**Disclaimer: I'm too lazy to proofread this today. Withdrawal will do that to ya! :)
If you had to list a top five facts list about Rachel, coming in shortly after, “her brain is all kinds of fucked up,” would be “dear god she’s annoyingly fond of animals.” I’m not just the kind of animal-lover that veers into loving rodents and ugly animals, I rescue most spiders and bugs with a paper towel, and put them back outside. The only time I kill them is if they are infestation-type bugs, like roaches or ants, because I don’t want a herd of them living in my cabinets, eating all my flour. If only because if all my flour is gone, I won’t be able to make cake.
I’ve never surrendered a pet. Okay, I’m lying. Once, I surrendered a bird. But, to be fair, I’m not so much sure that this was a bird. I think it was a minion of the antichrist. It was when I was first married to my first husband, who was the actual antichrist. I kid. He was a lovely person, but I didn’t love him and should’ve listened to my gut about marrying that boy. When you are hysterically sobbing in the car, on the way to the justice of the peace, saying to him, “no, no, no, no,” maybe it’s a good idea to take that second thought seriously, even if he says, “you’ll grow to love me.” I didn’t
I digress, I got that bird, mostly because he had a dog. I know that doesn’t make sense; but, it made me lonely. He had a dog that was his. I had Homer by then. But, I wasn’t raised on animals very well. I was taught to be okay-ish to animals, but that they were there primarily for our entertainment, not that they had their own feelings and desires. You should be nice to them, of course, but only insomuch as they should do your bidding. Not sociopathy, obviously; but, not exactly an oasis for the fury, scaly and feathered.
My dad brought home a box of lizards from Florida once, for example; we all gleefully watched them fly through the air as we flung them off the blades of the ceiling fan when we turned it on. Or, we tied little strings to their backs, and watched them buck as we “leash” trained them; their tails broke off as they tried to escape our reign of tyranny, of course. The worst (yeah, there’s more) was that we’d make a “u” with a leather belt, rest a lizard in the bottom, and then snap it straight, so the lizard would fling up in the air, wildly. Watching them fly through the air like little green stars was wildly amusing; but, it makes me sick to think of the terror of those poor little guys, now. They looked like green versions of Maggie Simpson, but with tails.
So, because Homer didn’t adore me, as he does now, as I spent much of my time oohing about how cute he was after I shoved him in boxes (because cats in boxes are cute), or forced him into my lap, I was bummed that I didn’t have a pet friend.
How I formerly treated my kitty. He wasn't a fan.
My husband had an adoring dog, and I had a cat that rightfully hid from me. Bryon had a lot to do with fixing my outlook on animals. Thank goodness! So, the bird. Oh boy, that bird.
The bird was a hand-fed cockatiel. It was a monster. I followed all the instructions about handling it. Still, it tried to kill me anytime I got near it. For months, I played with it while it tried to kill me. It would try to peck your eyes out, claw at you or communicate with the depths of hell from which it came, to conjure up more of its minion friends. Then, came the shit throwing. I kid you not. If you came near its cage, it would leap down from its perch pick up shit, seed or whatever it could find, and fling it through its bars at you, or anywhere it could reach. Because the food the store recommended was brightly colored, my living room, and the wall behind its cage was covered in multicolored spatters of shit, as it made its way through his system as dyed poop. It was, at least, a lovely modern art piece, sort of. Soon, it discovered that screeching, not joyful chirping as I’d envisioned, was a lovely way to drive us all crazy. All. Day. Long.
Alas, the bird went to the shelter. I felt so badly about it. But, I had resorted to telling the bird that it was night-night time all day and night, by covering his cage practically 24-7. The poor thing was “up” for only about a half-hour a day. I’d given up on handling it, because I wanted to live. Because these birds can live between 15 and 25 years, I knew only one of us would survive. I didn’t want to torture the poor thing by giving it only thirty minutes of light a day. So, bye-bye birdie. I had kept him for about a year, and tried everything up to that point; bought books and tried all the behavior and diet adjustments, moved his cage, handled him, didn’t handle him, you name it. He was just a meanie that needed someone better with birds. Or an exorcism. But, that’s the only time I’ve ever given up an animal. It’s also the only time I’ve thought of giving up an animal.
We’ve seriously considered re-homing Collin’s hamster for a while now. Collin’s anger issues, especially in his own room, are serious. When he’s white-hot with rage, he can’t make decisions that are for anyone’s good, and he’s thrown very heavy objects near that cage. We’ve removed the hamster from his room before, and that doesn’t help at all. He’s still in danger. I think we’ve gotten to a good point with Frodo, but we’ll see. I’m torn between leaving him with the childhood memory of his parents re-homing his hamster on him; or worse, leaving him with the memory of that time he, accidentally, killed his hamster, when he threw a chair at his mother, and she ducked (true story).
But, this isn’t about Frodo. This is about Daphne. Sweet, stupid, stinky, adoring, wonderful Daphne. For months, we haven’t even been able to speak the idea aloud to one another. But, things have gotten so bad that we finally had to have a discussion about it. We had to talk about it. We had to bring it to the table and talk. And, I had to call a Great Dane Rescue organization yesterday. I was in tears talking to her. I was devastated.
First, let’s talk positives. They have a waiting list of qualified families just waiting for a dog like Daphne.
That means, if and when, we are ready to surrender her, she’ll get a good home immediately, and we won’t have to worry about her. Yeah, right. Next, she’s a perfect candidate for adoption. After talking to the woman who runs the rescue, she said that Daphne is a great dog. Duh.
And, she gave me suggestions that I’d not thought of to solve our problem, so that we could keep her. It was lovely to talk to someone who didn’t think I was trying to unload our problem, that knew that we were devastated to even consider giving her up, that we were only doing this because we wanted our girl to be happy, something we didn’t think we were providing for her any longer.
I should backtrack, huh? Several months ago, before the kitten (I know, that’s the most obvious go-to cause), Daphne started acting weird. Her usual routine is to get up, eat, go potty, nap all morning, go out at about 11 am, then nap till evening, eat, then go to bed. Great Danes are E-A-S-Y. At some point in the evening, she meanders around the house, and then at around 7, she frantically zooms around the living room for about 60-90 seconds. Great Dane “zoomies.”
I don't have a good video of Daphne's zoomies because hers never last more than about sixty seconds, and I just don't get the camera going in time! But, she does exactly this, roughly every day!
Throughout the day, she may get up to wander around the house, looking for someone, anyone, to pet her. She’ll take it from anyone, she’s not particular: me, Collin, Bryon, the man robbing the house, makes no difference to her. She’s a bit of a petting slut. And, if she smells you cooking or eating something, she’ll insist that you share with her; but, for the most part, she’s a piece of furniture with a raging toe fungus that we can’t seem to get under control.
But, about six months ago, she started what we call a game of “inside-outside.” She insists on going outside anywhere between 10 and 20 times a day. This doesn’t sound like a problem, no wait, it does. That’s excessive. And, we don’t have a fence; so, she can’t just be let out alone till her heart’s contended, because of her issues with small dogs. She doesn’t have to go potty, and she’s not sick. She just wants to be outside. She wants to sniff the air; visit her friend, the tree that she loves so much, she won’t pee on it; and, stand regally in the sunlight, waiting for someone to come photograph her for a dog calendar.
When it first started, I was convinced that her primary goal was to irritate me. All I was beginning to say, all day was, “You just went out!” You can’t ignore a Great Dane who is asking for something. Of course, they whine, like other dogs. But, they also get in your way. Unlike say, a Dachshund, Daphne is capable of, literally, blocking my path to the bathroom. Her new thing is to come into the bathroom, to demand to play inside-outside. Our bathroom is barely big enough for Bryon and I, what with its spacious single sink and stall shower.
Walking her more didn’t help. Yelling at her in frustration didn’t help. Attention and extra love, didn’t help. ThunderShirt didn’t help. Convincing her that the inside was where it was at, with toys, games and entertainment, didn’t help. Hiding from her didn’t help. Feigning sleep didn’t help. Playing dead didn’t help. Selling her to the gypsies didn’t help.
Our dog who I’ve seen demand an umbrella, or held it for 18 hours, happily stood in the rain for thirty minutes at a time, recently, just to be outside. That was an especially pleasant day. 120-lbs of wet dog, treating my living room rug like a towel. Ah, the smell. It was becoming pretty clear that what she wants is just to be outside. This is something we cannot provide to her, not while we are living here. I felt like it was time to consider what Daphne wanted and needed, not what we wanted and needed, by keeping her, and what was best for Daphne.
We’ve racked our brains to try to figure out what’s changed in the house to make her feel so strongly about wanting to be out instead of in. We’ve not changed so much as a lampshade around the time this started. It can’t be any of the obvious things like not liking Collin’s tantrums, because they’ve always been here, and she’s snored right through them, her whole life. Or the new cat, who she sniffs with pleasure, and with a wagging tail, every day. Maybe she’s just really sensitive to a neighbor’s perfume. Who knows? She’s always preferred in. She barely liked being outside, away from us, for as long as it took her to go potty, before.
All I know is that we’re not providing her with something she needs, and it’s devastating. Moreover, her desire to be outside is disruptive to the whole family. We can’t get through an hour without having to let the dog out, and let the dog in. Someone is always standing outside with her. It’s not just a nuisance, she’s occupying a large portion of every day. She’s the center of attention. Daphne wants out. Daphne wants in. Who’s watching Daphne? Again?!
The woman who runs the rescue suggested an electric fence, despite both of our misgivings about them. A shock is the last resort in training, especially from an experienced trainer. But, in a case like this, where you have no other options, except re-homing an animal, it’s an option. It makes me sick to my stomach to think of it; but, it makes me sicker to think of driving to Northern California to surrender my dog, and coming home to a house without Daphne in it. Holy hell that would be a rough ride home.
I’m willing to try anything to keep my dog both with me, and happy. We will keep her tied up as well, obviously. We’d never risk anyone’s safety, even yappy dogs’, by relying on an arbitrary barrier and a 120-lb killing machine. Hah, Daphne, a killing machine! The rescue woman pointed out that her “attacks” on smaller dogs prove that she’s not even dog-aggressive because she’s not harmed another dog. Great Danes aren’t just large breed dogs, they are giant breed dogs, and they can kill a small dog with one swipe of a paw, or one bite in their powerful jaws. If she attacked two small dogs and didn’t kill them, she’s capable of restraint, and she isn’t attacking to kill. She knows what she’s doing. It made me feel so much better about my sweet girl.
The rescue woman said that Daphne is a walking commodity. She's good with animals, kids and isn't food aggressive.
She’s a perfect dog for adoption. I know. She’s perfect for us. Wish us luck with her! We love her and can’t wait to keep her!