With Boyfriend in India, I’ve decided to change things up a bit around here from my standard “here’s some stuff I want to buy!” and do a sort of personal, day-in-review each day. I’ll include tid-bits about my day, things I would normally have told him over dinner together, and some photos (mostly of Fitz). I’ll post about the day prior every morning for the next 2 weeks.
Yesterday was thankfully a busy day at work, so I didn’t have a ton of time to mope or read any more about the scare that Pakistan allegedly gave to migrant workers and students in Bangalore (let me tell you how many knots that put in my stomach). I rewarded myself last night with yet another Sex and the City marathon and a nice stiff drink (gin, St. Germain, and ginger ale) which meant by 8pm I was half asleep on the couch. I was surprisingly domestic and actually cooked myself dinner rather than reheating leftovers; I made grilled eggplant with spaghetti and ricotta. Tonight I’m probably looking at mac n cheese and hotdogs or cereal, so don’t get too excited.
I walk by this building, The Royal, everyday on the way to the subway, and it kills me that it’s just sitting there abandoned. The front is covered in these beautiful murals highlighting the glory days of the theater but the owners keep refusing any development. The street itself is having a revival, with a ton of restaurants and bars opening up, and it’s sad that this takes up half the block, bookended with two vacant lots. It does photograph well, though.
I feel like I’ve been dishonest about Fitz, only showing you adorable pictures of him when he’s super docile and sleepy and relaxed. Comme ça:
Belly rubs, please!
In truth, the dog is a hyperactive lunatic who will chew anything he can get his teeth on when you’re not looking (trash, recycling, rugs, bugs, and many other things that remain unidentified because he doesn’t respond to “Drop it!” and will keep eating), and who becomes a screaming banshee when he’s outside and sees another dog. He’s sweet as sugar and a total cuddlebug with us, but he’s still very much a puppy, and a rescue puppy at that. He’s got some (okay, a lot) issues. He’ll gladly choke himself out pulling so hard against his collar when a dog passes, barking and screeching at him as if his life is threatened. We stopped being able to take him to the dog park because one time he was completely playful and amazing with a little puppy, and the next time he straight up attacked three dogs in rapid succession for no reason at all. We finally hired a dog trainer to come work with us and I feel like it made him progressively worse, because while he was great during our training sessions, he would lash out for days after (he shredded the bath mat, peed all over the rug for 3 nights straight when he’d never had an accident in the house before, and ended up going after another dog one night). Walking him became something we absolutely dreaded because he was totally unmanageable on the leash. It’s marginally better if we walk him individually, but if we try to walk him together? Forget it. His crazy puppy brain short circuits and he feels like he’s the “pack leader” as Cesar Milan would say, and there’s no calming him down. Literally our lives were like an episode of “The Dog Whisperer.” (Rooth, you’re right, how good is that show??)
Last week we stopped into the pet store and the guy who was working the night we adopted him last year was there. He usually works at a different location so we hadn’t seen him in a while. As is customary, he asked us all about Fitz, and after hearing our tales of woe he gave us the best recommendation of all time.
You may be wondering what that duct-taped can of baby corn nuggets has to do with it. It’s filled with a handful of coins and the sound it makes when you shake it is horrible. Fitz is simultaneously terrified of it and hates it and wants it to stop. Thus, it’s the only thing that gets his attention when we’re outside and he starts to whine and get over-anxious about a dog he senses coming 11 blocks away, and he’s learned that I’m not going to stop until he changes his behavior. I shake it once, he steps back, stops whining, sits down and waits for me to give him instructions on what to do next. You guys. It completely breaks his hyperactive/aggressive train of thought and refocuses his attention on me, where it never ever was before on a walk. His internal monologue on walks before was something like, “SQUIRREL! WIND! I HEAR JINGLING! WHAT IF IT’S A DOG? TRASH! CAR! I NEED TO PEE ON THIS NOW. I HEAR THAT JINGLING AGAIN WHAT IS THE JINGLING.” Now, thanks to a can of baby corn nuggets, it’s more like, “I’m walking. Whoa, Mom said stop. I’m sitting. I’m cute. And we’re walking again.”
We passed the family that lives a few houses up from us as they were walking their little white Maltese Roxy the other night, and instead of screaming and barking and straining against the leash at her as has been standard for the past year, Fitz sat next to me silent as a mouse while they walked by. The husband actually said, “Oh wow, he’s being so good!” “COINS IN A CAN!” I said proudly. It’s like snakes on a plane, but better.
And I don’t want to tell you what the dog trainer was costing us because it was an embarrassing amount (okay, it was $100 an hour, shut up, don’t judge me, we didn’t know what else to do), so it’s crazy to think that Fitz is phenomenally better thanks to like, 48 cents and an empty can. He’s far from perfect but we’re getting there. He’s only 18 months old, and he spent the first 6 months of his life in a shelter, who knows what kind of dog issues he has from that experience. But let me tell you, being able to walk him and have him actually walk calmly next to me? It’s magical.