Our Poodle, Jack-Ass

It’s been months since we’ve been able to leave our apartment without Oliver. When we try he goes insane, screaming, barking, howling like a baby wolf who has been abandoned and left for dead. I try to reassure him that we’re only going to have a drink, or go out on a date, but he doesn’t get it. Our landlord who lives downstairs from us doesn’t seem to get it either. One bark and our phone is exploding with messages demanding we come home and stop our dog from violating his ears. I get it. His bark is a piercing siren, the sound could stop an old lady’s heart.

Still, as much as I understand how annoying my dog can be, it doesn’t stop me from wanting some time alone with my husband. Since I’ve returned to Italy, I haven’t had a date with him. No time alone, no peace, simply us and Oliver tethered to our table whining and kicking us with his dirty feet asking for attention   or begging for hand-outs. While we love him, sometimes it takes all of our energy not to kill him. He’s really cute, but he’s a total Jack-ass.

His separation anxiety is genetic to some degree, apparently Poodles are famous for their hysteria. The other part is my fault for attaching myself to him constantly when he was a baby. This was because we lived in an apartment with someone who believes in spanking dogs, while I don’t. I do believe in spanking kids, but that’s neither here nor there. Anyhow, smacking an eight week old puppy seems insane to me, and I wasn’t willing to leave him home without me just in case. So, the only other thing to do was to take him with me everywhere. For the first six months of his life he was never home for even a moment alone. His only “alone” time was if I showered with my husband (then boyfriend). And that only meant he had to sit outside of the shower, but he still stayed in the bathroom, just outside of the curtain,  howling bloody murder. Eventually I could pee alone, and shower alone, and for about four months I could even leave him home alone just fine. But then we moved, and the move was traumatic for him, and now it’s like living with a crack addicted version of Woody Allen or a controlling, needy boyfriend. Whenever I go to the bathroom he watches me out of the corner of his eye, if I go near the door he starts to shake violently, and if I leave a banshee crawls out of his mouth.

What to do? In fact, taking him with us wouldn’t be that big of a deal if he were so crazy. But he barks, and wiggles, and most annoyingly everyone wants to play with him. So, my husband and I have to sit through a romantic dinner with five different people stopping by our table regularly to play with him. It’s almost always the wait staff. “Ooooh, loooook! He’s so cute!” And then before we can object they are ignoring their other tables to sit on the ground and play with him. It makes for awkward conversation.

It seems ridiculous but it’s actually impossible to fix the situation. We can’t crate him and teach him that when he is calm he can come out. We can leave him home to bark it out. So, right now, because our landlord lives downstairs, we have to look for a dog sitter or bring our attention whore with us. Let me just add, our landlord spends hours every day screaming at his ex wife on the phone, and three other tenants here are in music school. So, we get the pleasure of listening to lady upstairs fuck up on her piano from three to nine every evening, and the other dipshit across the garden sings Pavarotti on his balcony at two a.m., but our dog cannot bark. I get it, I do, noise sucks, but it should be all noise. Why can a baby cry all night long, but Oliver can’t bark for one hour, one per week? I hate the sound of babies crying. It’s actually one reason I’m not sure I’ll ever have kids. The sound of a baby crying puts me into some strange mode where I want to identify the weak creature and destroy it. My mother instincts seem to be Darwinian at best. Maybe that’s because I don’t have kids. I do have six brothers and sisters who survived me, and actually I would even say I’m pretty good with them. Not the best, but good.

It’s pathetic when our dreams have went from: An MBA from Harvard for F, and a book contract for me, to getting Oliver over his separation anxiety. This must be what it feels like to be a parent. I feel deprived and frustrated, yet somehow, he’s worth it so I let him live, and love him even. Still, I want some cocky dog whisperer to show up at my door and help me rehabilitate my disabled dog. I need time away. A break. A vacation. Some time without Oliver the Jackass.




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