the Monster:
i started writing this Monster Review, and the PSE review i posted yesterday, a few weeks ago, around Valentine's Day.
i thought Valentine's Day would be a great occasion to evaluate the ones you love.
but then other things happened and i had to post other entries and this one got pushed back by three weeks.
and subsequently changed what i was going to write about quite significantly.
i started off writing about how the Monster has come along nicely over the past eight months.
i started off writing that she had a bit of a ruff start, [ha, ha, ha,] but that in due time, she has come to fit in nicely with our family and all of her major problems had abated.
but, her problems haven't abated at all, they've persisted, and that's fucking obnoxious.
let's start with some good news, first...

what the Monster is doing right:
i've said it before several times, but the Monster is the sweetest, most loving animal i have ever met.
she has never shown any signs of ill temper to me whatsoever.
i pick her up, flop her around, manhandle her, and she just takes it all in good humor.
even under the stress and strain of bathtime the Monster can manage to keep a civil disposition.
the Monster has never once tried to bite me or snarled at me and only snarled at the PSE once when i wasn't around when the PSE tried to tear a chew stick out of her mouth.
since then, however, the Monster has kept her temper with the PSE, too.
after living with the Dog and the Dog's nasty temperament for nine years, having a best friend who doesn't bite you whenever she is displeased is a refreshing change of pace.

the Monster has also learned so much in her eight months of living with us.
when the Monster came to us she seemingly had no concept of what it was like to live with humans.
she didn't seem to be house-trained, she didn't know any commands and gave us the impression she had never been talked-to by people before.
every time we spoke to her she reacted with a combination of confusion and fear.
but, over time, the Monster has adapted to an impressive array of behaviors, commands and signals, some of which we explicitly taught her and others she picked up on her own.
sit, stay, lay down, stand up, shake, spin around, jump over things, jump on top of things, move over, scratch at the door to show you need a walk.
she's not great at all of her commands, but she''ll do them maybe seventy-five percent of the time.
the point being, the Monster behaves like a proper, socialized house-pet now, not a strange, wild animal who doesn't know how to act around people and it is heartwarming to know that's because of the PSE.
we've taught our little friend everything she knows.

the Monster is really, really needy.
this is a bad thing for reasons i'll get into below, but it's a good thing, too. i'm pretty needy myself.
i was the kind of child who had a lot of stuffed animals growing up, always cuddling something, and now, i have a real life, living breathing thing that just wants to be cuddled, too.
the Monster will crawl into my lap and i'll pet her absentmindedly for hours.
when i feel like i want to hug something, i'll scoop her up and squeeze her tight and she genuinely seems to enjoy it.
sometimes, when i'm not petting her, she'll come along and bang her face into my hand, demanding pets, which i am happy to provide.
it's the perfect reciprocal relationship.

the Monster plays fetch, somewhat.
she's not all that great at it, it's hard to entice her to play and when she does, she'll only get the ball and bring it back to us maybe thirty-five percent of the time, the other times she just gets distracted and/or goes to her food dish to drink water as some kind of a nervous tick, but when we can get her to fetch, it's great fun.
thirty-five percent of a fetch is more fetch then i've ever had with a dog that i've owned, except a Cockapoo i lived with in Delaware once, but that doesn't really count because she wasn't mine.
the PSE and i are also working with the Monster on doing circus tricks, on climbing up on top of us and standing on us, but that'll be a ways to go, if it ever comes at all.

finally, i've said it before, but the Monster's best feature is her fucking waggity tail.
she'll be standing on the ground, or she'll be curled up on the couch watching you, and when you look at her, hr tail will start going, hi! hi! hi! hi! hi!
and then you go and touch her and she'll stop wagging, but, the second you take your hand off of her, she'll start up again.
odds are her waggity tail is less about showing her happiness and enthusiasm like i like to interpret it and more likely some kind of terrible nervous condition, the equivalent of those girls who pull out their own hair and eat it, but it looks so adorable and it doesn't seem to trouble her any.

what the Monster is doing wrong:
oh, fuck, where to start?
the Monster still acts like a goddamned jackass when we go out on walks.
every time she sees a cat she will attempt to dart off after it.
every time she sees a dog behind a fence, she will try to run up to he fence, whimpering and crying.
every time she gets approached by a dog, she will lunge at it, trying to bite its face.
the Monster acts not from a place of dominance and aggression but blind, panicked fear.
the whole wide world outside is a threat to her and she doesn't know what to do with it.
it's gotten to the point where the PSE and i almost never let her off the leash anymore, she has to be tethered to us almost every time we go out.
but still, two or three times on any given walk she will spazz out at some stimulus and get jerked back by the neck.
it would be funny if it wasn't so embarrassing, and didn't threaten to collapse her larynx.

the Monster still hasn't figured out to scratch at the door when she needs a walk.
the Monster figured out that we don't want her to piss in our house easy enough but, after all this time, she hasn't figured out to just ask us when she needs to go out to relieve herself.
the Monster will just wait for us to ask her if she wants out, which is almost passive-aggressive, if dogs had a concept of that.
the Monster will scratch at other doors she wants us to open, if i'm in my office with the door closed and she wants in she'll scratch, and before every time we take the Monster outside we have her scratch at the door, but she does not seem to be able to make the leap in logic to reverse the procedure and scratch at the door to get us to take her out.
i really prefer a dog who is responsible for her own bathroom needs.
i shouldn't have to ask you if you need to go outside, little buddy. you should tell me.

finally, after eight months of living with us, three months of which she was nearly constantly by our side, the Monster still hasn't tempered her separation anxiety
we got the Monster to a point where the PSE and i could leave her home alone for forty-five minutes, an hour, maybe an hour and a half, tops, without her getting destructive.
any more then that and she really loses her shit.
even in that first hour she's not calm, she'll pace around the apartment like a caged jungle cat, but she only starts to fuck shit up at the ninety-minute mark.
two Tuesdays ago the PSE had to go tryout for a Drug Study over in Dallas on the same day that i had to be in Law School from 8:30am to 3:20pm, requiring the Monster to be left home alone for over seven and a half hours, and goodness knows our little special needs dog can't be left home alone for seven and a half hours.
when i came home from school, the Monster had tore up the carpet in front of the door and in front of her food dish.
it wasn't all ripped up like she used to do, but it was a good start.
the PSE worked really hard to lay down vinyl flooring in front of all the doors to keep the Monster from doing this shit, but that doesn't seem to have stopped her like we were hoping.
the PSE and i were hoping that, after three months of us working with her, never leaving her home alone for more then any hour, trying to get her to be secure in her place in our family, she might have matured out of her separation anxiety enough to chill the fuck out when we leave her alone but that is not the case.
it seems there is no curing the Monster of the demons in her head.
the Monster is a profoundly insecure dog.
i've dated this girl before. there is no fixing her.
we will be stuck with our little problem child for however long she might live.
that's a problem, but it's what we've got.

//[ab irato ad astra]

September 2017

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