Beta blues

It's on: the alpha struggle. Hero has been diagnosed with 'dominance aggression', and hence it's our job to knock him down several pegs to the beta position or die trying. This following a particularly stressful visit to Mookie's where Hero drew blood (mine and Mookie's) on several occasions. Yesterday we had a lengthy vet visit and were told to "crack down" on the little monster. Tough love isn't easy for us (we're softies), but it's for Hero's own good - he's facing the unpleasant end of a euthanizing needle if we can't gain some semblance of control and lessen the liability. Tears have been shed, scars swell angrily on wrists and hands and fingers, and hope has seesawed time and time again. Now we get down to business.

Hubs and I are gentle people, so dominating a dog isn't really in our nature. But in order to save Hero's life we're channeling our inner alphas. Hero's been fitted with a Gentle Lead nose collar

Get it off! Get it off! It's an instrument of The Man! Get it off my head!!!!

that subdues him considerably; he's not allowed on any furniture (this was particularly heartbreaking when he jumped in bed with me this morning to snuggle and I had to refuse him); he gets hand fed only after earning each morsel; when he steals things, he gets forcibly restrained until he drops them. He's visibly depressed. Turns out he doesn't like being bottom dog on the totem pole. Oh well. We don't like his teeth (which I painstakingly brush daily - the irony!) sinking in to our flesh all that much either, so someone's got to be left disappointed at the end of any given day.

Recently I've decided that for one month, I'm going to look at everything that happens to me as part of the universe and/or God's plan. I read about a study that showed that spiritual people are generally happier, and I think this is part of the reason why. It's a "let go and let God" sort of thing - if it's always assumed there's a reason why, it's harder to get too upset when you encounter bumps in the road. So when snow kept me in Missouri a day longer than I'd anticipated, I tried to see what good came from that: maybe it was predetermined so that I could return to Mookie's gym and find my favorite comb that I'd lost in the locker room the day before; maybe it was all arranged to allow Mookie and I one final dinner out together, just the two of us. I was amazed by the sense of calm I felt imagining it was all playing out just as it was intended to.

The tricky thing is trying to fit Hero into my month's experiment. What good comes from the unfortunate twist of fate that brought a hyper-aggressive ball of fur into our lives when we'd been anticipating a baby, not a demon dog? What good comes from all the stress, the ups and downs, the emotional roller coaster of having a dog you can't trust with the simple task of not harming you!? I can see how this situation benefits Hero: I firmly believe less tolerant, less stubborn, or less devoted people would have put him down or worse, passed him on to some unsuspecting family by now. I see how we're important to his life. But I have to believe he's important to ours. He must be teaching us something. He must be here for a reason, or else it's just sh*t luck that we got such a nasty pet when we need a faithful companion more than ever right now.

Whatever the reason, I'm not one to give up easily. I'll fight for Hero with all I've got. We've already thrown endless amounts of money, time, and energy at this problem. What's a little more? Well, time and energy. Hero's burned through his 'bad dog fund' so there's nothing left of that (of course as I say this we're waiting on delivery of an exorbitantly expensive correction collar, so clearly dollars continue to get spent on his behalf).

 

14 comments:

calicobebop said...

Wow - I am in awe of your strength and determination. I wish I had half of your fortitude! I know it must be hard - but I'm sure Hero is worth the fight.

1:20 PM
seussgirl said...

Maybe it's to teach you that you are capable of doing something that seems against your nature and/or hard?

I'm glad you're looking at things from a bright perspective; I hope the Hero situation starts to look up!

2:07 PM
Cat said...

You need Caesar Milan to the rescue! Good for you with your positive thinking! I hope it helps :)

2:09 PM
Kat said...

I was gonna say the same thing as Cat. The Dog Whisperer is a genius. Seriously, watch it.

2:23 PM
HeatherPride said...

Good luck with everything. And the next time you're snowed in here in Missouri, you should give me a call!!

4:03 PM
Algunita said...

Elle,
I'm a new reader (I found your blog through another blog and have been reading past entries) so I hope its okay to be posting my response.

I love your outlook on life. I wonder if the "good" that comes from the stress Hero causes you (other than the obvious joy he brings to you) is by way of preparing you for what has yet to come? One of my favorite quotes is "Nothing in life worth having comes easy." Certainly infertility is a testament to that! I wish you all the best as you continue on your journey with Hero!

6:50 PM
Steph at Problem Solvin' Mom said...

What a great experiment! Hope your Hero training goes well, hang in there.

8:02 PM
shopgirl said...

OHHHH I LOVE LOVE LUUUUURRRRVVVEEE the Gentle Leader! Really, it's not as bad as it seems - and NO, the dogs do not like it - but that's only because they like to be in control!! I bought it for my DEAREST DAISY DOG - who literally pulled me up one street and down another (and also had the two of us in "time out" at doggie agility class on more that ONE occasion) and it has COMPLETELY transformed my dog!! She is the best walker ever!! I wish I would have had it 2 years ago!! I actually don't use it any more (or rarely) because she has "learned" how to walk properly (and I'd say it was less than 6 months to get there) When she acts up - she gets the "leader" again. Problem goes away immediately!! Be strong - be the alpha!! Good luck!!

8:20 PM
Fertilized said...

You are right - there is a reason. You may now soon, later or never but thre is a reason. Keep up hte great work for Hero and your family

8:26 PM
Melissa said...

Everyone already said all the good and wise stuff I was gonna say, so "ditto that!" :o)
No, really. I hope I never say I know everything about motherhood, but what I do know is that I learned one heck of a lot from dealing with difficult teenagers and difficult pets in my past. Your love and attention and, yes, discipline, for Hero definitely benefits him, but it also benefits you. Dogs, like children, like to know where their boundaries are, and even though there's always an alpha dog, there are a lot more followers in the pack than leaders...and even the leaders were followers once. Lead him. :o) And for you? Yes, this will help tremendously once you become a mom to humans. But also, for now, you are learning that you are able to rise meet a fierce challenge and overcome it.
You Go Girl!

10:47 AM
Bob said...

Sorry to hear about the ongoing problems with Hero. But before euthanizing him, if that's what it comes to, at least check out giving him to someone else, maybe someone with an "ALPHA" dog that will put Hero in his place.

11:15 PM
Bina said...

I admire you guys for sticking to it and trying to knock the dog down a peg (or several!). Surely have watched Ceasar Milan, the Dog Whisperer, right? He has a book on dog psychology and I am in awe of that man. I swear I would marry him if we were both available.

And maybe Hero is part of the plan to teach you that it's hard work to get what you want and sometimes things are a struggle, but in the end, it's all worth it.

7:48 AM
Slyde said...

awwww, poor thing. i hope it all works out..

12:28 PM
Crys :D said...

wow. are you taking a yoga course too? poor hero, but poor you too! good luck with your experiment!!! :)

11:32 AM