Some of you already know about what happened to me and Lucy last weekend. The Incident took place just before our third Petsmart puppy training class began.
Indulge me in a little bit of backstory. During our first two puppy classes, my American Collie pup Lucy, my two girls and I were asked to remain behind a blanketed fence during instruction for the duration of each sixty-minute-long session. We were asked to do that so Lucy wouldn’t bark constantly and distract Belinda, our young instructor, or provoke the other three puppies in attendance. I understood the need to be “in hiding”, and while I was less-than-thrilled about it, of course I acquiesced. I was also advised to buy Lucy a harness; it was supposed to safer on her trachea area in her neck when she pulled forward relentlessly and control her much better than a standard leash would. I bought one right away. I’d do anything I possibly could do if it meant helping Lucy be healthy and happy.
After the first class I asked Belinda for her opinion about the doggie calming bites, calming gels and calming sprays I noticed for sale on the supplement aisle. She told me using those products for Lucy would be like giving chamomile to someone with a full-blown anxiety disorder! I understand exactly where she was coming from with that analogy, as I’ve suffered with anxiety for years, but I bought the stuff anyway, hoping for a miracle! (Belinda was right – the calming bites and gel didn’t work, but I was soon tempted to try them myself!)
As we headed out of the store, Belinda walked beside us and told me, “Lucy will probably need additional training apart from what this class can provide, such as private lessons. I’ll get you a flyer -hang on a sec!” As Belinda got us the information, I knew in my heart that Lucy was special and I wasn’t offended by her suggestion. However, I was stressed out about our finances and the private fees were not cheap! I put the private session topic on the back burner in my exhausted brain and we headed home…
Last Saturday was a heatwave and our third Petsmart class took place at 3:00 p.m., the hottest time of the day. I gathered Lucy and my daughter Marilla, grabbed the required bag of puppy treats and drove us to the store. It was quite a workout for me to simply make the thirty-minute drive because my anxiety had skyrocketed due to a medication change. I wasn’t going to let that get in the way of Lucy’s canine education, however. We arrived at the store early so we could walk Lucy up and down the air-conditioned aisles to bring down her massive energy level – my fluffball could light up a city with the exuberance she has at almost five-months-old. (In hindsight, this was not such a wise decision.)
Then a few things happened that got me even more anxious than I already was.
Lucy decided that it was the perfect opportunity to relieve herself in the middle of an aisle. It had to be #2, and it was a lot of #2 – she was saving it up for a special occasion, I guess!
Now, when other dogs get near my beautiful beast, she pretty much goes batsh*t woo woo around them. Barking, lunging, you-name-it. All twenty-eight pounds of her. Honestly, it’s as if she’s possessed or auditioning for the role of Cujo’s kid sis in “Cujo Two”!
I’m a pretty strong mama, but when Lucy decides to act as if she’s channeling demons, it takes every bit of my strength to keep her leash tight in my hand and restrain her as much as possible.
So there I was, crouched low in the aisle using items needed to clean up the poop while simultaneously holding onto Lucy’s leash. Petsmart has convenient cleaning stations scattered throughout the store, thank goodness.
While I frantically cleaned up the mess, a hip couple came strolling towards us with their dog, and you can guess what happened – Lucy started flipping out. Now these idiots didn’t do the kind, intelligent move, i.e. walk in the opposite direction so I could clean up the shit in peace and so my dog wouldn’t go after their dog. No……they had to continue to mosey on by while birds chirped and violins played in their heads. I wish I had a video clip to show you of this scenario as my words don’t do it justice – it was one of those moments that pales in the writing.
The good news is that I didn’t throw shit at the self-absorbed Wonder Twins and Lucy didn’t walk through her poop mountain either – at least I was quick enough with the clean-up.
It was time for class to start. I was ready to get it over with. I stood near the room’s entrance with Lucy andMarilla and lo and behold, a customer and his little dog walked near us. Lucy went off in her inimitable “The sky is falling!!!!!” style in which she practically levitated. If her pretty little head started circling around a la Linda Blair in “The Exorcist”, I wouldn’t have been surprised.
The teacher strode up to us. My first thought was, “Dammit! I’m in trouble.” Although Belinda is in her early twenties and I’m twice her age and I’ve been a junior high school substitute, I actually get intimidated by anyone in an “authority” position. It’s ridiculous. I’ve cried in front of police officers for the dumbest reasons you can imagine. My authority fear factor is grist for another blog post, though. Back to being booted out….
“I think that it would be best if we don’t have Lucy in this class,” she said. “She’s barking so much and she’s aggressive – technically we’re not supposed to have aggressive dogs in class.”
My face turned red and I got even sweatier. I could feel rivers start to flow underneath my arms. Marilla wasn’t aggrieved by our being singled out, as she’s a very confident six-year-old, but I felt like a BAD PUPPY MOM!
“Why don’t I call you and see about transferring a credit for you to have private lessons?” I nodded my head in assent. “That sounds like a good idea,” I mumbled. I just wanted to get the hell out of there and find some gourmet chocolate ice cream to soothe my humiliated soul.
How is this bipolar-related? Well, it’s going to be a stretch, but I can do it. When Marilla, Lucy and I reached the sweltering parking lot outside Petsmart, a handsome young man called out to me. He sat on a sheltered bench with his enormous Malamute mix, a magnificent dog who had so much dark shaggy hair that I felt sorry for him. (He looked a little like a Wookie!)
He asked if Lucy would want to meet his dog!
Well, while my jaw dropped as I took that in, a pretty girl walked towards us and when she passed me, she said in a rude, snarky tone, “That would be a train wreck!” It was an innocent-enough sounding sentence given the situation, but it was her tone I had the problem with.
At that point I was so physically and emotionally depleted, plus it was 85 degrees and I was sweating from every pore. When that girl snarked past us in her flouncy dress that probably cost three times as much as my outfit, she pissed the shit out of me!
Now, the unstable Dyane, i.e. the woman on wrong bipolar meds or no bipolar meds, would have called out to her in rage.
“Fuck you!’ might have been one zinger I would have spat out at her. Or “Why don’t you come and say that to my face, bitch?” would be another. Oh, there are plenty more ribald sentences I could have hurled at her despite Marilla’s presence
But I held back. Meds do that for me now. But they don’t totally squelch my vibrant personality!
This is what I decided to retort off the top of my head:
“I love nice people!” I said, loud enough for her to hear. This is progress, bipolar-wise, as far as I’m concerned. I’m no longer easily triggered, looking for a fight. While I was angry at the girl and wanted a target for my frustrations, I was able to move past it and focus on the matter at hand. Without an F-bomb!
“Snarky” didn’t look back at me but she continued flouncing into the air-conditioned store. I feel sorry for the cat, dog, fish or rodent that she must own.
Meanwhile, the young man left his dog sitting calmly behind him as he walked our way. I swear that dog was the Dalai Lama of dogs, and he was fine about his owner walking the twenty feet over to us. The young man had observed Lucy’s behavior in the store. “I’m Matias,” he said. “I used to be a dog trainer.” He had a kind face and I didn’t feel judged or intimidated by him in the least.
“Hmmmm!” I thought. “I wish he had been our teacher!” While I wasn’t able to hire Matias on the spot, he seemed open to giving us a little free advice. One example is that recommended offering Lucy a treat in the split second when a dog walked near her and she hadn’t yet barked as if it was an Olympic sport.
I was upset from my store experience. I asked Matias if he thought that Lucy was a hopeless case. “Far from it,” he assured me. “It’s certainly not tragic. She would need consistent training, but she’ll be fine.” Matias gave me hope and made me feel better. I figured he knew what he was talking about as his dog was incredibly well-behaved. As we drove out of the lot, I saw Matias riding a bike with his dog trotting perfectly beside him. Heads turned at the pair – they were quite a sweet sight.
As I drove back home, Marilla and I agreed that some locally made Polar Bear Ice Cream at our local coffee shop was in order. I looked forward to getting my favorite flavor, the fittingly named “Dirty Paws”. (SO GOOD!) Life would go on and I knew that I’d feel better after I blogged about my Petsmart afternoon. And I was right about that! 😉