Emily Timbol

I No Longer Judge Parents With Leash Kids

Jun
07

Three weeks ago, a few days shy of a month into marriage, Ryan and I decided to adopt a dog. Both of us are huge animal lovers and frequent, enthusiastic “godparents” to more than a few of our friends pets. I have never had a dog, and always felt a longing for something to take on walks and play fetch with (my cat growing up didn’t like chasing tennis balls.) Ryan and I had been looking at breeds, rescue organizations, and available dogs for months before we finally found the new addition to our family at a “Super Adoption” event, put on by the Best Friends Animal Society.

We (re)named him Haymitch, and he’s a two year old German Shepherd mix. When we first got him, we were convinced he was mixed with Corgi. After last night, we think he may be mixed with whatever demon it was that made “Marley” from Marley & Me so mischievous.

He looks cute right? Oh he’s cute alright, cute as the DEVIL.
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One of the things that made Ryan and I fall in love with Haymitch was that, in a room filled with cages of yapping, barking, jumping at the bars dogs, Haymitch was calmly laying down with a “meh” look on his face. He was relaxed, quiet, and seemingly at ease – all things we wanted in a dog. Within hours of taking him home and witnessing his coughing up mucus all over our floor, we realized this was not due to his Dazed and Confused type personality, but a severe case of kennel cough. Four hours at the vet, and close to $200 later, he was on strong meds, back at our home.
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The next week went by with him being the perfect dog. Laying around on the floor, eating whatever we fed him, only barking twice – once at the pizza guy, and once at Ryan’s especially tall, imposing looking friend. He walked fine on a leash, ran around the yard, and happily sniffed at dogs he encountered on walks. He even already knew how to “Sit” and “Shake (paws).” More than once Ryan and I exclaimed to each other “Wow! We really lucked out! He is such the perfect dog! No problems at all!”
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Little did we know, he was just feeling us out, biding his time.
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The only two problems we had were his occasionally having “accidents” when left in the house, and twice running out of the yard when one of us forgot to latch the gate. With hard wood floors, and friendly neighbors that helped us corral him, we easily dealt with both. “Hey” Ryan said “If that’s the worst we have to deal with, I’m not worried at all.” I stupidly agreed.
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Last night, after I got home from work (like I’ve done every night for the past three weeks) I let Haymitch out into the yard after dropping off my purse inside. I grabbed the tennis balls he loves to chase and headed out to play with him for a bit. That’s when I saw the cute, black, but not on a leash dog, moseying on up to our short fence. The fence that I had caught Haymitch twice trying (unsucesfully) to climb. At first I was a little concerned, but after sniffing each other through the slats, neither dog barked or showed any signs of aggression. I walked up to the dog, and noticed he didn’t have a collar on. Making the worst decision I’ve probably made in months, I decided to dart back inside the house real quick, to grab Haymitch’s leash, so that he could go outside and see the dog.
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It must have been no more than 12 seconds, but when I returned back to the yard, the black dog was gone. Worse, so was Haymitch. I ran to the fence and leaned over, just in time to see both their furry butts headed toward the park. Great. It is worth mentioning at this point, that the prior two times Haymitch has escaped, he refused to come to me when called, and I only got him back (the first time) when a neighbor grabbed him, and (the second time) when I lured him back with a shake of his treat bag. Conveniently, both these times were when Ryan wasn’t around.
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Running back into the house, and quickly grabbing his leash (but making the second worst decision I’ve made in months and leaving his harness) I made my way into the park. Haymitch and the black dog were about 30 yards in front of me, just following each other along like they were old friends.
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“Haymitch! Here boy” I called in a friendly, dripping-with-sugar tone. He turned around and looked at me but keept going. “Come on Haymitch! You want dinner? Treats?” This time he ignored me. He probably could tell I was bluffing. After terrifying a small little girl who apparently was afraid of dogs, whose father I had to shout an apology to, they headed straight through the park, to the neighborhood on the other side. Where I proceeded to follow behind them, sweating and huffing and puffing, for a good 25 minutes. Finally, after circling the block, they headed to the tennis court, where I was able to corner him by some trash cans, and attach his leash to his collar.
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Tired, and fairly embarrassed from just calling out the name of a fictional character from Hunger Games for twenty-five minutes, I crouched down to tell him what a bad boy he’d been. Then I stood up and started leading him home. To get home, we had to get back through the park, so we started that way. He’d only been back on the leash for about two minutes when we both, at the same time, saw the golden retriever happily fetching a stick for his masters, about 50 yards away. Apparently still feeling rather social, Haymitch ran toward him, extending his leash to it’s full extension. Right as I yelled “No!” the impossible happened. Under the strain of his full weight, his collar snapped open. Off sprinted Haymitch, right towards the retriever, to the dismay both of the dog, and his owners. Chasing after him I yelled “He’s friendly, I’m sorry! He just broke out of his collar!” They gave me wary glances, and after realizing I wasn’t getting control of my dog any time soon, quickly left. Of course Haymitch darted off, again, this time towards the other side of the tennis courts. Where there is a large playground. Right next to the road.
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Passing a cute older couple on a bench, I ran like a crazy woman, trying to prevent him from licking too many kids with over protective parents. He evaded my attempts to corner him in the playground and ran toward the parking lot, where I really started to panic. Not 10 yards away is an incredibly busy road, where cars travel close to 45 miles an hour, all day. By the time I got to the parking lot I saw that he somehow crossed the street without being hit. I think when he saw my face he knew he was in trouble. Now, he’s running on the sidewalk across the street, and I’m panicked, since I have to wait for traffic to stop before I can cross, for the first time hoping he doesn’t run to me. At this point, people are stopping, trying to let me pass, and a work truck has pulled over and tried to corner him for me. The sweaty, haggard looking woman in the dress shoes probably looked like she needed help, which is why more than one person asked me if I’d like any. At this point, not only am I exhausted, I’m also hugely embarrassed.
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Somehow he escaped all of us, and ran back across the street towards the park. He circled the tennis courts, when I saw it. Oh God no. An open gate. That lead to a tennis court. Full of children taking a group lesson. I’m praying at this point “oh no, no, no, don’t go in there”, but of course it’s too late. By the time I got to the court he’s running around it, trying to decide which tennis ball to gobble up, while the kids alternate between screaming “dog on the court!!” to “ooh puppy!!” The two instructors looked alarmed, and I tried my hardest to assure them he’s harmless. The older gentlemen, who looked less than amused, growled “Hardly any dogs are harmless.”
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Since I (making my first wise decision of the evening) closed the gate before chasing him, I was able to corner him when he tried to leave, re-securing his leash to the collar. Finally, it was over. Shaking, covered in sweat, horribly, horribly embarrassed, I once again started to lead him toward the park back to our house.
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Right as we were passing that same old couple, who half kindly had joked “who’s walking who?” after the second time I’d passed by them wildly calling his name, Haymitch spotted two squirrels running up a tree. I was just about to tell the couple, “I finally caught him!” when in a blink of an eye, he pulled away from me, fully extended the leash, and popped the cheap ass collar that by now I was dreaming of setting on fire. Off towards the squirrels he ran.
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At this point, I was having a serious internal debate over how easy it’d be to convince my friends that the dog we got was a big joke, and really, Ryan and I had always wanted a cat. If I’m being totally honest, the biggest thing that kept me from saying “oh screw this” and heading home, was knowing how disappointed Ryan would be if he came back from work and I told him we didn’t have a dog anymore and that was A-OK with me. So for the third time, I took off after Haymitch, realizing I now had blisters on the backs of both of my heels, since I didn’t change out of my wedges before chasing him.
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Thankfully, even Haymitch could probably tell at this point that he was seconds away from being a stray again, because it only took me about five minutes to get him back the third time. I cornered him at the tennis court, panting adorably at some nice man talking to him through the fence, with who else, but the black dog from earlier. After, yet again, putting his collar back on and securing the leash, I then proceed to half drag him the entire 1/4 mile home, all while crouching down so I could keep my hand closed over the crappy clasp on his collar.
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By the time I got back to the house I was so angry, that to prevent myself from screaming bloody murder at him, I put him in his kennel and jumped into a long, freezing cold shower. Every previous time we’d tried to put him in the kennel he’d whined, or tried to get out, but not this time! He stayed totally silent and still in that kennel for over an hour.
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After Ryan got home and I filled him in on the events of the day (after he stopped laughing) we agreed on two things 1) We’re going to do a better job of training our “perfect” dog and 2) The worst part about the whole ordeal is that it’s impossible to stay mad at him, when he makes faces like this:

I’ll just say this. Ryan and I are definitely, definitely not having kids any time soon.

3 Responses to I No Longer Judge Parents With Leash Kids

  1. This is awesome :), Also, I hope Jacob never reads it! 😉

  2. Haymitch had the time of his life! What an adventure for him! Hahaha!

  3. Pingback: It’s Here!! My First Book, “Two Words: Why Hearing “I’m Gay” Changed My Straight, Christian Life” – Emily Timbol's Blog

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