We all have those pinnacle adult moments in our lives.
Albeit our first bill, first car bought, or first big decision (not just what delivery food to order), we all have the moments beginning to define our self-sought destinies. These moments can also be horribly frightening: untimely deaths, realizing your child will live in a scarier world than you, or finding out you have some horrid disease that will forever change you.
The truth for all these pinnacle moments, good and bad, is you have the choice to become a better or worse person every single time. We get to choose how these moments define us.
Let me tell you about why my dog was prescribed Pup-Xanex (an anxiety reliever for dogs).
Husband and I got a dog a year before we were married. To keep the dog’s identity safe, we will call him Tinkle. He was the cutest, tiny puppy, basically a “tube sock filled with bones,” and he immediately became our pride and joy.
We spent so much time with him.
We spent too much time with him.
Way too much time with him.
By the time Husband graduated, we were engaged. Husband moved 250 miles away with Tinkle while I finished school out (read about that disaster here).
Husband started his first real-deal job and had to work long hours. For Tinkle’s own safety, he stayed in his kennel when Husband was gone. Although Husband worked in walking distance of home, he could only let Tinkle out for tinkle-and-attention time during lunch.
Now, if you’re someone who believes kenneling your dog is bad, I see where you are coming from but when we tried not crating him, he got into the carpet and shit rope for a week. We are not sailors, so we did not need the generously produced fecal rope. Back to the story…
So, Tinkle stayed in his kennel with his toys and I’m sure he began to accentuate his anxiety in those moments. After three months, Husband began slowly immersing Tinkle into a little freedom.
Being 250 miles away, I always enjoyed the developmental updates of our pup.
Husband let Tinkle into the bathroom (no carpet to chew) for a day. To further ensure no chewing, Husband flipped the shower curtain over the rod so it was 7ft off the ground.
It was great! Tinkle was a good boy and was rewarded with treats and love.
Day 2 came around.
I received a picture on my cell phone in the middle of my afternoon class.
What was in the picture?
Let me tell you:
Apparently, Tinkle had jumped seven feet, torn down and eaten half the shower curtain. As if that wasn’t enough, he spitefully took a shit in the bathtub and pissed on the pile of remaining shower curtain as if to say, “Fuck you, let me roam the apartment you bastard owners! This is MY party mansion!”
He was crated every day for four more months before we tried again. Being a smart dog, of course he was better behaved than the previous time. He earned his roaming rights very quickly and we were so pleased he no longer needed to be locked away for his own protection.
Fast forward a year later. I graduated hell and moved across the 250-mile distance to be with Husband while we finished planning the wedding.
As he was moving out of his apartment, we noticed a giant bald spot on the carpet.
Apparently, Tinkle had been gradually eating the carpet underneath the couch the whole time. Clearly, he only ate a little at a time to avoid “rope poop,” otherwise the crime would have been found out and Tinkle would have been caught by the rope coming out of his pooter. One could say he was a seasoned veteran of carpet chomping at this point. Husband definitely didn’t receive his security deposit back.
Fast forward another year.
After much training and progress, Tinkle now only chews his own toys and—for whatever reason—licks the shit out of any dog’s ear. He is quite OCD to be honest.
He is quiet and decent for the most part, only barking at ghosts and other dogs, and we thought he had grown out of his anxious habits.
But oh, no.
He has somehow suddenly developed a massive disdain for nail clipping. He almost hates it more than I hated tights. It makes no sense to us because we regularly take him to the vet/groomer and, until now, was fine.
But oh, my.
It was time for his regular clipping. He had been okay with the vet’s office before, but suddenly he hated everything about its strip mall storefront. Carrying him inside (he wouldn’t walk), I realized he was more anxious than usual. I was really nervous for him, hoping there were no equally anxious dogs in reception—God forbid he begin resonating with another dog’s anxiety. Luckily, the reception was empty. After sitting for a while, he calmed down and my confidence was restored.
Then the vet came out and looked directly at Tinkle.
He flipped and headed for the door, frantically pawing at it as if the room was flooding and he was trapped, doomed to drown. I picked him up and handed him to the vet.
We shared a look of uncertainty.
After thirty minutes of sitting in the lobby and listening to Tinkle’s screaming-bark-whines, the vet returned with a troubled look on her face.
My heart dropped.
Maybe there was something wrong with him. What if Tinkle had a sudden illness we didn’t pick up on?
The vet spoke;
“So, we were clipping his nails. He has very high emotional responses to stressful events. We had to take breaks because his glands kept releasing.”
She translated it to simpleton English;
“He pooped and peed on all of us because he was too stressed and fought so hard to not have his nails clipped or ears cleaned.”
She held up a vial of pills;
“This is a sedative for him. Give it to him an hour-and-a-half before any stressful event.”
I laughed, “Stressful event…” then the embarrassment sunk in, “Thank you and I am so sorry. I do not know why he is this anxious. I don’t know how he got like this.”
The truth is, he has always been anxious. We just didn’t realize it when he was a puppy, because puppies are always anxious when they’re new to a family. On top of natural anxiety, he was the runt of his litter, starving and covered in poop when we adopted him. Husband and I are both huge suckers for him, so we always bought into his anxiety puppy antics without knowing.