A face only a mother could love (or a crazy dog lady)

There’s really no nice way to say this. My dog is a jerk. But he’s my jerk, and I love him unconditionally. He’s my little buddy, my sunbeam seeker and the best Kijiji find ever.

It was a cold and miserable night in the middle of February. I was living in an illegal basement suite that was infested with mice and black mould. We were moving out in less than a month and, while I was looking forward to being out of that particular living space, I hated packing and was tired and stressed over the whole thing. My boyfriend and I were moving to a small trailer with a huge yard that was owned by my parents; which meant that I could have a dog.

There I was, perusing the pets section on Kijiji, when I saw the most beautiful dog that I had ever seen. He was everything that I wanted. His name was Jake (same as my sister’s dog), he was the same colour as my childhood pitbull, and he was a Boston terrier like my friend’s dogs that I had been coveting. Obviously, it was meant to be.

I sent an email before I had even asked my boyfriend (this would be a pattern in our relationship and may have committed to its eventual demise). It turned out that Jake was being rehomed due to an unexpected pending baby so I was able to convince the woman who had him to hold on to him for a few extra weeks so that I was able to take him right to our new home. I was working several jobs at the time in order to pay for school and general living expenses but I put aside all my money from cleaning houses in order to pay the $300 that they were asking for him. My ‘dog fund’ lived inside an old coffee can and I eagerly watched it grow, knowing that I was soon to add a furry family member.

The day I brought Jake home was a tear-jerker. He’d been part of a family that included two little boys and they were quite adamant that if Jake was going to a new home, so were they. I had to convince them that I didn’t have beds for them to sleep in or snacks to feed them before they’d let me leave. I promised to take good care of Jake and make sure he got lots of cuddles. There were tears on both sides but I eventually drove away with my new little buddy secure in the front seat of my car.

Our first trip to the vet was quite eventful. It took the vet, a vet tech, a blanket and a muzzle in order to give him his rounds of shots. And this was after he bit me. Six years later, my thumb still doesn’t bend properly due to the lump of scar tissue in the joint. Much to my surprise, he didn’t have any of his shots, a microchip or any of the usual things that you would expect a three-year-old dog to have. Looking back through the notes, the vet even commented that I mentioned I might not be keeping him if he was aggressive.

After the traumatic vet visit, I emailed the woman I had bought him from and she made it quite clear that she did not want him back. She told me then that they’d only had him for a year and the person they got him from had only had him for a year. The more I watched him, the more I began to realize that the poor guy hadn’t had the best of lives prior to joining mine. He was afraid of belts and brooms and had horrible separation anxiety. Anytime that we left the house, he had to be kenneled or he would destroy everything he could find and pee all over everything.

None of this deterred me. A year later, I got him a friend and he seemed to settle down quite a bit. He no longer needed to be kenneled and he only peed on things that he associated with me leaving, such as my shoes, coats and bags. I invested in a lot of cleaning products and a steam cleaner. We tried training, diapers and all the enzymatic cleaners on the market. I renamed him Buddy when he seemed to react negatively to the name Jake. He still pees on things and likes to sleep on my table.

I wash my floors often and there’s always a spray bottle and rags available to clean up and messes that may occur. About two months ago I got rid of my fabric couches and acquired a set of old leather couches that could be wiped clean. When guests come over, I tell them to walk in and not ring the doorbell because my dogs go crazy at the sound. They hate the lawnmower almost as much as the leaf-blower and all the delivery guys know to stand back from my door lest they are assaulted by a flood of furry affection.

Why do I accept these negative behaviours? Why am I so in love with this furry tyrant? Despite his ornery nature, there is so much love bundled in his little body. Buddy won’t allow me to cry in front of him. He will place his paws on either shoulder to demand a hug and will lick my face until I stop crying. There have been many meltdowns that have been mediated by dog slobber. And we have made so much progress in the last six years. Our last vet visit, all he needed was for me to hold him and he took his shots like a champ. No more muzzles or bandaids required, just a hug. The vet and I figure that he’s probably eleven or so. There are at least four years of his life that cannot be accounted for.

These days Buddy is a bit of a grumpy old man. He doesn’t see very well, doesn’t hear very well and needs a boost into the car after a romp at the dog park. I’ve learnt not to let him stray too far or he can’t find his way back to me and I need to fetch him. Not that he minds being lost, he’ll just find someone to scratch his chest and will plop down on their feet. Most days he is content just to nap in a sunbeam or sit next to me while I’m working at the kitchen table.

Being a Boston Terrier, the tail of Buddy is quite short and stumpy. There’s a bald spot from where he sits on it and he’ll wag it in circles when you tell him you “loooooove” him. The tale of Buddy is rather long and complex and there are chapters that I will never get to read. But I know that it ends in my arms, with all the love I can give him. He may be an asshole, but he’s my favourite asshole and I wouldn’t trade him for the best-behaved dog in the world.

Crazy dog mom, mental health advocate, project manager and writer

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