The Unbearable Banishment: Another mouth to feed

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Another mouth to feed

The girls had been relentlessly hammering Mrs. Wife and I for a dog for quite some time. There’s been a big influx of puppies in our suburban enclave and it put ideas into their tiny little heads. We thought if we didn’t talk about it, their resolve would simply fade and dry up. We should have known better. A big thanks-for-nuthin’ to area parents who gave in too easily.

I had two Lower East Side Siamese cats for about 12 years. Women walked in and out of my life but those two cats were always there and happy to see me. I like cats. They’re graceful and mysterious. I admire their aloofness, which is the very thing that turns a lot of people off. Personally, I would prefer a cat. But since we live in a democracy, not a dictatorship, and I was outvoted 3-1, we got a dog.

You don’t just go out and buy a dog. It’s not like selecting a shirt or a sandwich. You have to conduct your due diligence. Each breed has a specific personality trait. (Who knew?!) Some breeds are better with kids than others. Mrs. Wife did all the research and heavy lifting. Originally, we wanted to rescue a dog from a shelter but each time we visited, our choices boiled down to either a pit bull or other psychologically questionable breed or a dog on its last legs. Apparently, the nice family-oriented breeds disappear almost immediately. Your timing has to be impeccable.

We ended up doing the very thing I wanted to avoid; we went to a breeder. I couldn’t see the sense paying a lot of money for a dog when there were free dogs littering the county. But if we were to get our kid-friendly breed of choice, we were going to have to pay for it. And pay we did.

I pictured our breeder living on a farm way out in the pretty New Jersey countryside. Ma and Pa would greet us at the door and take us out back to the barn where mama was nursing some of her pups in a big bale of hay while others frolicked and played in the blue open spaces. We got a recommendation for a breeder from a neighbor, punched the address into the GPS and headed out. It was no bucolic farm.

What we found at the end of the rainbow was a run-down house in a dicey neighborhood. We walked into a small living room that had the thick drapes drawn, blocking out all light. A massive flat screen TV that covered an entire wall was blasting Fox News. When we walked in, volume wasn’t lowered and no lights were illuminated.

We had put a deposit on a puppy back in November and she was just now old enough to take home. It felt like we were rescuing the her from a horrible place and that WE, in fact, were the ones who should be paid. But we were the ones who wrote out a check for $850.

This is Coco. She’s a chocolate cockapoo. If you pay $850 for a dog, it’s chocolate. If you get it from a shelter, it’s brown.


I’ve raised cats and I’ve raised dogs. Cats are a lot smarter. Coco is trying to consume our entire back yard. She eats grass, twigs, dirt, moss, little stones, sand, leaves and pretty much anything else she can get in her mouth. Can anyone tell me when this dog will stop being so dumb?


I’ve done an awful lot for the girls but nothing, and I mean NOTHING, has made them so happy as getting them a dog. I am away at work all day so Mrs. Wife is charged with the unpleasant task of training the dog. She’s doing an exemplary job. We are about to take Coco to dog school. The expenses will start to mount. But I think it’ll be worth it. I think it’ll be cool for the kids to grow up with a dog.

26 Comments:

Anonymous daisyfae said...

'bout time! all kids need dogs.

that pup will be there with them through so much girl-trauma. that dog will hear things they'll never tell you. that dog will absorb a million tears in her fur. and will entertain you endlessly with round after round of stupid...

wait til she starts barking at nothing other than weird, random signals she receives from the dog planet.

January 19, 2012 at 7:42 AM  
Blogger Sausage Fingers said...

Nice pooch mate, at least you don't have to send this one to college.
Cheers, Sasuage...

January 19, 2012 at 7:43 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

daisy: That was the rational for getting a dog vs. a cat. If you tell a cat your problems, you're more likely than not to bore him.

SF: Nice to see you. Had a good trip, I presume? Coco won't go to college but, nonetheless, she'll do her little doggy damage to my checking account.

January 19, 2012 at 8:14 AM  
Blogger Ponita in Real Life said...

Coco is very cute. But I still can't believe how things have changed! A Cockapoo is a mixed breed dog (Poodle Cocker Spaniel cross) and they are priced like a purebred. Used to be people would sell the pups for about $25.

But never mind that. You have Coco. Your girls are thrilled. Mrs. Wife is working hard to make Coco a good member of the family. Just don't forget that Coco is a kid too. Dogs explore their environments with their mouths. A good plan is to teach the dog to "drop it!" because she may end up eating something bad for her. Also taking away whatever she's not supposed to be chewing on and sticking one of her own toys into her mouth helps too.

You, Mrs. Wife and your girls need to be the pack leaders. If you haven't already been watching The Dog Whisperer, get some of his DVDs on raising a dog, or his books, and take it from there. That book by the Monks of New Skete is also a good reference.

It will take a while, but as Coco grows up and you all keep reminding her of the rules, boundaries and expectations of being a good dog, she will become just that.

Good luck!!!

January 19, 2012 at 9:42 AM  
Blogger Kono said...

Oddly enough i am a cat guy, currently i have 3, like you said cats are smart and independent, they kill for sport, to please their master and to occasionally eat, it was Bill Burroughs who said he despised dogs basically because they reminded him of people, they are needy, dependent and stupid, (i happen to agree with Bill) i know someday i'll have this conversation with the boyos and if i'm forced to give in the only dog we'll get is a boxer, that's already been settled, i don't envy you one bit but hey at least the kids are happy right? and that ought to count for something.

January 19, 2012 at 10:03 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Ponita: Listen, I had people tell me that I was lucky that I didn't pay over $1,000! That's a moot point. I wouldn't have. You're recommendations made me chuckle. We've already watched the Dog Whisperer episode on puppies and Mrs. Wife is reading the Monk book. She says it's been tremendously helpful.

kono: The kids being happy counts for EVERYTHING. You'll see. I hope this comments section doesn't dissolve into a cats vs. dogs battleground. Calling dogs stupid is kind of hardcore but they do seem unnecessarily needy.

January 19, 2012 at 10:12 AM  
Blogger Pat said...

You are so right about the importance of getting the right dog. I've had three - two I adored and one who had me on the verge of a nervous breakdown.
Coco looks like the perfect addition to your family and love will abound.
BTW I'm back - please don't go anywhere:)

January 19, 2012 at 11:34 AM  
Blogger savannah said...

congratulations! the MITM & i are in that awkward stage of life, already have 2 granddogs, but waiting for 2 grandchildren to be born this year, so no puppies for me! i've already spoiled ghost face killa and Moxie, so i'm in training for spoiling the babies mode. xoxoxoxox

January 19, 2012 at 11:43 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Pat: It killed me to shell out that kind of money for a dog but I think it bought us some peace of mind. We know what to expect vs. a ticking bomb. And thank you for your kind words.

sav: I see you're working your way up the evolutionary ladder; first dogs and then babies. That's the proper chain of events. We did it backwards.

January 19, 2012 at 12:33 PM  
Blogger Ponita in Real Life said...

Glad you and Mrs. Wife are on the right track!

Dogs are needy because they are pack members. Not stupid. Cats are loners, except when we force them to live in our houses together. Then they mostly get along (or not). I've had both dogs and cats all my life, and I like both, but for different reasons.

Right now, I am a cat lady. If you can call someone with two cats a cat lady. Here in my city, you generally need at least 30 to earn that title. ;-)

January 19, 2012 at 2:13 PM  
Anonymous dinahmow said...

I've been waiting for the Coco shoot...sweet!
And I'd say you DID get a rescue puppy.Fox News in a darkened room? *shudder*

January 19, 2012 at 2:35 PM  
Blogger Jerry E Beuterbaugh said...

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January 20, 2012 at 3:38 AM  
Anonymous Sid said...

I'm a cat person myself. (Evidence of this is littered all over my blog.) But this little mofo is adorable. So cute. Not sure I'd pay R800 for it, let alone $800, though.

January 20, 2012 at 4:22 AM  
Blogger Please Don't Eat With Your Mouth Open said...

We have two dogs at my family home. I like all animals, cats, horses, rabbits, whatever - but dogs get people out of the house for walks and I like that. I go home now to see my parents, but also because my dogs are at home and when I walk in they are ALWAYS like "OH MY GOD, YOU CAME BACK!!!!!" and go nuts.

They're also a great excuses not to go places or to leave bad parties early, and a fabulous talking point when you've got guests round and the conversation dries up. You wait. The benefits of a dog are endless.

January 20, 2012 at 5:05 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Ponita: Two cats does not a cat lady make. I had two cats for a long time and didn't feel all that cat-man stuff.

dinah: The breeder's home was so creepy that I was worried about getting a defective product, but Coco seems about as normal as any $850 puppy, I suppose.

Jerry: Well, it's about time! Oh...I mean...um...thank you very much for the accolade.

Sid: There's something about cats, isn't there? I like looking at them sitting in a beam of sun. They're like beautiful living sculpture.

Jo: I am well familiar with your dogs. You've written about them extensively. I also know that you won't date a man who doesn't like dogs. Now, THAT'S devotion.

January 20, 2012 at 6:57 AM  
Blogger Adam Kenny said...

Congratulations! Coco is adorable. Much luck to you/the Mrs. and the girls raising her and having her turn your quartet into a party of five. Kids and dogs are great together. Enjoy!

January 20, 2012 at 7:00 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Thanks, Adam. What could POSSIBLY go wrong?! Yet another in a long list of accommodations for the kiddies. It's a pleasure.

January 20, 2012 at 7:03 AM  
Blogger Jerry E Beuterbaugh said...

@TUB: LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

January 20, 2012 at 8:12 AM  
Blogger nursemyra said...

He's very cute. But not as cute as my Siamese cat.

January 20, 2012 at 9:16 PM  
Blogger Ellie said...

Ditto what Jo said!

I'd waiting for an abandoned kitten to enter my life next so I can see the friendship between Dog and Kitten grow. (Of course, that is fantasy).

January 21, 2012 at 7:31 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

nurse: What's your cats name? Siamese are very gabby cats. They have a lot on their minds. A lot to say.

Ellie: I don't think it's so far fetched. I hope it happens. It'll make for some interesting posts.

January 21, 2012 at 8:12 AM  
Anonymous Dolce said...

Tooo cute! I've just had a squishy aawwwww moment.

January 21, 2012 at 2:46 PM  
Blogger Here In Franklin said...

Dog rearing has gotten lots more complicated, not to mention expensive, since I was your girls age. Our dogs always lived outside, roamed freely and never saw the inside of a cage. They accompanied us on treks thru the woods and took active roles in all our outdoor games. But we lived in the country, so it was a different world from New Jersey.

January 22, 2012 at 9:45 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Dolce: Between the three girls, there is an overabundance of squishy moments here. I'm drowning in the estrogen sea.

HIF: That's an excellent metaphor for life itself. Hasn't pretty much everything gotten more complicated? For instance, technology was supposed to set us free. Yesterday I saw someone at my gym texting between reps. How messy is that?!

January 22, 2012 at 10:58 AM  
Blogger Miss Milk said...

Fantastic move! Dogs are amazing, and cockapoos adorable. I don't believe cats are any more clever, they are simply more sociopathic. A let's not forget that dogs are not the only species to put anything and everything into their mouths as babies...

February 4, 2012 at 9:28 AM  
Blogger Miss Milk said...

*and

Also, PDEWYMO is right. No better feeling on a bad day (and a good day) to know that there's always someone overjoyed to see you.

February 4, 2012 at 9:39 AM  

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