Meet Joanna. She may be my unraveling.

My life has forever (or at least for the next 10-12 years) been altered. My days are no longer my own. I am now slave to a stinky 12-week old hound named Joanna. Yes, she is adorable. Yes, her eyes are little pools of gentle and sweet. Yes, her paws are big and she is clumsy cute. Those are the reasons why she is still alive (or not living with my sister).  The dog is ruining my life.

Let me go back to the beginning.

Joanna 11 wksMy husband and 11-year old son Christopher really wanted a dog. Christopher researched all dogs to find the perfect breed for our family. He presented pages and pages of information on each. We watched every dog show on TV and studied episode after episode of The Dog Whisperer. We asked dog owners for advice.  Everyone said the same thing: Labs are the best dogs ever. You will fall in love.

Nowhere anywhere or from anyone did I read or hear that Labs are the worst puppies ever.  Those words were not in print or spoken by anyone. They did not tell me the dog would bite and gnaw and think I was a chew toy. I had a professional dog trainer come to the house to evaluate the dog because I thought perhaps this was not a normal pooch. I thought that maybe somehow I ended up with the crazy of the litter. For a month the dog charged and jumped on me. She wanted my sweater, bathrobe, pants, anything. She wanted ME – probably in little tasty bits.  I took it personally.  I would actually cry and think over and over, “why, why, why did I get this dog??”  She was obnoxious and ill-mannered — and I had the bruises to prove it. One morning I told Christopher, “Don’t go in the yard with her, she’s nuts.” He replied, “Why would I? She’s a savage.” Yes, I thought. That fit.

The dog will eat drywall, action figures, wicker, electric wires, candles, plastic, dirt, fuzz, cardboard, tissues, and she turned on my gas stove. She chewed the metal knobs and all the corners off my coffee table. Chewed my big comfy chair in the living room.  She even devoured some papers from work – the classic dog ate my homework scenario. I told my husband I need my own apartment.

One day, we opened the back door to let her in. She sprinted toward the living room, jumped up on my coffee table, skidded across onto the couch, and came in for a landing on top of the back pillows.

So scratch the Pottery Barn look. You can’t have anything nice like shells, candles, or books on the coffee table.  She will eat it all and then it will cost you $2,500 at the vets.

Oh, and scratch sleeping in. Every morning at 6:20am, including Saturday and Sunday (she doesn’t take off, she’s a hard worker and very committed to her job), Joanna is barking at the top of her lungs to be let out of her crate.  My husband Michael and I try to ignore her because we want to train her to wait until 7am.  Inevitably at 6:40am, Michael jumps out of bed to attend to this demanding creature.  That’s when I pull the covers over my head and say, “Did you ever think owning a dog would be this much fun?”

Joanna wants our undivided attention. She wants to chew on us. She wants to eat my sofa. She wants all my shoes. She wants to sit on me and make me smell like a dog. She wants to go for a walk and drag us down the block. She wants to go outside. She wants to come inside right away. She wants to EAT. All the time.  You can’t leave anything out on a counter or table – it will be eaten in 2 seconds flat. She wants what we have, anytime we have it. We have to rush through dinner and “sneak eat.”  I don’t want to open the cabinets or refrigerator because if she hears crinkling or silverware, we’re doomed.

One last rant. The cost of owning a dog is outrageous. I have had 5 cats over a 20-year period – and Joanna has already in her short time with us, cost more than all of them combined. Between the vet exams and shots, dog walker, flea and tick medicine, toys, crates, beds (which she tears up), leashes, collars, food, insurance, a fence around our yard, and dog training I am in the thousands with Joanna and she hasn’t even been fixed yet.

I must be fair, when it comes to potty training, Joanna is amazing. And if I had to choose only one thing for her to be best in, this would definitely be it.  If she did all the stuff above AND peed on the floor, I would be locked up right now. She had only 2 accidents in the very beginning and that was it.  She goes to her potty-spot in the yard – a nice fluffy bush that’s low to the ground. She really likes fluffy bushes to pee in.  Oh, and she also likes to lay in the bush that she pees in.  Nice.  I almost forgot about that.

Now, back to my personal dog trainer (yes, a personal trainer for my dog – I highly recommend it). She assured me that Joanna is a normal, obnoxious, insensitive, joyful, adorable Lab – though her playing is a little on the rough side and her energy level is slightly on the high side.  She explained that this is how Lab puppies behave.

I could not believe it. I was astonished that this was “normal” and that people purposefully choose to have one – and actually get a second. They want another Lab? Are you serious? And why doesn’t anyone tell you how bad Labs are before you get the dog? Is this a conspiracy to keep the breed alive?  Or misery loves company? Now people are very happy to share their horror stories with me.  When I ask, “you have two Labs??” and “does your dog act this way!?” They all say, “Oh yes, that’s how Labs are. Don’t worry, she will grow out of it by two or three years old.”  That’s when I really go to wig city.  Two or three years?  One of us will not make it that long.

It is a conspiracy. And I feel it is my duty to tell the real story.

I also wanted this all down on paper. It’s puppy prevention. Just in case at two years old she turns out to be the best dog ever – and I get any irrational ideas on getting another.

6 thoughts on “Meet Joanna. She may be my unraveling.

  1. A very funny blog……..Life as you knew it is OVER…….I hate to tell you I told you so..but………..aah…no big deal, the beach and trips to Sag Harbor are overrated anyway……………..DADDIO

  2. Dawn, you hit it right on the head. No one ever tells you about the damage a puppy can do, especially a Lab. I too, have 2 Labs and a Pittbull-Hound. They are a handful, but I love them to pieces! (Oh, you forgot to mention the shedding issue! What a nightmare!)

  3. I wish you would have asked me. I worked in an art gallery when the owner decided that having a Lab was a good idea. We spent the whole time trying to train it from grabbing the paper towel and doing laps around the counter. Labs are one breed that I would NEVER get. I would get a Bernese Mountain Dog or a Miniature American Shepard. However, I am a cat lover for the very same reason you are and happy to stay that way.

  4. Very funny love story!

    As a giant lover of labs, I am on my third one, I have to tell you, none of mine were like yours. The took forever to learn the outside is for peeing. Each one had their own chew habits. One loved Longaberger baskets. Especially the brand new ones. At least until the day I caught her. She learned quickly to avoid those baskets in the future. One ate a large portion of her batten stuffed bed. She pooped poly filling for a week. All the dogs were outside during the day. One got to know the UPS guy in the wrong way. She always got a treat from him. She also knew there was a cardboard box, (good for chewing) at the front door. Even when I didn’t know it was there.

    One Sat I was cleaning up the poop piles in the yard and came across 2 AA batteries and pieces of what looked like an electronic board. I later found out she devoured every piece of a UPS package that was worth $200. She destroyed the evidence, without thinking about how it would come out in the end!

    After the fourth or fifth time that I found expensive items under her favorite tree in the back yard was I smart enough to beat her to the front door on UPS days.

    That beckons the question whether I am smarter than my dog?

    I learned early that the dog looks to me for direction. They will follow in a straight line if I lead in a straight line. I had to be consistent. I will say, when you get a pup, you might as well budget for $500 or more of lost personal items in the first year. It is just going to happen!

    I couldn’t live without my lab.

    Funny thing, I have a hard time warming up to cats.

  5. Aw, Joanna is a beautiful dog. But, wow! You must be exhausted. We have a dog that’s a lab/shepherd mix. We didn’t have her as a puppy but I don’t even want to know what she was like then. She’s 6 now and so overly energetic that it’s exhausting. It’s so hard to walk her because she is insanely strong. I actually had to get x-rays because she pulled me so hard while I was walking her that I pulled something in my knee and had to wear a brace for 2 months. And that’s only one of the injuries I’ve obtained. haha. But, I love her so much and she’s a little calmer than she was before. I don’t know if this will make a difference at all with a high energy puppy but keeping our dog active seems to help tire her out and calm her down. Good luck!

  6. Dawn I loved it! I know how you feel about only finding out the bad stuff after the fact. That’s how I felt when I had my children… everyone tells you “you’ll forget the pain of childbirth”. It’s true you do, it’s the pain & stress after that you don’t forget that no one told you about, but it’s something you’d deal with over & over because of the love you feel in the end! I’m going to keep reading your work. I loved the story and could put myself right there with you.

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