Friday, January 8, 2010

Empty Pen

The host family just came and went... Great family. Caring mom (didn't see the dad), 2 kids and 1 baby, big landed house with garden and swimming pool, and 2 maids to clean up after Pumpkin.

Anyone who knows logic knows that the dog's gonna get a better deal.

Momo came over and helped me with packing all of her stuff. Folded up her toilet (it's a cage). Pumpkin KNEW. She knew she was gonna be gone away from me again. She just sat there and didn't move. Normally she won't stop zipping around. She won't hop on my lap when asked.

But everything was so cheery when the family came over... Kids won't stop asking me questions. And I was fine (if not a bit grumpy) all the way till dinner was over.

Then I came home and her pen is empty. Devoid of Pumpkin.

Fucking hit me like a tsunami. And suddenly I don't even remember why I gave her away. I just want her back again on my lap chewing a toy.

I DON'T UNDERSTAND. I love her, yet I resent her.

I made this decision after wavering for 8 months, and I'm yet I'm so upset about it.

Yeah I know. Then don't give her away lah! But I'm not truly happy having her, because I know she is unhappy having me.

Let make this clear.

This is NOT about responsibility.

There is no saying that people cannot give their dogs away to BETTER homes.

I'm not trying to be defensive either. It's the truth.

You are not the dog, you'd never know if they are happier or upset to be so called 'abandoned'. But I, as her owner, have seen how unhappy she is caged in a pen. Even if she does love me, I believe she would love freedom even more. Nobody wants to spend their life in a pen.

RESPONSIBILITY is knowing you have to take care of your dog for the rest of its life when you buy it. It is to feed the dog, bring it to the vet, pay for hospital bills.

It means that when nobody else wants the dog, you still have to take care of it, and not abandon it on the streets or put it to sleep.

It also means trying to give the maximum amount of happiness you CAN to the dog. But therein lies the problem.

How much happiness should you sacrifice of your own to give happiness to the dog?

Dogs are afterall our companions. When people preach about being kind to animals, it must also be reasonable, right?

I cannot possibly quit my job, reject all overseas trips and bring her for walks 6 times a day. I cannot spend ALL my income on luxurious food for her and to build a dog castle for her.

While I want Pumpkin to be happy, I must also be happy.

And therefore, to this equation, I choose to give her away to give maximum happiness to both of us.

There are great animal lovers who would do any sacrifice for their pets, sure. But these people cannot expect that everyone will be the same as them.

Are people who are willing to sacrifice less for their dogs less privileged to own a dog? Are the sacrificial people's dogs necessarily happier?

For every dog lover there is another dog lover out there who is even more outrageous. Which tier do we stop at for people who have no business owning dogs? Lastly, who are these people to judge?

There. I stopped being emo and am all logical again.

From now on I will reject all foolish superficial comments regarding how selfish, irresponsible, heartless and altogether evil I am.

It cannot be clearer that whilst I'm not doing a NOBLE thing, I'm not doing anything bad either.

Giving away a pet is a big social stigma. And as such, I felt guilty. But I'm not anymore. Because I know I've given my pet great care and I took responsibility in finding future security and comfort for her. I don't have to prove anything to anyone. As long as I know.

If it's a question of nobody wanting my dog and me having to either put her down or throw her on the streets, I'd never do it. I'd still take care of her, even if I HATED doing it.

The Mom of PK's new family looked me in the eye, said thanks for giving Pumpkin to them (which her son was cuddling), and for giving joy to her family. They are happy.

Well I'm not happy, but I'm relieved. I'm relieved that I no longer have to deal with drama (pee accidents, hurt when I feel she doesn't love me etc). I'm relieved I no longer have to walk pass Pumpkin's locked pen and see her woebegone face. And yes. We are talking about my happiness. My happiness IS important too.

As for the dog, she seemed to get on with it just fine once she saw the new family. Didn't even notice when I was gone.


1 year. My relationship with Pumpkin is longer than I had with any ex-boyfriends beside Mike. I miss her little ways and I can't get her furry face out of my mind. This feeling sucks balls.

I wish someone wrote this guide for me before I bought her, so here goes:


1) Your dog will become your new best friend.

Not true. Not all dogs are loyal and loving like Marley. Some dogs are very independent and won't care if you walk into a room, some dogs are very slutty and love everyone they meet. Some dogs are noisy and attention-seeking, some are hermits.

It's not about YOU or how you treat the dog. It's just the dog's character. How do I know? I base this on people I know who have dogS. Treat both dogs equal, but they treat you back differently. If you get a loving, loyal dog, great for you. Or maybe you WANT an independent dog. Hopefully you'd get it. But don't go about expecting it.

2) Destroying your previous items

Dogs will gnaw on anything they can get their paws on. They chew on papers, sometimes their own pee pads. It's mad gross. Friend once left a ciggie on the floor and Pumpkin ate it. She vomited afterwards. My specs were somehow dropped and she bit it... Had to be thrown away.

When you come home from work your best shoes may be in tatters. Handle of favourite LV bag broken. Some dogs bite on furniture even. They dig up gardens...

They flip over garbage bins and eat their findings. My friend said her dog is fond of eating up her baby's (human baby) used diapers! Cloudy used to eat my dinners when my mom left my food on the kitchen table.

And it's up to you to prevent all these from happening by keeping everything out of their reach. However, before you learn your lesson, be prepared to lose at least SOME items and pull all your hairs out.

3) Shit and pee: Got a maid? Skip 3 altogether. If not...

a) Indoor elimination:

The cleaning of the shit and pee WILL get to you. Eventually. Be it paper training, or pee pads... Because it's never just a simple business of picking up the shit and pee.

Dogs are never 100% accurate. SOME very disciplined dogs are about 99% accurate, but even with fanatical training like I did with Pumpkin, she's only 80% accurate. When I bought PK I thought if I put in enough effort with training, she won't make mistakes. But she does.

Pee might (and I say likely, at least once) be on the couch, bed, under the cupboards etc. With bad aiming, peed out of the newspaper or peepad. Sprayed on furniture.... etc. If it happens once, it WILL happen again.

Shit might be eaten (by the dog, I'm not saying you might eat it). Smeared into the floor cracks. Diarrhoea-ed. Shreaked from dog's asshole all over the carpet. Stuck on dog's paw and trodded all over the house. Stuck on the dog's asshole and you have to pluck it out.

When you wake up, shit greets you. When you come home from work exhausted, you have to clean shit up. When you wake up in the middle of the night to pee, it's there and you just have to pick it up. It comes out from the dog, everyday without fail.

And the smell.... Oh and they do vomit too from time to time. Pumpkin only vomits on carpets.

b) Outdoor elimination

Smarter dog owners choose to have their dogs eliminate outside. The great thing about this is that the dogs rarely make mistakes at home.

But the bad thing is... Having to bring them out, EVERY SINGLE DAY, at least twice a day (some dogs survive on 1 but don't expect it especially from small dogs who have small bladders)... And mind you, it has to be around the same time daily.

If you miss bringing the dogs out for their daily walks, they will hold it in (or pee wherever they please lah). This will in the long term cause them to have kidney problems.

Planning a full day trip to Pulau Ubin? You can't, unless someone else is bringing the dogs out. I've seen friends with dogs who need to be walked daily... Die die they also must go home at the stipulated time. Couples quarrel when both parties are busy and one has to sacrifice to come home and do it.

Raining heavily? Too fucking bad. Broke your leg, can't walk? Best hire a dog sitter. Mad tired? Still gotta go.

And did I forget to mention? When you bring them on their walks, they might delibrately take their own sweet time to do their business coz it means a longer walk.

Also, bringing them for walks means almost guaranteeing they get fleas/ticks. Yes. GUARANTEED will kena if they walk on grass.

I cannot begin to describe how persistent, disgusting and vile these things are.

Do you still want to cuddle your dog when it has fleas/ticks? Frontline, the most widely recommended medicine for ticks/fleas, cost $75 for a 6 month supply.

c) Delibrate mistakes

A dog cannot explain nicely to us why it's upset. They just know that when they do certain things, they get certain reactions.

For unknown reasons, many dogs 'rebel' by peeing at spots they somehow seem to know will piss you off the WORST. It has to be the worst.

Is it because they crave attention, whether good or bad? Maybe. Or is it because he thinks he is the boss of you? Or that he is marking a territory? Or maybe he is angry with you for going to work and abandoning him? Doesn't like it you bought a second dog? You can watch as many episodes of Dog Whisperer as you want, but the fact remains, WHO THE FUCK KNOWS??

All you know is that the 'mistake' is delibrate, which brings me to the next point.

4) Disappointment and resentment

When you first get a puppy or adopt a dog, you are full of hope about what's going to happen.

You plan to either spend loads of time with it, training it (that's if you are informed and know that dogs NEED to be trained to enjoy the best relationship with them) or to send them to a professional dog trainer.

Maybe you'd be happy with the results. But I wasn't. And with so many working individuals, I can't be the only one. I trained Pumpkin for ages, only to be disappointed time and again by her peeing all over the place. I washed my pink carpet at least 5 times for her.

And to solve the problem, whatever problem, be it barking or peeing or gnawing, you try method after method, and after a while when they all fail, you get so disheartened.

Then it dawns on you that this means you have to live with this problem for the next ten++ years.

That feeling SUCKS.

You start to resent the dog for not living up to expectations.

So, this guide (ME!) advises you to have none. Expect a shitty dog who barks, bites, is unloving, unloyal, and destroys shit. If it's still ok with you, then you can go get a dog now!

5) Trust issues and guilt

So... It is now established that your dog has a 'problem'. Most dogs have problems. Some problems are more tolerable than others.

The most common semi-permanent solution to these problems is to lock the dog up in a pen. To confine it. Be it to prevent it from digging, peeing everywhere, destroying furniture, attacking newborn babies in the family or whatever, most people put dogs in "safe" areas.

Or maybe they muzzle the dog, etc frowned-upon methods of preventing the dog from creating further unhappiness.

And people start to feel guilty that the dog is not getting the stellar, tolerant treatment it first got when it came into the family.

Give it away or continue to lock it up? Guilt guilt guilt.

6) Death of a friend

Say you managed to overcome all 5 points. Your dog is perfectly trained. It loves you.

At the end of 15 years, maybe 20 years at most, your best friend dies.

Unless you are say, 70, it is almost certain that you would end up witnessing this.

The pain of losing a companion of 15 odd years is unfathomable. Not to be flippant towards people with more significant dog relationships, but even losing Pumpkin after a year is so painful..

Is this pain worth it? Or maybe, it's because it's worth it and that's why it's so painful? Whatever it is, it ends up a sad story.

But yet, people still go on quests to find the best furry companion they can. Personally, I wish I wasn't so naively idealistic when I bought Pumpkin. Well, I guess after reading this depressing list you won't be too. But at least you won't be caught between love, disappointment and guilt for many years to come.

p/s: I am NOT accepting comments for this post, NOR ANY OTHER DOG-RELATED COMMENTS ON PREVIOUS POSTS. I don't feel like reading either sympathy or criticism. Just wanted to blog my feelings out. The comments will be deleted before they are even read, so don't waste your time; you'd be the only one who ever read it.