Dog Gone It!

By Vince Churchill

So…just over three years ago, the wife and I said goodbye to the world of renting and took on the challenge of home ownership. We bought a condo south of Springfield, and looked forward to the trials and tribulations of making the place our own. An immediate upside of buying a place was that we could have a dog. The apartment we’d been renting was a no-pet zone.

So…we kept our eye out at the Sangamon Animal Shelter for possible adoptees. We eventually took a trip out to Springfield’s APL. The Animal Protection League is a great organization when it comes to dog and cat adoption, the spay and neuter clinic, and their commitment to the welfare of neglected and abused animals. The wife and I understood that some of the animals might have come from tough situations, which might have had an effect on their personalities, temperament, etc.

The wife was eyeballing a beautiful, yet hyper Australian Shepherd, but that high energy breed didn’t really fit our lifestyle. We were also looking for a big addition – German Shephard size or larger. Just a big, fun, dopey dog.

We ended up choosing a really cute seven month male mutt puppy, who, at the time, had big paws we hoped were an indication of future growth potential. The folks at the APL reinforced our hope. We took him home, and after much conversation, named him Bishop.

Bishop is very handsome. He has the markings of a Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog. He weighs in at about 45 pounds. He’s got some good qualities, and the wife adores him.

But…here’s the thing. It’s coming up on three years and I don’t like our dog. Part of me feels guilty for making such a statement publically, but another part of me feels liberated for admitting it.

Bishop isn’t a “bad” dog. He isn’t destructive or aggressive around people or other dogs. He’s good around our toddler granddaughter, and if anything is too attentive to her. He is relatively smart and obedient, and generally likeable.

I contend that my lack of an amicable relationship with my dog is not any different from my lack of relationships with many good people in the world. Sometimes two good people just don’t “click”, so you don’t become friends. No one is to blame. There’s no bad guy. *shrug* It happens every day all over the world. So…why not between dog and dog owner?

I know inquiring minds want details, but let’s just say Bishop has some personality traits that aren’t a good match for mine, and leave it at that.

It’s sad because I really wanted a dog. Check that – I really wanted a Great Dane, or a German shepherd, or a Rottweiler, or a Mastiff, or a Saint Bernard, but when push came to shove, I just couldn’t part with the money to buy a pure breed pup where you could go meet the parents and interact with the litter. I also recognize Bishop is most likely going to be the last dog I’ll ever have. Getting a second dog comes up on occasion, but every day I’m just another day past it.

Now, before you send the angry and disappointed emails, or worse yet, gather your torches and pitch folks to storm my castle, UNDERSTAND THIS – Bishop is a major Momma’s dog. He gets plenty of love and attention from the wife. He is well taken care of, has a great bed to sleep in, great food to eat, gets played with regularly, and ends up in my wife’s lap more than I do. I’m just not very involved with him. When the wife’s not around, I keep up the daily routine, but that’s about it.

Thing is, I can’t be the only person trapped in this long term pet purgatory. Like my wife loves to remind me, I chose him, and despite my numerous half-joking offers of hundreds of dollars for family or friends to take him, no one ever accepts. So I’m stuck feeling like the bad guy in my own home, with no recourse other than the one suggested by my wife, which is to simply “get over it.”

But honestly, that notion makes me angry. My life would be so much better if Bishop and I had bonded and developed the typical loving pet and owner relationship, but we didn’t.

How’s that old song go? When you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with?

Great song, but it ain’t happening at the Churchill casa.

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