I've had a hard time with this one. I haven't spoken of it nor written about it much.
"This one" is this issue that I am struggling with and that is thus: the pooch patrol.
The dogs have lived outside now for approximately 3 years. It started like this:
I got a blacklight and shined it upon the walls and found urine streaked up by the light switch. I had no idea how a dog or cat might achieve such startling height: I didn't like it. This didn't happen in front of me; as far as I knew the dogs and cat were house-trained.
I kicked them out and fled the house. I even bought new clothing. Urine was everywhere.
I thought about re-training. Umbilical training. I considered my values and my rescue work. I considered that I didn't consider lack of "house-training" a reason to force family members to live outside. I thought those owners were horrible. The inevitable outcome of such thinking is that I am horrible; or that, at the very least, I have acted horribly.
A few years later we connected the dots between the seizures and the urine. How high can a dog pee on his back seizing? Pretty fucking high.
How often would such a dog then mark over that smell?
And the dogs seemed happy. They had chosen, plenty of times, to stay outside instead of utilizing the dog door to come inside. Us humans had allergies. I justified and rationalized my way into breaking a core set of my own values.
Approximately 1 month ago I started looking for a new house.
A house came on the market that was perfect - it even had a place to let the dogs out for a quick bathroom trip. It did not have room for them to play and definitely not for them to live outside.
Could the dogs be indoor dogs again?
The house went pending. The conversation has come up in bits and pieces since then.
The conversation in my head has been non-stop.
Last night Elka stalked me on the patio as I moved within the house from room to room. She leaned against the slider, ear pressed hard against the glass, trying to be as close as doggily possible. She was a soggy mess. I wanted very much to let her in. I didn't care about the soggy mess nor the smell. The house could be cleaned.
This morning Elka and Milton leaned against me, snuggled, hugged as much as they could and solicited as much attention as I could give in the moments between their walk, breakfast, and coming inside. They stood there looking rejected as I came inside to get ready for work.
And I am struggling. My dogs are getting older. Mali passed away a few short months ago. I don't want the dogs to spend the rest of their lives forcibly separated from their pack. I don't want to spend the rest of their lives separated from an important part of my family.
I have played with ideas in my head. The subject of Astroturf came up. Grooming routines: I can't afford monthly pro grooming but I could get them used to said grooming and do it myself. Astroturf would avoid the mud issue. The dogs could be inside only when they are in the same room as a human being that can stop any ill behavior as they'll need to be re-housetrained. What about a covered astroturf area where they could play and do doggy stuff without getting muddy/smelly?
My dogs are essentially fresh rescues again in need of some form of re-training to be indoor family pets and I made that happen. I made those choices. After years of working closely with them, especially with Elka, I banished them outside.
I miss them terribly.
And I feel a generous helping of shame and guilt. I also miss the hell out of having them inside and part of the family. I miss having them come check in. I miss being able to sit on the floor and snuggle with them without the worry of the nasty weather. I miss bringing them in for landscapers and I miss offering the dogs the sanctuary and safety of the pack during thunderstorms and fireworks shows.
One of the harder parts of all of this is that I no longer feel like I am giving them the best home and quality of life that I can nor that I want to. Would they be better with another family? One that would let them inside?
I don't want to give them up; it's against much of what I spent years working toward and I love those dogs dearly.
This is what has occupied my mind since I got in the shower this morning after their 4:40am walk.
-Lisa, 2015-02-10, Comment