Sometimes, it’s not wise to spout off what you actually think on the internet. But my whole job as a writer is to do just that. Spout off what I actually think. Yesterday I wrote an essay about my dog and it makes me look like an absolute monster. It’s also what I actually think. Houston, we have a problem.
This means that maybe I’m a monster.
I told Jeremy “I can’t post this! What will people think?” and he said “you can’t be the real you, huh?” which is exactly what I’m supposed to be! It’s just that the real me is usually not a monster. The real me is usually lovely. Then I go and say something like this and it’s scary because YOU MEAN I’M NOT MARY POPPINS BAKING BREAD ALL THE TIME? How can I let anyone know this?!
You probably already know because people are perceptive like that. You sense the edge. But dogs are a sensitive matter where I live. We are named “Dog Town USA” and I think this is why I’m the tiniest bit sensitive about it. I run the risk of people legit thinking I don’t care about my dogs. That when I post a picture of them sitting funny or something, that it’s all a show. But it’s not a show. Every morning I let them outside to pee and say “welcome to your day, guys! Welcome to your day! It’s the morning! Did you sleep good? Ohhhh, my baaaaabies!” While I scratch their ears and Jeremy looks on in horror.
The thing of it is is that Ham though, he is just the worst. He’s a taker.
You know why we ended up adopting him in the first place? We were at a Denver pet shelter called—I kid you not— The Dumb Friends League.
You guys, The DUMB FRIENDS? That’s cold.
So anyway, we were eat the Dumb Friends League and I was originally there for a cat but then there was this chihuahua mix sitting all alone, so small in his cage looking up at me. That is, until he started blinking real slow like. He blinked once, then again, then once more a little slower, and then he just shut his eyes completely. We determined he fell asleep because he tumbled to the left. So to recap, he was sitting up, sleeping, and then fell over. And I felt so bad for him because what kind of dog does that? How was he going to survive this shelter in that condition?
So we adopted him because I felt bad for him.
And I still feel bad for him.
For three years in a row I thought he was seven years old. I kept saying “that dog is like, seven” and every time we would do the math and figure out he was only five and I’d be like FIVE? He is only FIVE? I am going to have this dog for another nine or ten years?!
What kind of life is this?
I told you. He’s a taker. He only comes around when he wants to be pet or needs something. Otherwise he sits on his perch, otherwise known as the tops of my couch pillows which DESTROYS THEM COMPLETELY, and ignores us, that is unless he isn’t policing the kids and other dogs. He barks incessantly when any of them dare to run or yell, which is all the time, so all the time he is barking. I yell “Ham STOP IT” but he doesn’t.
Remember in Jaws how that guy says to the other on the boat “he’s got those dead black doll eyes”? That’s Ham. Sometimes he looks at you and you can tell nothing is there. He’s soul-less.
I know you’re not supposed to say these things about your pet. I know it and yet, I can’t help myself. Ham is not a loyal best friend. He is a paranoid freak. He hasn’t always been. When he was younger and spryer he barked less. Came around more. I used to take pictures with him, even. One time, I realized I didn’t take as many pictures with him as a typical pet owner and I worried that when he died I wouldn’t have enough to fill a memorial video in his honor. So I started taking more pictures with Ham. For about a year I took so many intentional pictures until I realized I’ll never make a video. What is this imaginary video I felt I needed to make? Was I going to post it on Facebook? Here are some pictures of me and my dead dog set to an Enya soundtrack. Enjoy!
It’s my husbands fault, really. I used to just feel bad for Ham. It was a growing pity. Not anything vehement. But then one day Jeremy said “ham is a loser” and I gasped. Don’t call him that! But then he started to sing. Started to make up a whole song about Ham and his loser ship. And a legendary moment in our family was born. It became a sort of anthem in our house. Together we’d sing it “ham you’re a loser. You’re not a winner” and we’d laugh and laugh.
Other hits followed: “raise you hand if you can’t stand Ham. Raise your hand if you can’t stand Ham! If you wish he would rot, like a dead old worm, raise you hand if you can’t staaaaaannnd Ham.”
Jeremy sang these things. Then WE sang these things and before you know it we were united in our thought. That dog was not a dog. He was a loser.
You know how they say there are no bad dogs, just bad dog owners?
I am kind of a bad dog owner. I will be the first to admit it. I’m ashamed but it’s also the truth. I mean I LOVE my dogs. I feed them and I sneak them treats and I walk them way more than I would prefer because they are psychos on leash—and I cuddle them and even give them raw eggs when I’m making them sometimes. But they are not trained. I mean, Ham cannot even sit. He won’t sit for a treat. It’s very concerning.
I tried. It’s not like I didn’t try. I hired a real live professional dog trainer to come in and teach me how to be the alpha of my dogs. Well—not of Ham. Ham is unteachable like I said. And old man stuck in his ways. He won’t sit for nobody! So it was really only for the Frenchies because we you know what we said to ourselves when life was just starting to calm down? We said “you know what would be a great life journey for us right now? Two French bull dog puppies!!! And while I’m not saying I *regret* it because I love them dearly, I do actually regret it.
Like, if I could take it back without ever knowing my love for them, I might. But I can’t and so I’ll just continue to love them fiercely, give them eggs and walk them more than I’d like. But the point is the trainer came and told me what to do. And I did all the things. I followed through! And sure enough they learned some basics. They sit because they are normal dogs and can learn. Plus they want to please me, unlike Hammy. Still, they are unruly and like Ham, they bark constantly.
My life is a constellation of barking and running and screaming kids. That it. I swear, except for all the good parts, that’s IT.
And at the center of it all is Ham.
But I realized the bright side the other day. I was considering my life whilst in the midst of a barking blizzard and noticing how Ham starts all the beef with the other dogs. He starts it and can’t stop it—He’s so drama. And then I remembered something. See, Ham is not seven anymore. You guys, he is ELEVEN next month…
So, things are looking up. Cue Enya.