I Love My Dogs, But…

These guys.

These two were our first babies.  Shelby, the chocolate lab, joined us in 2003.  Zac and I had been dating for about three months when he decided that he wanted to get a puppy.  The next week our girl came to live with us.  Not a week later, Zac’s roommate left the garage door open while we were at our university for a December graduation party.  Shelby got out and was gone.  We put up flyers and drove around every evening for the next week, but she was nowhere to be found. Six weeks after that, he got a phone call from someone who had found a chocolate lab puppy and saw a flyer at a local veterinary clinic.  We went to check it out, and it was her!  She was a little bigger, but it was our Shelby girl.  She was about five miles from where Zac lived at the time and had navigated a major through-road and crossed an interstate.  But she was safe.  A little skinny when they found her, but otherwise okay.  She’s been making us smile {and making us crazy} ever since.

We adopted the old Oscar dog from the Shelby County Humane Society in January or February of 2006.  He was a year and a half old when we adopted him, the same age and size as Shelby.  I will never forget the day we adopted him.  I wanted a small dog, one that could curl up on the couch with me and ride in the car easily and not take massive dumps.  There were plenty of smaller dogs there, but for some reason we kept passing by this big sad-faced dog.  No, I told Zac.  I didn’t want another big dog.  One big dog digging holes in the yard and tearing around the house at full speed and eating us out of house and home was enough.  Cocker spaniel or bust, I said.  But that face.  That sad floppy face.  I couldn’t forget about it.  So after some convincing, we ended up bringing home a big mastiff/shepherd mix.  Turns out that Oscar was a small dog trapped in a big dog’s body.  He curled up in the car seat {and in my lap} and rode around town with us, to my parents’ house, to the park, and then finally to our home to be introduced to his new sister.

Who HATED him.

It took a good two weeks before we could even let Shelby catch sight of Oscar.  She would go absolutely nuts every time she saw him.  I was so worried that we had made the biggest mistake of our lives bringing another dog home.  But eventually, after gradually introducing him to her in the backyard, she learned to tolerate him.  And now, over six years later, they are inseparable.  They sleep next to each other every night.  They keep each other company in the yard during the day.  They wrestle and play and bicker and chase squirrels and birds.  They love having a big backyard and being able to spend most of the day outside.

Unfortunately, with outside dogs come several problems.  They stink.  No matter how many times we bathe them and no matter how thoroughly, they always smell like… dog.  Sweaty dirty dog.  In the photo above, they are freshly bathed and yet still smell.  I know that is not exclusive to big dogs, but it just seems that the more surface area there is the more smelly a dog is.  No amount of shampoo or smell-good spray can get rid of the dog smell.

They are also dirty.  They track in dirt and mud every day.  God help my floors if it has rained any time in the last week, because they will find the muddiest part of the yard and wallow all in it just so they can track in as much filth as possible.  I Swiffer and vacuum constantly but I still feel like my floors are covered in muddy dog prints.  Don’t even get me started on the carpet in the master bedroom.  The dogs sleep in there with us on their own big fluffy beds, but every night they come in and roll all over the carpet before settling onto their beds.  So around the big round beds, there is lovely rolled-in red Georgia clay on my berber carpet.  I vacuum it but haven’t found anything that will get it completely out.

And the hair.  Good heavens, the hair.  They are both fairly thick-coated, and the shed starts around May.  Oscar is a bit worse because he sheds his fine undercoat.  It comes off in patches.  I have to clean the brush after every stroke.  Shelby isn’t quite so bad, but she still sheds a fair amount.  We vacuum every day and still can’t keep up with the dog hair tumbleweeds in the house.

But I love them.  They are really cute and the sweetest dogs.  They have always been very gentle and loving with our boys, so I guess I shouldn’t complain too much about the mess they make.  We live in a dog house.  It’s going to smell like dogs and have dog hair everywhere.  That’s just a fact of life when you live with dogs.  And they will be nine years old this year, so I know our time with them is somewhat limited.  I should focus on enjoying my sweet fur-babies as much as I can and not on the mess.

But I’m calling it right now.  My next dog will be small and non-shedding.  Like a Westie or a dachshund.  Or a goldfish.

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