I am NOT a Jerk, by Timmie the Dog

notajerk

 

 

 

 

 

I am NOT a jerk
by Timmie the dog

timmiebottombunkI’m not really a jerk, I just don’t like rules. So, here I am, in the doghouse. The dreaded cat got first pick and I am stuck with the bottom bunk, again.  It bites being the little brother.

I don’t remember my mama, but this is not one of those pull-out-the-tissues sob stories. This is my story. The story of a big dog trapped in a little dog’s fur.

I remember the good old days when I was a free range pup. Living off the land and eating all the garbage I wanted. I can dream it now. The sky is blue and I’m running along a highway. Whoa… freak out! Here comes a strange dog! Whoops, look out for that car! My tummy hurts. What’s the sticky stuff in my fur? Well, maybe life wasn’t perfect, but I was free. Nobody told me what to do.

timmieTimeoutOne fateful day, I was caught and sent to a foster home with other dogs. There was food, and I soon learned how easy it was to control pit bulls. My crazy-dog routine worked well with the passive brutes. By day two, I ran the house.

I thought I had it all figured out when, BAM, I was adopted. My world changed again. This time, there were rules. Not just dog rules, but human rules.

Rule #1
Do your business outside.
What? Why? Oh fine. If it’s such a big deal to you.

Rule #2
timmieandcatDon’t bother the cat.
So, that fuzzy, half-catatonic demon is called a cat? No problem. I kind of figured that rule out on my own. And I’m a big enough dog to admit that she  scares me just a little bit.

Rule #3
Don’t act like a maniac.
This rule has always been hard for me. Frankly, it’s exciting to run around in circles, jump on everything, chew up stuff and yap my head off. Gets my heart pumping and lets all the dogs in the neighbourhood know how awesome I am.

Rule #4
timmiegradGet a good education
Dog school was a breeze. I graduated at the top of my class. Okay, only one other dog showed up for grad, and he was still using puppy training pads. The rigors of academia weren’t really my thing. With so many humans around, I couldn’t make the other dogs do a dang thing I wanted, but every week there were less of them, and more treats for me. That was my plan all along. Need I say more?

Rule #5
TimmielippyNo biting the humans.
This was number one on the humans’ list, but not so high on mine. How was I going to communicate if I couldn’t sink my teeth into soft pink skin? How could I tell them to move over on the couch, for example? Would they understand that I wanted another treat if I didn’t chomp someone’s ankle?

It’s been a steep learning curve but I’ve been forced to learn a few tricks. Wiggling and kicking wildly will make a tiny human move away. Presto, I have the chair to myself.  Look mom, I didn’t use my teeth. When someone says BANG, falling to my side and remaining still will get me a cookie, every single time.

Now I am on the subject of cookies. I love cookies. Any kind. All kinds. Vegetables too. Veggies being chopped in the kitchen bring me running. And meat. Meat. Meat. Meat! I’ll be a very good boy if you’re a messy cook.

There are a few things I want my humans to know, if they want me to behave.timmiecone

I miss my “bits”, and I’m not sure I’ll ever get over the cone of shame. That’s on you.

Every time I’m naughty, it’s your fault. More cookies will help me forgive you.

timmiebandanaKeep on dressing me up. I’m handsome and when you think I’m cute, I get more cookies.

Once in a while I so badly want to feel the delicate skin of a human between my teeth. Little ones are delicious with their sticky, candy-flavored paws. I can hardly stand it! Let me chew on your arm when we play. No? Okay, didn’t hurt to ask.

Screen Shot 2015-03-19 at 12.39.31 PMI know, I know. There is only one dog in the world who likes me, but I want more playtime with her. You should know that Olivia’s mom gives me more cookies than you do. 

A bald dog is a cranky dog, so stop shaving off my fluff. Seriously, I look like a plucked chicken. Cookies would make me feel better.

And I would be less of a jerk if I had more cookies.

fluffometerThat is all.

Timmie the dog

Makenzi Fisk
makenzifisk.com

Author of the Intuition Series
– Just Intuition May 2014
– Burning Intuition Jan 2015
Fatal Intuition coming Fall 2015

Coffee Shop Gossip, Part II: The Greyhound Bus

True stories from the police coffee shop…

greyhoundtxtThe Greyhound Bus

“How’s Sergeant Rogers enjoying his retirement?” I tipped the plastic water cooler and shook out the last few drops. I’d never gotten used to the foul-tasting prairie water and could have kissed whoever had made this appear in the lunch room.

“Let me tell you a story he told me about his vacation.” Constable Donnie Banks suppressed a grin.

“I heard he bought himself a brand new travel trailer.” I waited for the story while Donnie took his time to settle down in his chair and leisurely sip his coffee. He’d be the perfect straight man in any comedy routine.

“Okay. He told me this story himself so I know it’s true.” Donnie plopped both elbows on the table and peered into my eyes.

“Yeah, yeah,” I replied impatiently. “Get on with it.”

“Well, you know how the Sarge is a little forgetful sometimes?”

“That’s an understatement.” I rolled my eyes.

“Well, he decided to take a vacation with his wife and got everything all loaded up in his truck. They were going down to Palm Springs, I think. Anyway, he had been driving on the highway for a couple of hours and all of a sudden noticed someone tailgating him. He got pissed off and slowed down to let the guy pass. The guy behind him slowed down too. Looks like a big freakin’ Greyhound bus, he thinks.” Donnie stopped to let that sink in.

“So, since the bus wouldn’t pass, he sped up to get away from him. The bus stayed right on his ass. He was really pissed now and jerked his truck over to the side of the road. He’s shaking his fist out the window and everything. And goddammit if the Greyhound bus doesn’t pull over right behind him! He’s absolutely livid now and gets out of his truck and stomps back to give the bus driver a piece of his mind!”

Donnie’s face turned a deep purple. He took another sip of coffee. “When he gets behind his truck,” he exploded with laughter, “he stands there and looks at his freakin’ travel trailer! He forgot he was haulin’ it! Isn’t that the funniest thing you ever heard? It’s all true! God, that guy has to have a good sense of humour to admit something like that!”

trailerMakenzi Fisk
makenzifisk.com
Author of the Intuition Series
– Just Intuition May 2014
– Burning Intuition Jan 2015
Fatal Intuition coming Fall 2015

Coffee Shop Gossip, Part I: Freddie the Freeloader

True stories from the police coffee shop…

freddietxtFREDDIE THE FREELOADER

Artie paid for my apple fritter. He always seemed to find an excuse to foot the bill when we went for coffee. Did I look that financially unbalanced? With only a couple of coins in my pocket, enough for a soda, maybe I did. The previous fall I’d bought a starter home and discovered what “house poor” really means.

At this hour the coffee shop was deserted, but we took the little table by the window, where we always sat. It had a view of the entrance, the parking lot and the washrooms.

Back to the wall, Artie dumped cream into his coffee and watched it swirl for a moment before taking a sip. It was late, we were both bleary-eyed and quitting time couldn’t come soon enough. I figured it was my turn to tell a story. He liked dogs too so I picked one that might perk him up.

“Did I tell you about the little dog I picked up last month?”

“What dog?” I knew he hadn’t heard this story because he’d taken that shift off to do something urgent on his ranch. Artie was a real cowboy in his personal life. I had no idea how he found the time to show up for police work when he had cattle to tend to, but somehow he did.

“Dispatch sent me to put down a dog that had been reported hit by a car.”

“Aw, you’re not going to wreck my night, are you?” Bristly mustache twisted in a grimace, he pushed back his chair as if it was time to leave. Animal Control officers didn’t work the nightshift so cops were called to take care of animals. Dangerous ones, strays and those in distress. The distressed ones were the worst. If an animal has been hit by a half-ton, it wouldn’t stand a chance even if we had an emergency veterinarian on call, which we didn’t. Not in a town this size. There was only one option left to relieve suffering. By now, you’ve figured out that by “take care of”, I mean “put down”. Nobody hated that job more than we did. One hand reaching for his car keys, Artie glared at me across the table. “This better not be a tear-jerker. I left my hankie in the tractor.”

“Don’t worry.” I waved him back into his seat. “The dog wasn’t hurt at all.”

coffeeshop1“Better not be lyin’ to me.” He inched forward and narrowed his eyes over his coffee mug.

I laughed. Artie was one of those guys who was crunchy on the outside but soft and squishy inside. The kind of guy who always had your back, didn’t badmouth you when you weren’t around, and paid for your donut more often than not.

He took a cautious sip and relaxed. I think he suspected that I was squishy on the inside too, but I’d never be confident enough to admit it. “So, tell me about the dang dog.”

“I found him huddled in a hedge not a block from where the caller thought he’d been hit. He was scared, but not hurt anywhere I could tell. He was the cutest little guy I ever saw.” I cupped my hands as if I was holding him right now, and Artie smiled. “His fur was all ratty and overgrown but he was cuddly and burrowed right into the front of my jacket.”

“Awww.” Artie’s mustache curved up at the corners.

“I called in for the door code to the Animal Control building and was on my way to take him in. I swear I was going to do it, but I pictured all those big out-of-control dogs barking their heads off when I got there. He was such a little guy.” I cupped my hands again and Artie’s mustache did its curvy trick one more time. “I could picture him in there, scared to death, and I didn’t have the heart to go through with it.”

“I thought maybe I could keep him. The way he looked, no one had been taking care of him for a long time. He needed a home and maybe I could do it.”

Artie’s head bobbed in agreement.

“Then reality set in and I realized I couldn’t take him. I was never home long enough to have a pet.” I didn’t mention the part where I had no idea how to take care of a dog, no matter how cute. “By that time, I’d had him with me in the car for over an hour. He crawled up and wedged himself between the back of my neck and the headrest and stayed there the whole time I drove around the light industrial area checking property. He was so content I fell in love with him.”

“At the end of shift, I still had the dog in my car and took him into the station. Sergeant Rogers got sucked in by his little puppy face. He fed him a half bowl of milk and most of his ham sandwich.”

This story was taking more time than I’d planned. The coffee girl had already refilled Artie’s mug and offered me another donut. Our break was probably over.

“What happened to the dog, you softie?” He settled back in his chair. “You couldn’t do it, could you?” He wasn’t leaving until he’d satisfied himself that I was as big a sucker as he.

“Rogers liked the dog. He volunteered to take him down to the pound first thing. He scooped him up under his arm and that’s the last I saw of him.” An itchy memory crawled across the back of my neck. “Except that afterward I nearly scratched my skin off. I hopped out of bed in the middle of my sleep to hit the shower! Get it? He gave me fleas. Funny isn’t it?”

“Hmmph.” Artie crossed his arms. “So they probably put him down anyway when no one claimed him. You said this story wasn’t a downer.”

“That’s the thing.” I got up from the table. It was time to get back to work. “Sarge said the dog escaped when he was trying to put him in the car. Took off like a rabbit as soon as he had a chance. He couldn’t catch him. That little guy is probably living the high life by now with some little old lady.” That’s what I wanted to tell myself, anyway. It still hurt a bit to think of how he’d burrowed into me for protection. I hadn’t really followed through, had I?

Artie drained the last of his coffee and stood. He took a few steps toward the door and then turned back to me, brows crinkled in thought. “Besides being small, what did you say this dog looked like?”

“I didn’t. He was a little black fella with one white ear and a tail that curls like a half pretzel. Cutest…”

Artie’s mouth opened. “Freddie the Freeloader.”

“What?”

“That’s what I called him,” he said. “Around the same time, a little black stray with one white ear and a pretzel tail showed up at my farm. He snuck in every day and ate all of my dog’s food. I don’t know how such a small dog could eat so much but he did.”

The dog I’d picked up had wolfed down a half bowl of milk as well as Sergeant Rogers’ sandwich. Now it was my turn to stand there with my mouth hanging open like a Neanderthal.

“My old lab Daisy’s half blind and could never catch him. She gave up after a while so I just filled her bowl with enough for the both of them. I took to calling the thief Freddie the Freeloader, and I mostly let him be because he didn’t bother anybody. He was smart enough to stay out of sight and eventually he wandered off. I always figured he moved over to Mrs. Hammond’s place. She said something about getting a hungry little dog right after that.” He clapped me on the shoulder and I followed him out the door.

freddie“Freddie the Freeloader,” I said aloud as I started my cruiser. He very well might be living the high life with a sweet little old lady.

Makenzi Fisk
makenzifisk.com

Author of the Intuition Series
– Just Intuition May 2014
– Burning Intuition Jan 2015
Fatal Intuition coming Fall 2015

My Dog is a Jerk

txtjerkA few years ago, my partner and I decided it was time. Our beloved border collie-cross had passed away the previous year and we missed her sorely, but the emotional pain had subsided enough for us to consider a new furry friend. After decades of unconditional love from not one, but two excessively hairy dogs, we decided that this time we would think with our heads, and not our hearts, when choosing the breed.

“Curly-haired dogs don’t shed,” she’d said.

So it began. We soon found ourselves at Pet Expo, a dizzying delight of pet toys and breed awareness booths. We looked at brochures and examined pet training aids.

After two amazing dogs, aside from the shedding, we were experts weren’t we? Our new dog would be perfect. An obedient little furball with good manners that everyone would love.

We’d also decided that a smaller dog might better fit our current life together. After struggling to carry a large ill dog into the car for a vet visit, I admit we were a bit traumatized. Small dogs are portable. We could take it everywhere and no one would complain. Not like trying to sneak our big dog unseen into a motel. Small dogs don’t scare people and don’t have such big muddy paws. A little fluffy dog was what we were looking for. We’d treat him like a real dog, not a toy, and he’d be a best friend.

Then we saw it, the pet adoption booth. The cute shepherd pup drew my eye first. The way he unapologetically dodged the staff and stole someone’s sandwich warmed my heart. He was a mischievous rascal. I spent a lot of time scratching his belly and tickling his muzzle. He’d be a good dog.

“But what about the shedding? And look at those huge feet. He’ll be really big. I thought we agreed…” she said.

timmieTimeout“You’re right.” I turned my eyes to the white curly-haired pup in the volunteer’s arms. What a mop of unruly fur. I did note that he had not shed a single hair on the front of her shirt. Hmm. That fulfilled requirement number one.

“How old is he?” I asked.  He was full grown, the lady said. She told us he’d been rescued on the highway and had been foraging for himself for a while. She’d scissored out most of the mattes in his fur but he still wore crazy, twisted dreadlocks. Poor guy, what chance did a little dog like him have out on his own. In the winter? It was a wonder he’d survived. Then her story changed. Maybe he’d come from a hoarder, she couldn’t be sure.

Either story was bad but all I really heard was that he fulfilled requirement number one, no shedding, and number two, he was small. He needed us. The part of my heart reserved for animals expanded a bit more. There was definitely room. He sounded perfect, but I thought up a couple more questions just so I wouldn’t look desperate.

“Is he house-trained, and how does he get along with other dogs?”

The only part of her answer that turned out to be true was that “he tries” to do his business outside. I should have known that volunteers are not experts. Sometimes they are mistaken and sometimes they just make up whatever story they feel will get a dog adopted. I’m not sure which it was this day. I’d like to think she didn’t turn our world upside down on purpose.

It seems they were desperate for us to take him too. They waived their home visit and interview requirements and we forked over the cash. I’d never paid more than about $20 to adopt a dog from the local pound but here we were counting out a couple hundred bucks to a rescue agency. I had just sold a set of unused winter tires online and had the exact amount in my pocket. It was providence, and this dog would be so worth it.

Within an hour, we adopted that dog and walked him back to our car with his new matching collar and leash, for which we’d dug up more cash. We took him home and introduced him to the kids. They ran terrified when he tried to eat them.

Timmielippy“Keep him away”, they cried. “He’s scary and his smell is burning our eyes.”

I snatched him up under my arm. He was cute and his ten pound size was easy to handle, so he had that going for him at least. He twisted and snapped alligator jaws, trying to take chunks out of the door frame, the wall, me, but I managed to stay on the fluffy end of the raging demon until I could put him in the yard.

Our neighbors’ house was under construction and he devoured every fragment of insulation or roofing shingle he could grab from the lawn. I stared at his bizarre antics in disbelief. What had this little dog been through to make him act like this? Had he suffered some brain disease? Was he insane?

I took a deep breath, and went out to see if I could calm him. His eyes were wild as he tore circles around me and my ankles were in peril with each sharp-toothed pass. I held the broom close to my legs so I could block his teeth from reaching my skin. What had we done? I’d never had a crazy dog before.

TimmieBathMaybe he just really needed us. We could do this. We’d treat him well, teach him to behave and the kids would love him. I caught him in a mellow moment and bathed the eye-burning stink off him in the kitchen sink. We named him Timmie. After his first haircut he didn’t really look like Swiffer anymore. The groomer was even able to get out the last of the tar matted around his muzzle.

Surely his new home and his new look would improve his attitude. He ate like he was starving and doubled in size within two months. That meant no more baths in the kitchen sink, but if you squinted just right, you could still imagine he was a small dog.

IMG_20130616_203158editedWe bought him a new bed, which he ate, and then we bought him another, that he soon tore to pieces. He had separation anxiety and destroyed things when left alone so we had to kennel him in the house for even short absences. I built him a doghouse so he’d feel safer outside.

We used all of our training strategies, and watched the dog shows on TV. We developed a plan to let the kids climb into the safety of their backyard fort before we let the child-eating monster out. That saved their little ankles, and kept the screaming to a minimum.

Timmie continued to eat whatever debris landed in our yard or on our floor inside. He was infamous for creating multicolored, partially-digested dog bombs in the backyard with chewed-up Legos, crayons or Barbie doll accessories.

Eventually the kids could snuggle with him but he would turn from relaxed cuddle bug into bite monster in a split-second. Inevitably there would be a yelp from someone and the dog would scurry off after being ejected from their lap for biting. Timmie would go in Time-Out and precious human skin would be examined for damage. He was smart, or lucky enough, never to draw blood.

Frustrated, and afraid for the kids, we called the rescue agency who sent over their trainer. Timmie was like a whole other dog when someone new came. He turned up the charm and obeyed every cookie-influenced command.

Finally the trainer looked me in the eye and said, “You’ve never had a small dog before, have you?”

In the face of her barely restrained laughter, I had to admit that I had only ever had larger dogs.

“You can’t train them the same,” she told me. “He’s small but he thinks he’s in charge. You need to show him that you are. Make him work for every single thing he wants. Even if it seems minor, it’s big to him. If he wants to come back in from the yard, make him sit. If he won’t do it, he doesn’t come in. If he wants a treat, he has to do something for it. A toy, he has to ask politely. Do that for every single thing he wants, and you’ll be able to manage him.”

“What do we do if we have no bribe?”

“He just needs a lot of work. He’ll come around,” she said, and we trusted her.

notmyrealmomOur wild dog needed to learn to respect people and he needed to bond with us, little people included. We don’t take membership in this family lightly. We made a commitment to Timmie and we were going to do everything we could to socialize and teach him. We would have to try harder.

We began to rehabilitate Swiffer into Timmie. He balked at every request, and we always had a standoff at the back door when he refused to sit. If you were under five-foot-two, he lunged for whatever he wanted, and he regularly bullied the kids. He liked ladies with big purses and lots of jangly bracelets but he absolutely freaked out if he saw another dog, even from a distance. He has only ever had one doggie friend in the world who put up with him, but she regularly tunes him in for being annoying.

timmiepeekingMore than three years later, Timmie still bullies people for treats, he snaps at dogs without warning, and every once in a while, he destroys something. He has taken it upon himself to bark wildly at every dog within a two block radius.

I’ve taken him to dog training classes twice. The first time was too soon. I bailed on the second half of classes because he was disruptive and aggressive to the other dogs. The second time, only one other dog showed up on graduation day. Did the rest flunk out because my dog’s bad behaviour made their dog’s good behaviour impossible? Maybe.

I have a blurred photo somewhere of him wearing a sideways doggie graduation cap. It was just a loaner for the five seconds it took for the photo, but I’m pretty sure he broke it, and I’m convinced that the trainer handed over the certificate just to get him the heck out of her class.

After all this time, and mostly consistent effort from everyone in the house, I’ve come to a few conclusions about Timmie. He has an anxiety disorder. The vet thinks he’s also bipolar but she’s really encouraged about the progress we’ve made toward domestication. He’s so intense and aggressive when meeting other dogs that they veer away. If they are brave, or stupid enough, to greet him, he’ll sniff them but snarl like a ferocious beast if they try to reciprocate. He doesn’t bite people any more and that’s his saving grace. Biting was non-negotiable.

Who knows if all his behavior was due to his experiences or puppy mill hoarder breeding gone wrong? Who knows if he has some sort of mental deficit? Underneath it all, he has this thing in his head that tells him that he rules, and he doesn’t answer to anybody. Sometimes he might let you think that you got him to do something, but really, he doesn’t do a darn thing he doesn’t want to.

You’d better have your own self-confidence intact if you want to live with this dog and don’t ever expect comfort because you had a bad day. He’ll cuddle when he darn well feels like it. We still have occasional standoffs at the door but we’ve come to an understanding that he at least has to fake it. We both know he’s just pretending when he averts his glare and touches his butt to the ground. His rigid posture tells me he’s only submitting for the few seconds it requires to get in the door, but I’ve decided that’s as good as it’s going to get, and I’ll take it. Fake it ’til you make it, they say.MakenziBioPic

Daily, we work on anti-anxiety strategies, make sure his diet is good and that he gets exercise and attention. Yes, he has a sob story, but doesn’t everybody? Somewhere in our history, every one and their dog has gone through something. We made a conscious decision not to let what happened to us define us. The difference between us and Timmie is that, underneath his anxiety, or his bipolarity, or his neglected background, he’s just a jerk. He’s cute and cuddly when he wants to be, but he’s still a jerk.

Makenzi Fisk
makenzifisk.com
Author of the Intuition Series
– Just Intuition May 2014
– Burning Intuition Jan 2015
Fatal Intuition coming Fall 2015