by Aaron Traister, REDBOOK
DEAR WHYS GUY:
I have a dilemma. My husband and I have a Novia Scotia Duck Toller. He's 3 years old, and his name is Bosco.
My husband absolutely refuses to leave the dog home when we go out. On the rare occasion when we go shopping and leave the dog at home, it's like "beat the clock." My husband says that Bosco is a pack animal and he needs to be with the pack. The last time I checked, I don't pee outside, so I don't know what pack he's talking about. Bosco sleeps in our bedroom, and if I should get up to go to the bathroom (indoors) I'll come back to find Bosco with his head on my pillow sleeping next to my husband. "Do you want room service? Maybe a Mimosa?!"
Am I crazy?
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I used to have a weird animal thing. Every time my wife Karel went out of town in the spring she would come back to find a crate full of stray kittens in our small bedroom. It's not hard to find packs of stray kittens in my neighborhood in spring. I pulled 21 kittens off the street in 3 years, and that's in addition to the two adult cats, the 70 lb. dog, the two kids under the age of 5, and the fish we already had in our home (we had German-party-boy-miniature frogs named Hans and Fritz, but the cats made fast work of them). Did I mention our house isn't that big?
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These were completely helpless inbred kittens, too. For instance; There was the batch that had ringworm (I had to give them sulfur baths every day for a month and a half). Then there were the several batches that had been abandoned by their mothers before they could eat solid food, so I had to dropper feed them and "agitate their bottoms" to get them to go to the bathroom (and yes, I feel weird just writing that). When we got some of the later batches fixed, the vets informed us that their sex organs were in the "wrong place." Needless to say, these were not the healthiest little beasts. As you can imagine, the stress of trying to get them adopted was ridiculous.
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I knew taking in these kittens was all pear shaped, but I just couldn't help myself. To say that Karel was displeased would be an understatement. But they were helpless kittens-what could she do? She finally put her foot down and forced me to examine why I was compulsively rehabilitating kittens every spring and summer. Turns out I have some hoarder tendencies. We resolved the situation by adopting one of the kittens on the condition that I wouldn't pick up another litter (the one I chose can only walk towards the left).
So now we have 3 cats (one deaf, one constantly trying to go to Pittsburgh, and one who walks only to the left), a 70 lb. dog, two kids under the age of 5, a fish, and two ghost German-party-boy-miniature frogs, who haunt our third floor, in a very small house. Problem solved.
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Here's my point: After a little personal inventory (or however the self help folks describe it), I realized I wasn't creating this familial headache because I really wanted a small hot house full of stank kittens. Instead, I was pulling these kittens off the street because I was bored. Being a stay at home parent can be sort of mind numbing at times, especially at the end of winter, and especially when Karel was out of town and I had almost no adult contact for several days on end. I needed to give myself an adorable, worm-infested distraction. I needed these pestilential little menaces to break me out of my routine and give me something more than just the shape of my kids' day to think about.
So my guess about your situation with Bosco the pack dog is that it's not actually about the dog. There's something else getting between you and your husband that is taking the form of the dog. Be like Karel: Put your foot down, leave the dog at home, and figure out what the real issue is. You'll be happier, your husband will be happier, your dog will probably enjoy a well deserved rest, and the whole pack will be at peace.
And if you decide you want a kitten, gimme a call, I still have connects.
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Need help decoding odd male behavior? Redbook columnist Aaron Traister, who lives in Philadelphia with his wife and two kids, is our resident male who is happy to answer any questions you might have about the mind of a man. Either leave your questions in the comments or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org Whys Guy in the subject. Letters, emails, and comments may be edited for clarity and length.
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