The Story of Stinkydog | April 2003

 

What in the heck am I going to write about this month? What can I write about? What… oh, never mind. I’m sure you get the picture.

But boy am I stumped.

I once filled an entire column with nothing. That’s right, I wrote about nothing. Filled a whole (or should that be “hole?”) column with nothing. Even wrote a poem about nothing as part of that particular column.

Marlene Adams, editor of the Flamenco, wasn’t amused then. And by now, Marlene is probably not amused either. I’m sure–if she’s reading this at all–she’s probably thinking, “Oh no, here we go again! For this I extended that idio–er, I mean, his deadline!”

Sorry Marlene. But I really am stumped. In fact, I’m writing this as I download a bunch of free programs for my computer, from the Internet. Mostly security-type utilities, such as programs to defeat hackers, stop those ever-annoying pop-up windows, etc.

Not to give anyone a plug, but if you’re an Internet geek like I am, you should visit this site. The web address is: http://downloads-zdnet.com.com/. No, that’s not a typo, there are two “.com’s” in there. You can specifically ask it to list free software (of which there is plenty). And if you’re into Macintosh computers (I used to have one and prefer them but they’re soooo pricey) they have plenty of freebies too.

Anyway, enough plugging websites–especially since they’re not paying me (although I did get a bunch of useful freebies through them).



Maybe I can get into my work. Some of you already know I work for the… Nah, I could get into trouble, especially since media/public relations is my job and here I go and almost mention my employer by name, without any authority by my bosses to do so. No, I can say this with one-hundred percent certainty (and if you’ve read several of my columns you’ll agree): I can’t afford to lose my day job.

The work itself is interesting. Not to use a cliche, but… there’s never a dull moment. I’ll go into work at 8:00AM with the whole day planned out a certain way, and by 10:00AM I might find myself on the far end of town handling media, the last thing I thought I’d be doing that day. One thing about the media, though: some of the people I’ve met in the media, it’s just scary to think they literally have the power to ruin someone’s life or career. It’s a good thing I’m not a big enough fish for them to want to fry me.



I’m a little ticked off by now. I had started to write that the previous segments weren’t really much of a column, so I got into the story of how we got Gladys, our dog.

Then–lightning struck. Literally. And I was reminded yet again–the hard way, yet again–that when you work on a computer, you should CONSTANTLY save your work. Ctrl-S, Ctrl-S, Ctrl-S. That’s my mantra. I paid the price for not practicing what I preach.

So here I go again, on the story of how we got Gladys (Ctrl-S)…

JulieAnn and I were living in different cities (she in Denver, me in Miami) and were finalizing our plans for her to move here to be with me late last year, at the same time that I was closing on the condo where we’d live. It was a very stressful time all around. In the middle of all this, JulieAnn’s old dog Gabby was getting into such bad shape that she just decided to put Gabby to sleep.

Now Gabby wasn’t just any dog. JulieAnn and her veterinarian at the time estimated that Gabby was four years old when JulieAnn got her. That was when JulieAnn was in college, about 17 years ago now. So that puts Gabby’s estimated age at about 20, an extraordinarily long time for a dog.

As you could expect–especially if you’ve ever had a dog–they had an extraordinary bond. So it wasn’t an easy decision for JulieAnn to make.

I’ve never had a dog before, or any pet other than tropical fish. My ex-wife had cats and dogs, but they were always hers and besides, we were married, what, all of nine months? And no, it was not Monotony, I’ll tell you that. Believe you me, I would’ve preferred “Monotony,” in my ex-wife’s case.

JulieAnn, however, has always had dogs. So, after she moved here, with the holidays looming, I told her I’d like to get her a dog as a gift. I told her over lunch one Saturday and she cried.

JulieAnn had always advocated getting a dog from a shelter, so that’s where we went. The first trip we made, she didn’t really “fall in love” with any of the dogs there, but I spotted a little black and white dog who seemed friendly without being obnoxious.

The next time we went, the little black and white dog was still there, still friendly, still nowhere near as obnoxious as many of the other small dogs, who would yap until you thought their lungs were shot, and then they’d yap some more. JulieAnn saw a little shaggy terrier she liked, but I pointed out the little black and white dog (a short-haired rat terrier mix).

JulieAnn’s true preference would’ve been a large dog–outside of Gabby, every dog she’d ever had was big–but the condo association has a rule saying no pets weighing more than 25 pounds are allowed (never mind that we’ve seen several residents here with dogs bigger than 25 pounds, including pit bulls, Dalmatians, German Shepherds, etc.).

So we went to the front counter to check the availability of the little shaggy dog and the black and white. It turned out JulieAnn’s first choice, the shaggy dog, had already been adopted, but not so the black and white dog. JulieAnn “christened” her Gladys, and because the shelter insists on fixing all dogs before an adoption–and also because it was the middle of the holidays–we’d have to wait until the New Year to take Gladys home.

It became clear shortly after we took her home that Gladys was more my dog. My first ever dog! And boy, talk about a steep learning curve…

We were to learn quickly how neurotic Gladys could be. Especially with potty training.

At first, Gladys seemed real easy with this. JulieAnn saw Gladys start to squat shortly after we brought her home, she picked her up, took her outside, and there Gladys did her business. Simple.

Gladys seemed to pick up on this. She’d indicate she had to go, and we’d take her out to our tiny lawn, and she’d do her business. End of story.

But then one day it rained.

One morning when JulieAnn and I were both in a rush to get out the door–she to go to school, me to go to work–it was raining. We tried to get Gladys to go outside, but nothing doing. Nothing worked–not treats, not petting, nothing.

Gladys was like this for several days. The only time she’d go would be at night, when I’d take her for a walk–and then she’d go like there was no tomorrow. A couple of times we’d get home only to find Gladys had left us a nice, er, um, “surprise.”

And that wasn’t all. We soon found out that Gladys suffered from serious “separation anxiety.” She’d ignore the gazillion chew toys I had gotten her and instead turn her little bed into shredded foam. Ditto for JulieAnn’s nice sandals–three pairs worth. And then there was JulieAnn’s cell phone charger cord–while it was plugged into the wall.

Neither of us wanted to do it, but it became apparent that given our busy schedules, we’d have to keep Gladys in a crate while we were gone. Frankly, we couldn’t trust her alone in the condo. We were afraid we’d come home one day to a real hot dog.

I did some research on crate training and learned that it wasn’t as bad as it sounds. JulieAnn and I agreed that we’d only keep her in there when no one was home, that we’d keep Gladys in the crate for the shortest amount of time possible (fortunately, JulieAnn gets home early from school) and–as most experts suggest–we’d keep the crate’s door open when we were home so Gladys could get used to it being her little “sanctuary’ of sorts.

Luckily, Gladys took it well. The crate seems to help her calm down, and she’ll go in it voluntarily–even when we’re home–when she just wants to “veg out” and be by herself.

Of course, she’s spoiled as heck. I get her new toys all the time (which, like human kids, she ignores after two minutes), I’m always giving her treats and snacks and I pet her like crazy.

When I get home, she’s at the door, her little tail wagging at a hundred miles an hour, pawing at my hand for me to pet her. When I sit down on the couch, she’ll run up to me, jump on the couch, sit down next to me, and lay her little head on my lap. I never, ever knew having a dog could be so much joy.

It’s a good thing Gladys doesn’t know what her nickname, “Stinkydog,” means.