is a rescue - the boyfriend took him in when he was about 2 years old. We don't know what happened to him, but we DO know that he was found in Lake County near Chicago, and was probably bred for fighting. If you met Tyson, you would know his personality is super non-aggressive, which is probably why he was found wandering the streets. He's a fighting reject. In all probability his severe case of separation anxiety is due to being abandoned.

The important thing to get out of that description was the "severe case of separation anxiety" part.

To put it in layman's terms, when he's not with the boyfriend, he's FREAKING OUT. When we go out with Tyson, and the boyfriend has to go somewhere alone (convenience store, bathroom) Tyson will stand rigid and stare in the direction that the boyfriend has gone until he returns. Seriously. It's disturbing. In the boyfriend's apartment, Tyson was allowed to roam free while the boyfriend was gone and he was apparently okay with that - I guess he understood that the boyfriend would eventually return. In OUR apartment, he is confined to one room (the dog room/guest room was the plan) when we are gone. When we're home, both dogs are free. Apparently, Tyson doesn't like this arrangment.

So, let's talk about how I had beautiful, perfect, wonderful, white carpet in my new apartment for all of 48 hours. Then we brought Tyson in. The first day, when Tyson realized that he was confined in one room he began the freak out. To put it mildly, it sounded like we were pulling his legs off. One by one. Slowly. Casey (who doesn't make a sound in her crate) was freaked out by Tyson's freaking out, so she added her barking to the melee. It was fabulous. Did I mention that we're still in an apartment? Did I mention that Tyson can apparently freak out for 4 hours or more before he falls into an exhausted stupor? Did I mention that he started frantically digging at my perfect carpet in an effort to get out of the room, dug THROUGH the carpet, scratched all the paint off the bottom of the door, pulled out one of his nails in the process (!!!) and KEPT DIGGING!

This has been going on every day for a month now. The background music to my life is comprised of howling, scratching, frantic whining, and crying. It never ends. A couple of times, Tyson thought it would also be fun to pee all over the carpet to show us how incredibly freaked out he was. (I'm pretty certain we got the idea from the crying.) We have found a temporary solution to the carpet (otherwise, I'm convinced that Tyson would be in China by now) and we had an animal behaviorist come to see him (yes, Tyson needs a doggie shrink. I wish I were kidding) who had some interesting suggestions, but nothing has yielded the peace that I'm seeking in my apartment. Nothing. If Tyson's not free, it sounds like he's dying a horrible, painful, LONG death.

Why doesn't he get to roam free? Because I am A) not a fan of dog hair and slobber all over my furniture B) not going to let a dog dictate the rules, and C) fearing for my cat's life. What Tyson needs is to be crate-trained. Unfortunately, he is 85lbs of muscle, and he pretty much doesn't stay in a plastic or wire crate if he doesn't want to. When the boyfriend's not around, he doesn't want to. Tyson's just a great dog all around.

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I have dreams of accidentally losing Tyson. You know, opening the door and having him slip by and run away? I dream, "Would the guilt be too much to bear if I could have a peaceful household?" Somehow, I don't think so.

To be fair, the boyfriend loves his dog. His dog loves him. Tyson is a great dog. He loves people, he's gentle, he's patient, he's laid back. When he's not confined, he's actually a better dog than Casey (who's still a puppy, mind you.) But that's as long as he's not confined. In the confined cases, he starts to sound like I'm slowly boiling him in oil. I wish I knew what happened to him in his past.

So we had to move Casey to another room. So much for my dog room/guest room idea. Now its Tyson's room. Until he's crate trained, I can use that room for nothing more than housing a dog who's practically foaming at the mouth, hyperventilating, and chewing bones faster than we can give them to him. Great.

This cohabitation thing is working out wonderfully. Seriously. I'm so glad I did it.

Oh yes, and my mother called yesterday to tell me that they're planning some remodeling in their house. First up, removing the carpet in their formal living room. Can I make certain to bring Tyson with me the next time I visit? She hears that he can help with that. Hardy har har har.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Cohabitation - Part II

Casey is used to being spoiled. I'll admit it. She's spoiled. She was an adorable puppy, and she's turning into a beautiful dog. My FIRST puppy. How could I not spoil her? Have you SEEN her sleeping baby picture? No?? Well here it is...

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However, now she's living with another dog and seems to feel like she has to compete for mom's attention. There has been some acting out (to put it mildly.) And since everything makes my puppy sick (she was the runt, and that makes her "special" as Alisa puts it), she is ill yet again. Dealing with living with Tyson, getting in trouble more often than usual (due to acting out) and the new changes in routine have stressed Casey out. Not a lot, just enough to give her a cough and sore throat. So she went to the vet.


And Again. (the first round of antibiotics didn't work)

That dog has cost me more in 7 months than my cat has in 6 years. She's special. She was put on antibiotics and steroid medication (anti-inflammatory). When the medication started, I noticed that she looked and acted weird, so I called the vet. No problem, he says the steroids "contribute to an overall feeling of well-being."

Its official. My puppy is stoned.

Her pupils are HUGE. She walks around looking at everything like its fascinating, and barking at NOTHING. She'll stare out the window and bark. I look - there's nothing there. She'll stand facing the corner and bark. Nothing there. It's starting to freak me out. What do I know? Maybe she sees dead people.

The warning on the steroids mentions that I may notice increased drinking by my pet, and also an increased need to urinate. Um, yeah. When I let Casey out of her crate, I have to immediately take her outside. This is a lesson I learned through trial and error during the first couple of days of medication. Before I understood that she literally couldn't hold it, and she peed inside, I would yell at her. She would literally jump, look at me with her freaky dilated pupils, and seem to be thinking "Whoa man...No need to yell. When you gotta go, you gotta go, man, you know? It's all good." She's so high. This is funny now (when the peeing thing is under control). Before, it wasn't quite so funny. The only lingering issue is that she seems to have forgotten where the front door is. Sometimes I'll see her standing at the window, looking at me. When I don't react, she pees inside. I now understand that in her altered state, ANYTHING could be the front door. If she's standing in front of it, looking at me, that means she has to go.

When she's, ummm...less high :-) and she doesn't get her way, she's pretty demanding. This is obviously my fault and comes from the spoiling. She gets frustrated easily and barks if you're not doing what she wants. Loosely translated, I believe her barking means, "Hey, idiot! I couldn't be any more clear about what I want. Why on earth are you ignoring me?" This is where Tyson has her beat. He's as dumb as a box of rocks, but he will wait patiently until he gets what he wants. Unfortunately for him, when it becomes clear that Casey will NOT be getting what she wants, she will literally turn, look at Tyson (as though realizing that he's STILL there) and take all of her frustration out on him.

Poor, patient, stupid Tyson, who is twice the size of Casey, is not the alpha dog of the apartment. He clearly defers to the puppy. When she launches herself at Tyson and chews on his ears, legs, tail, neck, etc. his efforts to extricate himself are always comical. There have been times that he will limp towards the boyfriend with Casey's jaws firmly attached to his rear leg, while she follows along behind. If he's got a toy that Casey wants, she will march right up to him and literally take the toy out of his mouth. He'll just turn and look at the boyfriend and I as though saying, "Why me?"

Twice now we have seen him turn and bark at her when his patience is finally gone. Both of those times, Casey will jump as though she's been electrocuted, and scurry to the other side of the room, leaving Tyson to contentedly chew on the bone/toy/biscuit that she was originally trying to take. Fifteen minutes later, she's harassing him again. When he's not around, she'll try to play with Laney. More than once, she's come up to me from another room with a cat claw sticking out of her nose. Doesn't seem to bother her much. I think she thinks it's a sign of love from the little funny looking dog she lives with.

When I'm alone with Casey, this is where the acting out comes into play. There is no more understanding of the words "come" "sit" or "down." It's like I've begun speaking a foreign language to my dog. Like she's angry that I changed her entire life, so she's going to make me pay. I used to be able to let her outside off leash, and she would stay right by me. If she did wander off, a simple "Casey" would bring her back. No longer. Now, she seems intent on embarrassing the HELL out of me in public. She will act completely normal and angelic, and then take off towards strangers and launch herself onto them. (This happened twice before the leash came back out.) I mean, seriously, how horrible is this? What do YOU think people are thinking when they see a 40lb pit bull running full speed towards them? My cries of "She's friendly!" "She's just a puppy!" and "Casey get back here!!" rarely make a difference. Luckily, the two people she jumped on and licked were dog lovers and completely understanding. She's now confined to a leash at all times - we had to upgrade to a pinch collar to keep her under control.

(I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to my mother for my "acting out" during my teenage years. I'm sure it was more frustrating than what I'm going through, and she couldn't use a pinch collar, nor could she put me in a 4'x6' crate when I was being a pain.)

The boyfriend doesn't play favorites (like I do) and he loves Casey as much as I do. But he also loves Tyson. I can't say that. I' up to Tyson. It's the constant whining that I can't take. Tyson will be part III of the cohabitation story, and by FAR the worst part.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Cohabitation - Part I

Let's talk about dysfunctional cohabitation. I wasn't going to blog about this, but after hearing my friend Kat(i)e in tears of laughter over my situation, I thought it might bring some entertainment to others. Unfortunately, there's so much to tell, that it will have to be done in stages.

I would just like to start by saying that I did not take the decision to move in with a boy lightly. I pondered it, mulled it over, worried about it incessantly, and considered what I thought was every issue that we could face. I then tried to determine whether or not we could handle the issues I conjured. Finally, after a subtle shove from a very diplomatic cousin, I took the plunge - confident that I had considered every angle.

I hadn't.

Let's start with Laney, shall we? Laney is my 6 year old cat. To be fair to her, Laney's world has been turned upside down in the span of 6 months. She was an only cat for the last three years (except for a brief stint when Maggie stayed with us. Poor Maggie. Let's all take a moment of silence for Maggie At least she's in a better place now). This is Laney. She looks evil, no?

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Being an only cat is just the way Laney likes it. She's the queen of the apartment. The only child that I could lavish attention upon - when she feels like having attention lavished upon her, that is. See, my cat loves me, but she's a complete b*tch to everyone else. This is including the boyfriend, and believe me, he's tried to get in her good graces. This is the same cat that took a dump right next to my brother's head when he stayed with me one night because he spent the majority of the evening harassing the cat (by harassing I mean "trying to pet her when Laney was not in the mood.") She's not the forgive and forget type. But I always said, "Love me, love my cat," and the boyfriend has gamely tried to win her favor.

Which brings us to our issue.

Until 6 months ago, Laney thought she was living the perfect cat life. Then I brought home this little puppy. No problem in the beginning - Laney was twice her size and beat the hell out of her. But then the puppy grew. And then Laney had to accept that the puppy appeared to be around for good. She slowly adjusted. They became, if not friends, at least roommates who were civil to each other.

Then I moved Laney into an entirely new apartment with a huge cat-eating monster who's made up entirely of teeth and tongue. (otherwise known as Tyson. I've posted a picture so you can see who he is.) This appears to be more than Laney can handle.

Now, we don't actually know if Tyson is a cat-eating monster. We just know that he shows an inordinate amount of interest in Laney whenever he sees her. The type of interest that causes him to lunge after her, chase her around, and be completely unfazed if she manages to slice open his cheek with her claws, hiss, growl, and puff into a cat twice her size. When we had Tyson/Laney round one, it was in a darkened room, so we're not entirely certain what happened before they were separated. We just know that in the aftermath, Laney was huddled in a ball with HUGE pupils, and she appeared to have been licked in several places (the HORROR!) Can you imagine what this does to a cat's dignity?

So, who does Laney blame for this horrendous living situation? She blames the boyfriend, of course. Entirely. He is now the bane of her existence. He is dead to her.

Except when he leaves clothing on the floor.

The first night in the new apartment, when we were getting ready for bed, the boyfriend threw his clothes on the floor. I picked them up and put them in the hamper. He said, "That's right. You have a hamper. I'll have to get used to that." At that time, it was just something for me to sigh and shake my head about. Boys are gross.

Now, it's a lesson that the boyfriend has had to learn perfectly and quickly. No mistakes. Because if he leaves ANY article of clothing on the floor, Laney has herself a pee party. Seriously. I think she saves her pee for just such occasions. It can be a sock, a shirt, or a duffle bag full of clothing that hasn't been unpacked. If it's on the floor, Laney will pee on it.

I can leave any type of clothing out, and its not touched.

We found this out about a week after moving in to the apartment. There were piles of the boyfriend's clothing in our bedroom that he hadn't yet put away. I came into the room to see him throwing them viciously into the hamper.


"That GODD**N cat pissed all over my clothes. They all smell like CAT PISS!"

(I tried so hard not to laugh.)

"I'm sorry. We'll wash them now and see if we can get the smell out." (I was trying to be optimistic for his sake. If anyone knows of a way to get the smell of cat pee out of fabric, please share suggestions)

A couple of days later, I happened to see Laney pawing at a duffle bag full of the boyfriend's clothes (on the floor of our closet.) I shooed her away - too late. After THAT incident, the boyfriend laid down the law. Cat is no longer allowed in the bedroom.

Laney continues to sleep with us every night.

Okay new law. Cat is only allowed in the bedroom when we're home. Whoever leaves last is responsible for getting the cat out of the bedroom.

This law was in place until the boyfriend was the last to leave the next day. When I came home that evening, Laney strolled out of the bedroom to greet me, and when the boyfriend got home, he showed me the battle scars all over his hands. One of the scratches was even in an L shape, just to remind the boyfriend not to try again.

Because she knows that Tyson is let out every morning, Laney disappears when the alarm goes off. I think she's lying in wait. If the boyfriend puts anything down on the ground, she appears within 5 seconds. It's like magic. He keeps yelling at her and telling her no. She just flattens her ears, and looks at him with narrowed eyes. I'm waiting for her to poop on his pillow one of these nights. She already pooped on the bathmat in our bathroom. While the boyfriend was in the shower. I told him to look at the bright side - at least he didn't step in it.
Yes, these are the issues we are facing with Laney. But she's not the worst one. There's more to come...