Apollo, My Dog, Eats Children For Dinner

My best friend and I went to the park yesterday, and I decided to bring Apollo. It’s been about a year since Apollo has been to an actual park. Between our many moves and relocations, and the chaos of our lives, we just haven’t really had the chance to take him to a park, for a real walk. Yesterday was the perfect opportunity, I thought, to take him out and reintroduce him to the leash and just get him out of the house!

As I’m standing over the trunk of the car gathering all of his belongings into my backpack, Apollo jumps out of the car and runs full speed after a little boy on a scooter! I’m not sure I have ever seen fear, like I saw in that little boy. He threw his scooter to the ground and booked it right back to his own car, and Apollo followed suit, leash dragging behind him! I was so embarrassed. I knew that Apollo was just being curious and would never have bitten the little boy, but I am pretty sure that little kid might fear dogs for the rest of his life!

Apollo is a 2-year old, not even ten pound Miniature Schnauzer, and his breed is naturally protective and very barky. I can never tell if his behavior is heightened around strangers because he’s just that protective of me, or if he’s anti-social. I committed a true cardinal sin when we first brought Apollo home. I failed to socialize him as a puppy. As many first-time puppy owners, I was so afraid of him being around people, dogs, and parks without all of his shots, thinking he’d contract some sort of parasite or sickness, but now he’s a maniac when he sees strangers and other animals. I don’t know how to break that behavior.

About a quarter mile into our walk, a lady walks past us, and the behavior sparks up again. Luckily I have his leash in hand, but his barking and charging after her worries me. I apologize to the lady and explain that he doesn’t bite, but her facial expressions are telling me all I need to know.

We end up walking about a half mile, just the three of us, and I notice a complete change in Apollo. When it’s just the three of us, he’s completely calm, and remains by my side. I drop the leash and he doesn’t run off, he doesn’t walk far ahead of us and when he does, he stops on his own to wait for us to catch up. He’s not even concerned with the woodsy animals casually running up and down trees or across the track. When there are no strangers present, Apollo behaves so wonderfully, abiding by each command he’s given, but that goes right out the window as soon as a stranger is added into the equation.

We sit at a bench we find at the 0.75 mile marker, and I reach in backpack for his bowl and water bottle to cool him off. I’m noticing he’s really hot and getting pretty tired. In the blink of an eye, he’s booking it after another woman. It’s so bad that he trips over himself in pursuit of her. The last thing I need is for someone to actually really fear him, and end up causing him harm. At this point I’m fed up. I yell at him a little louder than the previous two outbursts, and I spank him.
During the last quarter mile of our walk to the car, we pass a playground with two children playing on the swings. Apollo growls a little bit but keeps on walking. Right beside the playground was a little pavilion with a small group seated underneath. There were a few toddlers pointing in amazement at Apollo, and I’m just so thankful that none of them ran over to him. Apollo doesn’t like toddlers as they provide too many sudden movements. He doesn’t trust that. He walks past them without a bark; perhaps he’s learned his lesson for the day.

It’s so frustrating knowing that Apollo isn’t the type of dog that I can have around strangers in a park, or even in the home. I don’t really know how to curb this behavior either. It concerns me that he’s so untrusting of children, because I want to have my own soon, and I don’t want to create an aggressive dog, nor be afraid of his potential reactions.

If anyone reading has any tips, explanations, concerns, tools, resources, or similar experiences, I’d love to hear from you. I’m totally willing and ready to give just about anything a try. I want to have a happy, confident dog. I love that he’s so protective, but this is getting out of hand.

But he's just so darn cute...

But he’s just so darn cute…

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Like Mother, Like Son

Whenever I’d see those people walking around with their pets in dresses and bows, and really lame bowties and booties, I’d roll my eyes and swear those people were nothing short of bat shit crazy! I mean, a pet…is a pet. There is really no need for nail polish and sparkles, tutus and engraved collars, or super lame nicknames like Mr. Snuggle-Wuggles and Diva-Darling. How completely obnoxious!! The worst has got to be how these crazy people talk to their pets with those relentless baby voices, how painfully annoying….

…Yes, I definitely thought those people were a little douche-y, until we bought Apollo….

Today was Apollo’s doctor’s visit. I knew he had an ear infection. We’d been down this road before thrice over. I’ve been extra careful not to get water into his ears during bath-time, seeing as how my previous dumping water over his head technique caused ear infection #2. I’ve been blow-drying his ears out after baths, and occasionally I swab his ears, although I’m terrified I’ll have a sudden slip of the wrist and BOOM, we’re deaf! I’ve known he’s had an ear infection for quite some time; I’ve noticed each tell-tale sign: shaking his head, scratching (and moaning), he’s even started sliding his head across the floor! I suppose I’ve been so caught up in getting my life in order, that I’ve become quite irresponsible in regards to Apollo.

The nurse isn’t convinced by my confident diagnosis in his ear infection because, “his ears look nice and healthy so far.” Again I reassure her, it’s an ear infection. “Well, let’s get a swab and see.” I don’t know why she won’t believe me. She grabs a long ear swab and digs up some brown muk, smells it, and shouts, “Dear God that stinks!! Yep, that’s an ear infection.” I really didn’t need the theatrics or the faces.

So, we’re standing there him and I. Him on the cold, silver table, and me, heart sinking into my shoes as the vet informs me that Apollo’s got a severe yeast infection in BOTH ears. I’m certain I’m going to be whisked away for child endangerment. I mean, puppy endangerment. Not only that, I’ve apparently been feeding him the WRONG dog food. He’s got a gluten/soy/dairy/meat allergy, which in essence explains the eye leakage, sneezes, and possible ear troubles. Great. I should be shot.

Five prescriptions, an insanely expensive organic fish-based dog food, and $200 later, we’re on our way home and I feel terrible. Apollo is watching me from the passenger seat with those sad, sullen, how-could-you-let-this-happen-to-me eyes and I’m doing my best to avoid eye contact. Oh god, how am I going to explain this to Husband! (Whose response later on was a mere, “it’s just an ear infection, you’ve got meds, he’ll be fine.” He didn’t get it.) He’s the love of my life and I’ve just been so caught up in my own dietary restrictions and medical shenanigans, that I’ve been neglecting him. What a wake up call, it’s not like he can tell me that his ears bothering him, or that his food makes his stomach hurt. He can’t tell me that his eyes are itchy or that he needs a tissue. I love this dog with all of my heart and I feel like absolute shit.

So, I’ll be spending the next two weeks pampering my baby, cuddling and snuggling with my baby, using the best pre-mommyhood mommy voices I can muster up to make sure he knows how sorry I am and how much I love him. He’s my son. No doubt about it. I say this all the time to Tommy: “That’s your dog, but that’s my son. He was supposed to be my child, I swear he’s me in a pooch-body,” and I mean it! I mean how else do you explain the frequent infections (his ears & my body), the sudden gluten/soy/dairy intolerance (both him and I), the extra-loving, sleeps-with-his-head-propped-up-on-my-feet, early-morning-nose-kisses, joined-at-the-hip, follows-me-everywhere-I-go, responds-to-the-secret-language-only-he-and-I-understand, completely connected type of bond we share!! Exactly! He was meant to be my son, and I, his mama!

So coo on you strange, smothering parentals… I totally get it…

-Jenn

Apollo, my son.

Apollo, my son.

Heavy Duty Shizz.

Heavy Duty Shizz.