I talk about Gatsby a lot, in the same fashion I imagine, that a parent talks about their child. I largely talk about what a good-looking asshole he is, hence the nickname Biff. People think I’m exaggerating about what a dick he is to other dogs, but I promise, I’m not. As we near departure for the sequel to our maiden voyage, I just hope, since this trip will include a venture to our old stomping grounds in Rhode Island, that he remembers his best friend, Captain Ruggles, and will be able to enjoy some playdates with him instead of me and my friend Sue breaking up dogfights.
But that’s not what this post is actually about.
He’s always been an anxious mess (guess he takes after me), but he’s added some new techniques to his repertoire over the last couple months. It all started in late July when we were midway through our first trek. The daytime setup in Hecate is that I put two blankets on top of my bed for Gatsby to luxuriate on while we are in motion. He is allowed on the bed during the day, and then at night, I’d move his blankets to the floor and he’d sleep there.
This routine worked well for us for several weeks, until one night, Gatsby started nosing his blankets into the shower stall. Now, this might sound innocent enough, but let me just tell you that any time the boy does anything in the van, that baby rocks and rolls. From the outside, it probably looks like I’m having a really good time.
It wasn’t enough for him to just was both of his blankies up in the stall, he would keep nosing them. And nosing them. And nosing them. Like he was possessed. And he started doing this night after night. To the point that he had rubbed his poor little nose raw, and pushed my sanity to the brink. Let me tell you, I require 7 hours of sleep just to maintain function; 8 hours for decency in personality; 9 is preferable to get me to something resembling an agreeable disposition. So multiple nights in a row of sleep deprivation (because he’d wake me up every 20 minutes, and I’d have to physically get up to get him to lay back down. I’d just start nodding off and he’d start that bullshit all over again) was giving me flashbacks to Boot Camp, when I was so fucking tired every day (this was back in the day when sleeping hours were from 2200-0400 to start, and then add in that I was Master At Arms (MAA), so I had to stand 2-hour night watches, cutting into my sleep every second or third night. Side note on this: I was so continually sleep deprived during boot camp that I managed to fall asleep more than once while standing up during class. I would spend every Sunday morning (the only bit of free time that we had) while some recruits would go to church, I would continually ‘make my rack,’ meaning I laid my ass on the hard floor, tucked my arms under the mattress so if a Recruit Division Commander (RDC) happened to walk in it would look like I was actively doing something, and saw logs for the duration, pins and needles in my hands and arms be damned. I also spent ample time whenever I could, in the laundry holding room, napping on bags of dirty laundry. I didn’t give a FUCK. I would have done damn near anything to catch an extra 20 seconds of sleep. This all went on until right before Battle Stations in the last week of Boot Camp, when my RDC caught me napping in said laundry room and I got fired as MAA. Honestly, I was so fucking tired by then, I couldn’t get it up to care even a smidgeon. And any doctor or scientist or whoever that says you ‘adjust’ and you don’t need to necessarily ‘catch up’ on sleep after deprivation has lost their damn mind. During Liberty Weekend, ALL I did was sleep. And then for the first at least month that I was stationed at the Defense Language Institute, all I did (and I mean ALL) weekend long, was sleep.) Anyway, the point I’m trying to make here is that after several days of Gatsby’s nocturnal activities, not to mention that my sleep schedule was disrupted in general because of nightly jukebox parties at the golf course, I was a crabby mess.
I thought there might be something on the blankets that he found disagreeable, so I laundered them, to no avail. Then I thought there might be something in the shower stall that was offensive to him, so I scoured the bathroom. No luck. After even an exorcism didn’t have any effect, when we were up in Sault Ste Marie, I found myself a pet store to get his ass a dog bed, figuring he was about to lose (also, since we’re into football season, here’s your friendly reminder that it’s lose, not loose) blanket privileges. Surely he couldn’t/wouldn’t want to nose a nice fluffy bed into the shower.
What I discovered is that 1. Dog beds are stupidly expensive, and 2. Fix that neurosis, and another will pop up. After seeing the Pet Supply Warehouse wanted me to fork over something in the three-figure realm for a forking dog bed, I went to TJMaxx to buy the same thing for 1/3 the price. Indeed, this did solve the nosing problem (although I still have to completely remove the blankets from his presence at night, because even if they’re folded up under his bed like he’s the Princess and the Pea, he’ll still dislodge them and move them to the shower). I don’t know. Sometimes I wish he could tell me what the fuck is wrong with him, but also, I’m extremely glad he can’t talk, because he’d likely drive me insane.
So we resolved that issue, his nose healed, and then he found a new way to bug the shit out of me. Last weekend, we went down to Craryville, NY to be able to visit with my Wells family (they’re Wells weekenders, and I had guests that first weekend back home, so if I wanted to spend time with them, it would have to be on their weekday turf). So Gatsby and I went to visit on Thursday. Friday, which happened to be the babe’s 4th birthday, we meandered up to a delightful vineyard, and then we overnighted on Saturday at a very overpriced nearby farm, which is when Gatsby’s new form of bullshit started. For the whole three months on the road, he was such a good passenger, hauling his giant ass up onto the bed and peacefully surveying the scene as it rolled by. Then all of a sudden last Saturday, he started giving himself permission to get off the bed while Hecate was in motion. Now, he is, in general, attached to my ass at all times….touching is preferable (which is fine with me since that's my primary love language, so I get it), but he’s generally independent enough to be by himself back on the bed, especially since I’m still in the line of sight back there. The first time he did it, I thought he might be about to throw up (he did have some vanilla ice cream for birthday breakfast, which usually digests nicely, but better safe than having a bed-full of doggie vomit), so I pulled over quickly and took him out. No puking, but he did drop a deuce, so I thought surely that was the issue, and now it was resolved. That was not the issue, and it was not resolved. Both Saturday and Sunday, the drives weren’t more than an hour each time, and I could NOT keep that dog’s ass on the bed! It was distracting (and we all know that Safety is my freaking middle name), and infuriating.
I am cautious about his wellbeing after an incident that happened last December…..my friend Shannon and her daughter had been visiting us up at Anchors Aweigh (my other VT house that I’ve since sold), and we’d gone into town for provisions. Now, while Gatsby’s Getaway couldn’t be considered anything but rural, Anchors was in the STICKS, so going to town for anything was 20 minutes just for a teensy store. At this point, Hecate was just a dream, and I only had my Subaru Crosstrek, which was outfitted for me and a dog, not me and a friend and her daughter, so we’d opted to take Shannon’s mini-van. Since there was plenty of room for G, and he hates being left out, we piled him in the back and took off for town. We were about 15 minutes into the drive, when I caught a glimpse of him out of the corner of my eye. He was like a drunken sailor trying to make his way from the back up to the seat I was in, and when I say he was having a panic attack, that’s putting it mildly. He was so panicked and upset and panting, that I was legitimately worried that he was about to have a heart attack and die. We pulled over, and Shannon left me to go get the groceries while I walked Gatsby around and tried to calm him down. He had finally settled down enough that we could get him back in the van to get home, but he was still shaking so much, that I had to kind of cram him in between the captain’s chairs in the van and then lay on top of him like I was a human weighted blanket or a Temple Grandin hugging machine. He spent the rest of the day throwing up. Since that incident, I’ve been very cognizant of his comfort in both new places (I think the issue that day was that he was thrown into this new location that he didn’t know, it was way more cavernous than his Subaru doggie hammock, and didn’t really have a good visual on me) and while passenging. I’d actually delayed the start of our summer road trip to make sure that we had enough time to get him adjusted to being in Hecate. Luckily, he didn’t need any adjustment to her (he was the first one in when I opened the slider for the first time, and never showed any hesitation riding around, especially when he was allowed to ride on the bed….realistically, I was the one who needed the adjustment period).
Anyway, that is always in the back of my mind, so I am extra patient regarding these things. I’m pretty patient in general, but I do have my limits. And those limits have been challenged greatly in every journey we’ve had in the van since Saturday. He’s up; he’s down; he’s up; he’s down; he’s up……well, you get the picture. Yesterday I spent the day in Glens Falls running errands, getting some inches chopped off my hair (on an aside, why is it always so freaking hard to find a stylist in a new location?! On the bright side, third time’s the charm, and I had a really great experience (so did Gatsby - he was welcomed inside and enjoyed both playing with a stuffed monkey and getting loveydoves) with Tommy at The Awesome Hair Lab. Go see him if you’re in Glens Falls and need someone to touch up your coiffure), and at rehearsal for an upcoming production of Radium Girls. He spent the day hopping off the bed and hopping back on the bed.
I don’t know what the fuck, but I hope he gets it together prior to our departure for voyage number 2. He’s got two weeks from yesterday. If anyone has any suggestions, please send them my way. Doggie CBD only goes so far. In the meantime, please send me sanity-saving vibes. Until then, my friends, cheerio!