*Warning: do not read this if you have a weak stomach or a distain for dogs. It may make you queasy,
Last year, Jon and I brought home a tiny 8 week old Weimaraner. We together embarked on an adventure of Fur Parenthood.
Neither of us had ever had a Weim before, but we were looking for an active dog that would match our lifestyle. Jon wanted a running partner, we both thought a dog that could mountain bike alongside us would be cool, and the general thought of having an "active" dog didn't frighten either of us. We're active people, we concluded, and we didn't want a lazy animal.
"Active" might be the understatement of epic proportions, our little guy Pal grew into a 60 pound bouncing animal (small for an adult male, he was the runt of the litter) with a seemingly endless supply of energy. At this, the 10 month marker, we are actively exercising Pal almost 2 hours a day; often more. He naps rarely, he is curious always, and keeping him calm has been a special challenge for the two of us. We are told his energy will wane (a little) as he leaves puppyhood, in the interim we are quite literally (as Jon puts it so eloquently) "exercising the shit out of him."
A few months ago Pal was the unfortunate bystander and injured party of a brief but furious dog attack on Nose Hill, the ordeal leaving him with 12 stitches and a cone on his head. The vet instructed us to keep him calm, which felt like a request as unlikely as purchasing oceanfront property in Alberta. We worked for days to keep Pal "calm", cutting out his exercise almost entirely until he slowly and completely started going mad. The stitches opened, staples were added, one more week in the cone. We arrived back at the vet for our umpteenth appointment and I was surprised to notice that all the vets in the office, the front desk staff and the nurses all knew his name. When I inquired why, they informed me that Pal was a "frequent flier"- a dog that was often into something and needed medical attention. We shook our heads at each medical issue, telling our little grey beast what a character he was. He'd had two cases of Giardia, another separate case of GI issue and the stitches, staples and cone. Last Saturday I woke up and he moped around the house, whining. I took him out running and noticed he seemed to be having issues with- ahem- his backside.
I pondered for a short period of time if we could possibly afford another massive vet bill, but as the dog grew increasingly uncomfortable I made the executive decision to take him to the vet. We sat in the waiting room on a Saturday and then inside the examination room where a very young vet told me he'd need to manually examine the dog. I find myself plus one nurse pinning 60 pounds of squirming Pal firmly against an examination room door while the vet applied lubricant and inserted his fingers up Pal's butt, looking for the culprit of what was causing the angst.
The very kind vet informed me that he felt something "long and plastic-y" and proceeded to pull out a long series of wood pieces that were strung together like a pencil. Together as we examined the pile he informed me our dog was eating wood and this was causing him great distress, not to mention a blocked anus which had to be manually relieved.
Pal sat silently on the floor by the treat basket wagging his tail. He was no worse for wear, another vet bill was paid and off we went.
On Sunday morning I got up to run the Calgary Police Half when Pal started whining in his crate. Dealing with Pal was not part of my morning plan but I got up and let him out nonetheless, him following me around with his big eyes at 6am, as I was trying to dress, eat and get out the door to the race. He continued to sulk around getting under foot at every occasion, my patience wearing increasingly thin as I became later and later. We were less than 24 hours since the wood-being-pulled-out-of-the-ass issue; I fumbled with an earring and dropped it to the floor where he promptly swallowed it. No chewing, no waiting. Swallowed. I howled with frustration. You swallowed an earring? GREY BEAST! URAUGH!
Last night I wake and notice the clock says 4:45am; I hear Pal heaving in his crate next to the bed. With Jon gone I have to immediately rule out the option of turning over and saying, "your turn, babe" and instead turn on the light while Pal heaves and then vomits a small pile of Wood Puke. I'd like to write here that I was patient and kind, that I soothed him back to sleep, but I had a small temper tantrum instead, making a low growling noise while I pulled out his blankets and brought them to the wash, put clean ones back in and put him back in the crate. And then he cried. and cried. The clock ticked on. I counted backwards to when I would have to get up and go to swimming. I finally let him out of the crate and cuddled him until he fell back asleep. I found myself gradually nodding off. This is when my alarm went off.
Only a few more days of single fur parenthood I remind myself as we walk the dog park after dinner tonight. My intent was to tire him out, return home and hit more work. At our last stop as we exit the park Pal stops and squats. I go to pick up and notice on the top of the pile: my renegade earring.
I had a laugh, bent down and hugged the dog and kissed him behind his floppy ear, and loaded him into the car to go home.