Buddy the Wonder Dog grows up, I think. Maybe.

ImageYou might recall that Damn Gem, our 10-year-old lab, had surgery a few weeks ago to remove a cancerous tumor. She has made a miraculous recovery, and no longer looks like Frankenweenie. In fact, she seems happier than she’s been in years. Maybe she feels better. Or maybe she’s celebrating because Buddy the Wonder Dog has gone to SERVICE DOG BOOT CAMP! I miss him. But it’s nice to have a respite from monitoring his terrible sock-eating addiction.

And Damn Gem — well, it must be empowering to not be tackled several times a day. I wouldn’t know, since my tormentor totes adore 8-year-old son isn’t old enough to be sent away. Yet.

I had pretty much given up on the whole service dog thing. But then Dr. B saw the Pterodactyl with Buddy and said, “This needs to be a service dog,” and I was all, I KNOW, RIGHT? and she sent me to Project Chance and BJ the Wonder Dog trainer.

BJ breeds and trains autism assistance dogs, and prior to flying to Wisconsin to get Buddy, I had considered one of her dogs. Even though our son isn’t autistic, a trained dog could help him navigate life’s obstacles and mazes with a minimum of trauma/drama. Here was my choice: wait eight months and drive 45 minutes away to get a dog specifically trained to help my son, or immediately fly to Wisconsin in winter and purchase a puppy who would have no idea what we wanted of him. So of course I went to Wisconsin, because who wouldn’t want to get away for a while and have some pickled herring? (Note to self: in the future, invoke the help of St. Monica, the patron saint of patience, so recognized for putting up with her husband’s adultery. What? Seriously.)

All you naysayers who’ve been laughing uproariously about Buddy eating socks and flip-flops and pooping half his body weight daily, here’s me holding up a big giant I HAVE NOT YET BEGUN TO FIGHT sign in your face. I am going to turn this animal into a service dog even if it costs me my very last dollar. That’s how determined I am. And how financially irresponsible I am.

Buddy has been gone for eight days so far. BJ calls frequently to give me updates, and to make sure I understand that my dog has absorbed all of my whack anxieties. In her first call, she said, “His cum is sloppy,” and I was all, WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO MY DOG? and ISN’T ALL CUM SLOPPY? but then I realized she meant his ‘come,’ as in Buddy, come, and I said, “I know.”

After that, it took her five days to “get all the garbage out of his head,” she told me. “You mean garbage that I put in his head?” I asked. Awesomely awkward pause. Then: “Probably,” she said.

I’m gradually ruining every living thing in my house.

I’m glad Buddy is seeing a canine shrink and outgrowing puppy woes, but it will be a little lonely without those big yellow eyes staring at me like I’m sausage. When he comes home, he’ll be a Service Dog In Training. We’ll have to take him everywhere with us. Even out drinking! Especially out drinking. Note to self: Talk to BJ about teaching Buddy to cut me off.

The end goal is for Buddy to be the Pterodactyl’s best friend. Buddy will refocus him when he becomes anxious, and be a touchstone during times of stress or transition. If the Pterodactyl runs off, Buddy will be right by his side. He’ll help my son regulate his emotions in a way that’s more effective than, say, taking a golf club to the garage door.

Frankly, Buddy will help me with those things, too. I’ve never employed the golf club. But I did get VERY frustrated with the dishwasher the other day. (A new top rack has been shipped via priority mail.) #flimsyplasticthingy

It’s my role, in this family, to set the tone. Totally unfair, but there you have it. When I’m really mad, everybody hunkers down and waits for me to deflate. I’ve been trying to stem the outbursts more quickly, but occasionally, when SOMEBODY uses all the organic honey and a pound of sugar to make a face scrub that dries like concrete on the sink, or when SOMEBODY ELSE borrows every one of my bras for a fashion show and leaves them strewn around the house, or when ANOTHER SOMEBODY ELSE puts on bright red lipstick and kisses the wall 14 times….hold on, I’m starting to hyperventilate….deep breaths…..okay, when those things happen, like, all on the same day, I sometimes get noticeably annoyed.

When that happens, in my son’s eyes, I go from mother to monster in about 15 seconds.

The other night, after one such episode, the boy and I had both calmed down, and he sat quietly in my lap, his velvet cheek against mine. My poor Diva was in her bed crying, reading the toddler book I Love You Like Crazy Cakes over and over again, out loud. (Just stab me in the heart, please.)

“Maybe,” said my little boy, “maybe we could all take some pills so we could all behave better.”

Buddy. Buddy, you must be that pill. Here, boy.

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