I’ve got two dogs. I guess I should have named them Dig and Chew because they dig everywhere and chew up everything.
I estimate they’ve done over three thousand dollars in property damage (that includes labor, too) in the past few years – chewing out the lattice on my deck, chewing the handrails – ruining the garden, including the vegetable garden my wife planted last year, costing us over three hundred dollars. There went the food we were supposed to eat, and none of those gardening supplies (nor the labor to put them in) are included in that three grand price tag.
They’ve chewed the wiring out from under the deck (finally taught them NOT to chew that thing by hooking it up to a 40k transformer, giving them the shock of their lives.) Chewed out the light bulbs as well from our low voltage lighting system; chewed the solar lighting.
And there isn’t a day that’s gone by that I’m not stepping in a hole somewhere – they dig small ones, big ones, and huge industrial trenches. One, in her young age, dug a trench one foot wide, a foot deep – and over thirty-five feet long. Fortunately the thing was in front of my shop; I’ve now got a new drainage ditch.
Not to mention their constant barking – these are dogs that bark most the night. It got so bad my neighbor complained, and I had them debarked. Would have done it myself if I’d had the anesthesia to put them under; I’m quite familiar with the procedure as I had done it as a small child, working in Army animal labs. (Yeah, I had a strange sort of childhood; everyone remembers.) Put them out, clip them cords – set ’em aside cuz’ your done. Nothing to it. Except in this case the cords grew back; the vet, he did a lousy job. That’s because he was using a biopsy punch whereas I was taught to use some sissors. Big difference in the results. And before you go thinking “My! That’s cruel!” – let me tell you something.
The dog don’t know he’s been debarked. Them silly things – they keep on barking – even though there’s no sound. They can’t tell the difference – and their happy. You are happy as well – especially if you are in a concrete room with thirty dogs barking, the sound bouncing all around you (that was in the animal labs) – so hard it’s hitting you almost like physical fists. Anyone who’s ever worked in an animal shelter knows what I’m talking about.
But these two dogs – they are testing my patience.
For the past few years it’s been the same sort of thing, over and over again. Barking all night until I put my earplugs in (like I said: their vocal cords grew back) – and then me getting up to find some damage in the morning.
Every morning it’s the same old thing: go out and find some hole. Some new damage. The yard strewn with trash when something blows in. More lattice (and that stuff’s expensive!) – torn from our once most beautiful deck. Half breaking an ankle while I go knee deep in some kind of dog pile.
Anyway, this morning I had had it. I was done with them. I flew into a rage again. They had had a party going on – over three hundred dollars of damage – all done in one swat – a huge hole in the middle of the garden which is in the middle of my deck (yeah, it’s a huge one; built it myself) – bird feeder cocked at an angle because they had dug the hole so deep; the lattice is chewed out where they wanted in – never MIND that they had a clear opening on the other side, an easy way of getting in – they could have just WALKED in, you know? But no, they chose this ‘chew the deck’ kind of thing.
And herein lies the problem. When I fly into a rage – I fly into a RAGE! It’s a really scary thing, and a bad thing besides. I get upset when I get into a rage; I break things, I can cause damage to myself and . . . well, not others, but things. As well as dogs sometimes.
You can see where this is going. And no, I didn’t lose my temper and hit them dogs (though I did rant and rage around the yard for about a half hour – before I went to work fixing what they did). But here’s the thing:
You can’t be happy if you’re mad, and you certainly can’t be happy when you are raging! Certainly not the type of raging I’ve done. It’s a really severe form of this thing. It was encouraged in the Marines, of course; it was ‘encouraged’ by our mother (by her simply doing this sort of thing; showing us how). And it’s infected our daughter: she rages sometimes, have a real difficult time controlling her anger (she’s been in therapy for that thing; does her no good – but I do, sometimes. I understand this sort of thing – and know how to defuse it).
And that’s the trick in this sort of thing: learning to defuse the anger before it even comes.
And I’m gonna tell you how.
By simply forgiving them.
That’s how we were able to overcome our rage this morning – by simply forgiving them. Forgiving them for being dogs and engaging in doggie behavior. Recognizing that they do me some good sometimes – under their thick coats are loyal hearts, and they’ll come sit with me on the steps most every time – sitting with me while I smoke my cigarette, one leaning in and one pawing for affection. These are big dogs, by the way; huge by some people’s standards. “Rescues”, strays – I take them all in . . . 15 or 16 in all (over the years that is). And these are two of the worst dogs I’ve ever owned in my life. To make things even more difficult for me, both of them are female. (I’ve always owned males before; they are more aggressive.) And they are sweet dogs in their heart. Loyal to a fault – and faulted they definitely most certainly and in the face of it and every facet, it is most definitely so. The most faulted dogs I have ever own.
But I need to learn to forgive them – just like I’ve been forgiving some other people for a long time. And I need to learn to do this within myself whenever I feel myself being mad.
Forgive them for being humans.
Forgive them for being dogs.
moving on . . .