Lessons of old dogs

“Do you think your pup needs to go outside?”

“Nah! i took him out a couple of hours ago! He’s just being a pest!”

Studley and i went on about our project du jour, while my ancient dog continued to try to join the game. He eventually wandered off to the living room and we went on with our adventures. Only to be interrupted a few minutes later by the unmistakable sound of a torrent of urine* being unloaded onto carpet.

Rushing toward intervention i got him hooked to his leash and opened the front door so he could take the remainder out into the bushes. We came back inside, and the poor fella looked rather forlorn, knowing he wasn’t supposed to paint the rug.

Giving him a pat on the head, i assured him that it was ok, as i set about mopping up the mess.

“It’s ok, Buddy! You tried to tell us! Nothing more you could have done!”

i got out the SpotBot to do some extraction.  Mr. Pickles sheepishly wagged his tail and looked a little less grim.

“You know, at his age?  There really isn’t anything he can do to piss me off…”

i stopped dead in my tracks.

“Why don’t i feel the same way about Mom?”

Turns out?  i do.

When i launched the blog back in 2008, one of my primary demons was my relationship with my mother.  i was angry and resentful at her for the way she treated my father.  i was frustrated by her history of ‘one bad damn decision after another’ – primarily in the arena of enabling my siblings to continue to make ‘one bad damn decision after another’.  i could not comprehend her bitterness with life, given that the last half with Dad had been far better than the first half – and she never seemed to demonstrate gratitude for the gifts around her.

But i’ve since realized that her relationship with my father was/is none of my business.  He understood and accepted her.  Who am i to weigh in on that?  Every decision she ever made regarding my siblings was made with love – she wanted to help.  She was born bitter, and will die bitter, and there’s nothing that can change that.  Her heart is generous, it just has a really thick crust on the outside.  She’s done the best she could with what she’s been given.

i can honestly say – “At 84 years old, there is nothing my Mother can do to piss me off.”

mr pickles sez

* My dog has a phenomenal capacity for piss. Through the years, he has developed the ability to hold onto it for many hours.  When he lets go? It’s Victoria Falls. In yellow…

39 thoughts on “Lessons of old dogs

  1. Well, at least you’ve come to this realisation early enough. I know (too many) people who have continued to rail and store bile til the very end.
    Accepting what you can’t change is not always easy, but damn! it beats carrying that load.

    (Should I ask what you were doing that you missed the dog’s pit stop? ;-))

  2. Yeah, old dogs gotta go when they gotta go. And you kind of have to forgive them. Unfortunately, my mother was dead for several years before I got to the place you are with your mother. Be glad you got there now rather than later.

    • i’m also quite thankful that she lived long enough for me to get here… given her general health, medical history, and genetics, i’m amazed… and grateful!

  3. We shared out lives with a cat who was known as ‘bucket bladder’. However he used said bucket to chastise us. Talking too long on the phone? He would march down to the bathroom, pull the towels down from the towel rail and defile them. Visitors staying? First chance he got he would sneak into their room and flood their suitcase.
    And yes, I also let my mother piss me off. Big time. Only now, some years after her death am I learning to let it go. Congratulations on achieving what I should have, and didn’t. Or at least not in time.

    • This is a difference, i think, between cats and dogs! At least the dogs who have shared my home… that sort of vengence is rather remarkable! i’m just glad Mom hasn’t done that when she’s stayed with me!

      As i mentioned above, i’m also grateful that i got here while she’s still alive. Next step? Tell her…

  4. I hear that when guys get old, their bladder loses its capacity. Of course, I wouldn’t know anything about that, being so young, handsome and full of youth.

    What if mom peed on your rug? What about that scenario?

    My favorite, favorite quote is from Lincoln. “People are about as happy as they make up their mind to be.” That’s very Zen. Your mom just made up her mind to be a little cranky, that’s all. Simple.

    • i cross my legs when i sneeze. you can just shut all the way up, buddy.

      i would be fine if mom peed on the rug. i have a SpotBot.

      there’s truth in the Lincoln quote – although sometimes people are given such a dreadful run of misery that it’s pretty much impossible to be ‘happy’. mom was wired cranky. she’s always been cranky. even when she’s happy? she’s cranky. she finds joy in a different place than i do… hers is generally at the chinese restaurant all-you-can-eat buffet.

  5. What’s up with the lowercase letters? (Just wondering). It can’t be a mistake.

    I’m lucky my Mom isn’t like that, but her Mom was. Talk about a grouch, she fed on bitter cynical remarks and depressing observations, dolled out to anyone willing to listen, or not. Ever a pessimist, she jumped my ass on her deathbed for trying to change the subject to something other than her impending departure and abject misery.

    My dog – probably about the same as yours – has been bugging us a LOT to go outside lately. Even after she’s just been out, she gets in our faces the second we sit down in the living room. Does she really need to go again? I have no idea. A lot of time, I think she just wants to go out and bark at the neighbor dogs, which pisses everyone off.

    Nice story. I like how you tied the observations of your dog to your mother.

    • i’ve always been annoyed by the capitalized “I”. so i don’t do it. at least not here. the other lowercase is simply because i’m a lazy fuck, and can’t be bothered! a reminder to the reader that i’m not a writer, i’m a blogger…

      the pessimists can wear you down. misery truly loves company… and there are those who may not be miserable, but are certainly carriers! hope your pup is just screwing with you!

  6. I’m so happy that you’ve come to that place with your Mom.
    For myself, I got there with my Father about 10 years or so ago, but then when my brother was killed 8 years ago, old wounds were once again ripped open. And added to.
    It took about 5 years to get even remotely close to where I once was.
    I still have my days, but in my heart, I know he’s really doing the very best he can with what he’s got.
    And he’s still my Dad.

    • “And he’s still my Dad”. Yep. There are situations where all ties must be cut for survival. i’ve seen that. But if there’s any way to tolerate them, and maintain patience? We should try. Statistically, we’re going to out live them. Best not to have regrets…

  7. I THINK I managed to forgive my parents – mostly my mom – for all their foibles. However, I am still struggling to try to overcome the crippling low self esteem they – again, mostly my mom – managed to instill in me. Like your mom, they did the best they could which is why I can forgive them. Neither of them had particularly good childhoods, ESPECIALLY my mom. Now, if I could only FIX the results of their handiwork… How someone that’s been gone for over five years can still mess with my head just boggles my mind.

    • they can push the buttons – even from beyond the grave – because they installed them. it’s up to us to figure out how to not let it get in the way of the lives we want to live. not always an easy task. shit, i’ve been beating this stuff up for decades, and sorting it out here for five years. never occurred to me that i would actually GET there… hang in there! you are good people, cramnitram!

  8. I got to that place with my Dad before he died. What makes me sad is my Mother’s decision to be hateful and bitter about him even while staying married to him for 67 years. There is a huge disconnect for her in the two facts that 1. they actually loved each other and 2. they could not get along or communicate worth beans. Add to that my mother’s infinite capacity for holding grudges, and you have a woman who is mourning the loss of her love and partner while at the same time holding onto her anger towards him for things he did over 65 years ago.

    It took me a long time, but I have also reached the space where I realize that my parent’s relationship is THEIRS, and really not my business. MY business is the relationship I have with my Mother, and the relationship I maintain with MY husband. this is a very difficult lesson to learn, but once you do it creates a peace in oneself that is priceless.

    Another vacation? Are you sure you aren’t retired?

    • “…my Mother’s decision to be hateful and bitter”

      exactly. and there is nothing we can do to unbitter, or unhateful, them. some folks are nourished by this. aggravating to the rest of us. i take some solace in knowing that we are probably just as aggravating to them! 🙂 There is relief in letting go of these things. Life gets easier when we worry about our own shit, and let other people take on their own!

      Retired? Not quite. 40 hours/week does get in the way of a good time. Two ‘mini-trips’ coming up, and then the big one to go see The Girl in mid-summer! Can’t wait!

  9. Hmmm. This blog entry sounds like a breakthrough has been made in the world of your relationships. Does this mean the blog will be over? No, no! Say it ain’t so, Daisy!

    It would be quite difficult to find a new blogspace to hang out in. I don’t just happen along bloggers (and people) in my life who resonate so well with the understanding that we’re over-the-top fortunate to be where we are. And, especially difficult to find one who produces prose in the same way you do.

    • i actually quit blogging at the end of the “Reunion” series, only to come back when my friend died in August. Trying to sort out what i need it for – and at the moment, it’s mostly the connections to my friends out there who take the time to check in!

      So i’ll keep poking at it… maybe as a place to organize my adventures, stay connected to people i like, and hoark up those bits of ‘stuff’ that sometimes get in the way of a good time. Oh, and maintain connection to my spawnlets – who are now geographically remote from the mothership, and who still check in at the trailer park from time to time!

  10. I think there comes a time in all of our lives when we realize other people’s/pup’s business is their own, and the best we can do is accept what’s in their nature, regardless of what we think/say/do about it. Acceptance is a saner alternative than going around behind them and cleaning up their messes while they scratch their heads/asses. Profundity makes me tired, so I’m going to go lay down now.

    • agree with you – acceptance and napping. life is much easier this way! but if we can’t accept? surgical excision of that which is toxic is a reasonable plan. and another nap!

  11. I understand some of what you might be feeling. Trina’s going through the same process with her mother now, although in the latter’s case it’s because she is becoming increasingly difficult to look after because she’s losing her marbles. I feel for Trina–she needs an arm round her shoulders at the moment, and once that’s been done, a practical plan for what will happen, because otherwise Mother is going to drive her entire family nuts.

    • Dementia is an incredibly tough situation for a caregiver. My ex-husband cared for both of his parents through their final years, and his mother’s dementia was heartbreaking. hoping she can get some balance and resolution… and can keep the arm around her shoulder!

  12. There’s nothing tougher than to watch the deterioration of a loved one. I watched several (humans and fellow pets) and I worry about putting my folks through the same thing. Ohhh, and please don’t consider quitting blogging again – you’re to good at it.

    • Thanks, Sandy! Good to hear it from a canine perspective! When my pup is no longer able to get in bed with me? i’ve decided to sleep on the floor with him. Can’t see him ever figuring out a ramp, or steps!

  13. Funny, touching and thought-provoking.

    One bad damn decision after another eh? Sounds a little familiar, but then we never know about the greater nightmares other decisions might have brought.

    • What an interesting point – i wonder how bad my siblings might have mucked it up if Mom hadn’t helped? As bad as things have been, i suspect they could have been much worse! Hadn’t thought of that before…

  14. I’m glad you’ve arrived at a good place with your mom, daisyfae. When I went to the nursing home to thank my mom’s aides after she died, I was amazed at some of the tales her main caregiver told me. The two of them had a really good rapport and my mother used to say nice things to her that she wouldn’t say to me. For a while it bothered me—why couldn’t she be like with me, her daughter? But now, four months out, I’ve come to better terms with it. At least I hope I have.

    And, dog bladders! Sheesh. We had a mini-dachshund that I would walk around and around outside for 15-20 minutes with no results, and as soon as we got back into the house I would hear “whiz, whiz, whiz” on the dining room table leg. We always said he was a “vindictive pee-er” because he would retaliate that way for whatever injustice he felt he’d received. Like not enough Snausages.

    • It could be worse. Toward the end there my old dog would get up on the bed and pee. Usually right before I was ready to crawl in. Also lovely was finding it hours later, again right when I was ready to sleep.

  15. This makes me realise how lucky I am. My mum is 80 and I’ve been looking after her for the past three months and she’s great. My dad was the bitter one and he died nearly 25 years ago. I’m lucky. Well done on your acceptance. Acceptance is good. Have a great weekend. x

    • my former mother-in-law was pleasant and cheerful, despite dementia. she was always wired that way, and fortunately for those caring for her, she maintained that through to the end. good to hear that your mother is a good companion! happy weekend indeed!

  16. Wow, as a daughter it never occurred to me that my parents relationship was none of my business. I have harbored some very hard feelings about how my mom treated my dad and the rest of the family and everyone else she came in contact. When in reality I can only comment/affect my relationship with her, although the old girl has now passed on, I am more at ease with what went on, simply by what you said. (you’re good, this two times now you’ve been my blog-therapist)

    • it’s hard to separate parental relationships – especially when we are young and LIVE with them. even as a kid, i was closer to my dad, even though she was home full time and he worked a lot….i had the benefit of many hours with him in hospitals, where he told me ‘She is what she is…” and made it clear that he was good with how things had been. Might have been harder for me to get there if he hadn’t told me these things.

      i’m way behind on my blog reading – and hope to get out and catch up this weekend! saw that you had a ‘getting settled’ post up! i’ll stop by soon!

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