This post will be two week’s worth. Not only because I’m actually in week 25 right now, but mainly because I have a lot to say about my other two children, the ones with paws. You see, they were our first babies, and they had it made. And then once I got pregnant, they really started to get shafted. And with a third one on the way, well, they’re really gonna have it rough. But let’s start at the beginning, shall we?…
Let’s start in 2009, when Nate and I started dating. I was 20 years old and he was 28. I was just starting court reporting school and still living at home. And he was approaching 10 years in the Navy, having already travelled all over the world, and contemplating whether he was gonna re-up for another 10 years, or get out and do something else. We were set up on a blind date by someone who was friends with both of our dads. And she hassled them each saying that, “Your son,” and, “Your daughter,” need to meet. Finally she just started calling Nate and I directly to tell us that she would leave us alone if we went on just one date.
I was resistant because I was really over dating at that point. 20-year-old guys can have that effect on you. Nate was resistant because he thought for sure I had a boyfriend already, and also he didn’t want some, “20-year-old party girl.” He was ready to settle down, get married, and have kids. Which he bluntly told me when we spoke on the phone later that night. And I was like, Dude, buy me dinner first. Well, we ended up talking on the phone that night for four hours, and going on our first date that following weekend. It was definitely love at first sight. This man was a can-do, get-‘er-done, let nothing stop him kind of guy, which completely overwhelmed me, but was also very exciting. And that’s exactly it, he was a man. The first real man I had ever dated. I was a little girl growing into a woman, and he held out his hand, and has lead me through life ever since.
After that first date, we spent every weekend trading off either him driving up to OC, or me driving down to SD to be together. And then one day I showed up with my brand new Pomeranian puppy named Yoshi. I was completely unsure of what his reaction would be. Things were getting serious between us, and I hadn’t involved him at all in this decision. Well, just as he was falling in love with me, he fell in love with her too. In fact, he actually told her he loved her before he told me. He and I were in a bit of a stand off as to who would say it first, and one night while cuddling with her on the couch, he let it slip out in a whisper. And I was like, “What did you just say?!” And he responded, “What? Nothing!” And immediately shoved Yoshi off of his lap, and shooed her away as if that would make me forget. I actually thought it was hilarious because I knew for sure that he loved me and my little dog, but big tough man that he is, he could only admit it to a five pound fluff ball.
So then a few months later, after we had been dating for about eight months, he finally told me he loved me. Then he told me about how he has wanted for a very long time to get a black lab, but hasn’t been able to because the military sends him away a lot. And what did I think about moving in to take care of the dog. Well, Nate’s never been known for his tact, but I have obviously always found that to be part of his charm. I had only been moved in for about a month when we went to the breeder to pick out our new addition. I was feeling pretty overwhelmed with this decision because our current apartment didn’t allow dogs, and we had already been sneaking Yoshi. Now we were definitely going to have to move, and quick. So while I’m starting to hyperventilate, Nate grabs my hand and tells me that he will always take care of me and our family, and everything’s going to be great.
We ended up moving just a little bit down the street, but still within walking distance to dog beach in Ocean Beach. I was taking these pup dogs to dog beach at least three times a week. We ended up naming our new Labrador Sasebo after Nate’s childhood family dog. You see, Nate’s dad is a Navy man, of course, and apparently had had a really great time while on liberty in the port of Sasebo, Japan. And then came home from that deployment, and bought little baby Nate a puppy which they named Sasebo. I just liked the name because it was Japanese and so it matched Yoshi. Our Sasebo grew to a whopping 90 pounds, but never grew out of that floppy labrador demeanor. I started calling him Bobos for short, and it really just fits.
Once I got pregnant, the visits to dog beach lessened. I was no longer as physically capable as I used to be, and couldn’t wrangle this beast of a dog when he decided to disobey. Or on the rare occasions that another dog wanted to attack my goofy Bobos, I was useless, and this made me feel vulnerable and incapable. Then once we had a baby, forget about it. Nate used to run with Bobos a lot, but with a new baby, and growing responsibilities at work, those runs lessened also. All in all, Bobos was taking these changes in stride… Until we bought the house. But we’ll get to that in a minute.
As far as Yoshi, well, her barking escalated from a slightly annoying greeting whenever someone came to visit or when Nate came home from work, to an incessant and relentless yapping all day long at anything and everything. She now had to compete for attention with not only me and Bobos, but adorable little baby Maverick. And clearly it was just too much to handle. I have tried many things over the years to combat this. The tin can with the coins in it that you shake at her when she barks, and it’s supposed to startle her out of it. Nope, she don’t care. The spray bottle with 90% water and 10% vinegar that you spray at her when she barks. Nope, she don’t care. I even tried 90% vinegar and 10% water. Still don’t care. I tried all my best Cesar Millan impersonations and clearly failed. I tried a product called the happy hoodie that the groomer puts on her to calm her. Nope, don’t care. Here’s a pic of it by the way, lmao.
I have tried anything and everything that anyone has ever recommended to me to no avail. Until finally I was able to train her to go to timeout. I point and sternly tell her “Timeout,” and she will prance her yappy ass to the bathroom. Sometimes I don’t even have to get up. This, to me, is a victory. So until I come up with some other idea, it’s as good as it’s gonna get.
Now, back to Bobos and his issues. In 2013, about four months after we had Maverick, we bought our little beach cottage in Ocean Beach. We closed escrow on the house in mid December, and then two weeks later right after Christmas, Nate deployed for six months. Bobos lost his mind and was overcome with anxiety. Like where the hell are we, and where did dad go??? He would cry and whine here and there during the day when I was home and he was outside. But apparently when I would leave the house with Maverick, and he was completely alone, he would howl non stop the entire time. I received quite a few angry and threatening notes from my new neighbors telling me so. No casseroles for me, lol.
So I took another tip from Cesar and gave Bobos a job. I put him on the front deck where he could see me come and go, and gave him the official title of guard dog. He would bark at anyone approaching my front gate, but the whining and crying while I was home ceased. I also set up the baby monitor whenever I left the house to see if he was still howling, and it was cut down to very few and far between. Success! Or so I thought.
The next time Nate left for a few months — actually any time Nate leaves for longer than two weeks, I receive an anonymous angry note from some neighbor about something. A couple of times it has been about Nate’s truck. We park it on the curb in front of our house, and there’s really no more room for another car. Now, when he’s not parked there, there’s just enough room for two small cars to park on that curb, although the butt of the second car comes very close to blocking me in my driveway. Well, a couple of angry neighbors don’t like how much room his truck takes up in a beach town where parking is limited. Did I mention that we park his truck on the curb in front of OUR house? But I digress.
So Nate leaves again, and I receive another note about Bobos. This one claimed that he howls all day AND night, which got me to thinking that these neighbors are just leaving notes on my door for any dog on the street. Because Bobos sleeps inside with me at night. And the night howler is, in fact, my neighbor behind me who works the night shift and leaves his dog outside all night. Sometimes the dog barks in the middle of the night, and I open my bedroom window and tell him to cut it out. I would never leave my neighbor an angry note about his dog that, go figure, barks at stuff. But that’s just me. So after that note, I made a big sign and taped it to my front fence. Here’s a pic.
So how else were we going to work on this. Well, I tried a happy hoodie for Bobos which was just ridiculous. I tried bark collars for both dogs and they kind of worked for a day or two, but not really. For one thing, I knew I needed to exercise him more. But remember, I’m a mom of a one-year-old, I’m working part time, I’m six months pregnant with Summerly, and my husband’s deployed. So I tried exercising Bobos by throwing the ball down our cul-de-sac street from my front yard where I could safely watch Maverick at the same time. But then he would see a random passerby, and bolt after them to say hi. Well, that angered a few people too because although he’s a lover labrador, he’s a dog without a leash, and they were going to call animal control on me. Yeesh.
So then I took another que from Cesar and decided to buy a treadmill. The smallest one that I could find to fit in our tiny little beach house, and could be folded up and stored under our guest bed. It was a walking, low-speed treadmill, and it was about $200 on Amazon. So every morning while I fed Maverick his breakfast, I would set up Bobos on the treadmill, and sit and encourage him to trot for about 30 minutes. Nate thought I was crazy, but truthfully I was pregnant and desperate. Here’s a pic of that idea.
So Nate came home, we had Summerly, and Bobos has calmed down a little with age. He’s almost eight now! Well, I’m pregnant again, Nate has been gone for about a month, and I have received another note. This time they are angry that he barks when people walk past my house. And I’m thinking, Yeah, he’s a guard dog, duh! Okay, fine. We’ll work on that. So I reprimand him when he barks at people walking by, and only allow him to bark at people who are actually walking up the stairs to the gate. I am a woman with a husband away, who likes to leave the front door open occasionally, and two small babies who want to play in the front yard a lot, and I appreciate when my dog alerts me to someone approaching my fence. So bring on the notes.
My dogs are my children with fur. And even though they cause me a huge amount of stress sometimes, I will always try to meet their needs because I am their mama, and I love them dearly. So even though they fall lower on the priority list each time we have a baby, we will never be giving up on them. So good luck to me with my three babies, plus two fur babies, which equals a lot of angry neighbors.