After much deliberation, we decided on the name Henry Bean. He looks like a Henry; the name Bean is strictly for comic effect. Henry was rescued by his former owner from a pet store, one of those puppy mill distribution places that should be outlawed. Since Henry’s former owner already owned three hundred dogs, Henry needed a home. Now I am a father.
Henry arrived out of nowhere two Sundays ago, my girlfriend surreptitiously bringing him into our lives. It was like that movie with the Rock where he’s a football player and his daughter just shows up one day. Except this wasn’t some movie that I’m forced to watch on the plane ride back from Jamaica, this was real.
Henry is half Lhasa Apso and half Australian Cattle Dog. He’s a scruffy canine, with an old man’s beard that gets wet every time he drinks water. He’s still getting used to his long, fawn-like legs, and he walks at an angle. The other day I took him for a run on the leash. He looked back at me with his trusting puppy eyes every few seconds to make sure that I was following. Then the little bastard ran sideways into a fence.
Dogs aren’t only retarded, but they’re expensive. The first thing we had to do was buy Henry a crate for $100. He promptly thanked us by defecating in it. Hence, the potty training started. I’ve said the word “poop” more times in the last two weeks than I have since I was four. I have whole conversations with my girlfriend on the phone about my dog’s bathroom habits.
Of course Henry has diarrhea, and he steadfastly refuses to go in grass. Cleaning up after him involves scraping the feces off of the sidewalk with a plastic bag. Imagine my delight the other day when I discovered there weren’t any plastic bags in the leash dispenser. Since I couldn’t go anywhere without leaving a huge pile of poop in a parking lot, I was forced to dig through a nearby trash can and use a Doritos bag and a napkin soiled with something yellow and wet. And I still got shit on my hands.
The training has gone well ever since I’ve started rewarding him with treats every time he uses the bathroom outside. But all day long I stress out about my dog and his poop. Will he go in the crate? Can he hold it until I get home? Are we almost out of treats? I’ve becomes so preoccupied with house training that the other night I gave a snausage to a drunk guy urinating on the tree outside my house.
Henry won’t stop itching either. It’s so bad, he’s taking the fur off his ears. (Which makes a great idiom: “I can’t stand that guy. Man, he really takes the fur off my ears.”) After a vet visit on Sunday, it turns out Henry has ear mites, also known as “mange.” That’s right, without further treatment my dog will look like a chupacabra. Scabies treatment: $300.
But damn if I don’t love the little sonofabitch. If the Rock can learn to juggle his career as an all-star quarterback with the responsibility of being a parent, then surely I can learn to juggle my career as a receptionist with the responsibility of cleaning dog shit off the sidewalk. And that, my friends, is called parenthood.