Wild Man Charlie

So the last time I actually sat down and wrote something for this blog was in September. And it was about my family’s dog, Lucy.

The reason I haven’t really written since September also has to do with a dog. Only this time it’s my dog. That I am solely in charge of.

Yes you heard that right. Let me start at the beginning. But first, here he is, Charlie, the monster. Note the resemblance to the dog from “Up.”

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There hasn’t been a time in the past few years, that I haven’t been searching for a puppy. Especially before I moved back home with Mom and Dad, and again when I moved out. I can’t tell you how many times I visited the Kentucky Humane Society website and imaginary-adopted puppies/dogs.

I had to stop after a while because I was saving money and they were looking more and more affordable and I wasn’t ready for all that yet. Home first, then, once I figured out how to be a homeowner, I’d be a pet owner.

But life doesn’t work that way. And I’m so glad it doesn’t.

Late in the summer, I puppy-sat for my cousin, Blake, and his girlfriend, Amanda’s dog, Molly. She’s a black lab and she’s adorable and crazy and I had her for a week while they went to the beach.

Despite the two days she peed in the house and the night she tore her entire bed into tiny little pieces, I realized I really liked having some company in my house, especially the four-legged kind.

I told Amanda and Blake as much when they got back to pick Molly up, and mentioned if they knew anyone looking to give up a dog to a good home, to let me know, meanwhile, the trolling of the Humane Society site and the imaginary adoptions began again.

Fast-forward to mid-September. Amanda texted me, wanting to know if I’d be interested in a 9-month-old Golden Retriever puppy. Golden Retriever, as in the only kind of dog I’ve ever had, the kind I one day wanted, no matter how much I looked at other breeds of dogs and tried to convince myself otherwise.

The puppy was a boy, named Charlie. And he’d had a rough time. His owners, a young couple, had gotten him around the same time they had a baby. Now they’d broken up, and the girl couldn’t keep him. And she didn’t want to leave him with the guy, because he’d been beating up on Charlie with a belt.

I didn’t hear anything after that. I said I’d take him. I think she mentioned he was free, and house-trained, and they’d bring his food and a crate and his leash to me Sunday if that would work and he’d had his shots….

Gone was the idea of getting this tiny little baby puppy and naming him Hank, because I’d for some reason gotten stuck on that name, and no it’s not because of Breaking Bad.

Also these are the three pics she sent me to “try and convince me” and honestly after that one with the snow came through I may have passed out:

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So the day we met…

On our first walk, Charlie tried to choke himself. It was the scariest thing I’ve ever witnessed and I am really glad I wasn’t alone because I would have lost it.

You see, in prep for him to come live with me, I didn’t get him a new collar. I figured he had one, and he did, but it was a shitty one. It was one of those chains and since he’s a puppy and he was anxious and he didn’t know better yet, he pulled and pulled and it got too tight. He started walking like he was drunk and sat down hard on the ground and that’s when we realized it and loosened it up. That’s also when I felt like the shittiest dog owner ever. Great start, right?

We tried the crate for a while, and he hated it. It lasted approximately two weeks.

He only pooped in the house once that first week, and I blame Rachel. She got him too excited and he started going and then we yelled for him to stop and he ran, while still pooping, and like it often is with gross stuff that happens when Rach and I are together, I cleaned it up while she kept him occupied.

Those first few weeks months were more hard than not. I was dealing with a dog that had been through some bad stuff, and didn’t know how to handle it. He was taken to a new home, completely different environment. Was still a PUPPY. I think that was the hardest part. I was a kid when we’d first had both of our dogs at Mom and Dad’s. Mom handled the training and we just got to play with the puppy. I had no clue.

He chewed so much stuff. He jumped on the couch, which I first tried to stop but then gave up on. #chooseyourbattles

Like I said, he hated the crate, so when that was no longer an option, he stayed in the part of my house that has no carpet, because it was easier to clean. Then we dealt with his separation anxiety – I was in my bedroom where I wasn’t allowing him, and he was pissed and stressed. So for a while, I had to set up this elaborate thing that kept him out of the living room while I put the gate in front of my bedroom because he could PUSH IT OPEN.

Did I mention he’s just turning one this month and came to me the size of a bear? So, reallll easy to control…

Yeah.

So this all sounds like he was a pain, doesn’t it? Well, most — 98 percent — can be attributed to me, having not been a puppy owner. I had no idea how to train him. Add to that all his other anxieties and fears from his last home and, well, yeah, there were many frustrated texts to my mom.

And thennnnnn we got training. Once a week, we’d meet at the pet store with other dogs and learn manners and tricks and how to behave, kind of.

The first two nights at training I cried after. He was so scared, and I hated it for him. He doesn’t like other dogs and it took all my strength to keep him from running at them, even on his leash. He didn’t sit the entire first two classes either. He stood, and panted. I thought he’d never feel or do any better.

And then he did.

Every week at that training he got better and better, learning things so fast and one week, he was the only one who went through the tunnels on the first try. I was a proud momma. We got “Most Improved” at the end of our classes.

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And things got better and better at home, too. He got more used to me and his house and what he was and wasn’t allowed to do and we worked on things.

Some days are still hard, because he’s still a puppy and still had a hard time before me. And because I’m the only one who lives with him and have to be gone some weeks more than others.

But the good outweighs the bad now and I cannot remember life before him. And don’t want to. There was one night that was particularly hard. I ended up crying on the floor of the entryway after a call to my dad about how hard it had been that day with Charlie had resulted in him saying “If it’s too hard and you need to give up, people will understand.”

So I sat on the floor, crying and petting Charlie. And he licked the tears off my face and I kept saying “I’m NOT giving up on you.”

And I won’t.

Now, he sleeps at the end of my bed – sometimes on the floor, sometimes on my feet. He doesn’t pull on walks, he listens (most of the time). He cuddles in the morning. He watches shows with me. He’s a different dog than when I first got him. But so much is still the same. I don’t want to change him, I just want him to feel better and more comfortable and happy. And we’re getting there, every day.

I miss him when I’m not home, and I kind of want to get him a vest to take him everywhere like a service dog, but he behaves NOTHING like a service dog, so that would last about 3 seconds.

He came to live with me at a time when my depression was starting to get a little bit bad again and despite the stressful parts, he helped me, so much. Nothing gets you over and distracted from your own anxieties and bullshit like having to take care of another living thing.

If you want to see an obsessive amount of pics, follow me on Instagram. And look at the pictures in the slideshow at the bottom of this post.

But for now, some important lists, because, do you remember who’s writing this?

Things Charlie has chewed up and/or chewed a hole in:
– Two comforters
– Part of a mattress pad
– Carpet
– Pair of yoga pants
– Three shirts
– A pen
– The curtain that hangs on the window on my front door and all the pieces that hold it up
– A pillow
– Two towels
– $10 cash

Nicknames he has accrued:
– Wild Man Charlie (From his training class teacher)
– Charles
– Chahles (said w/British accent)
– Charlie (also said with British accent)
– Babe
– Baby
– Bubbie
– Bubba
– Bub
– Buddy
– Turd

In all seriousness though, he’s the best. And he’s my buddy, and I will forever be grateful that I was thought of when he needed a new, good home.

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