This past month with Marshall has been anything but rewarding. I suppose it was my hope that progression would be the ‘modus-apparendi’ as he’s made such strides in the past seven months. I should have anticipated that there would be times of frustration, but of course, my hopes were high.
For the past two months Marshall exchanged his penchant for eating poo with dirt. Why? I’m uncertain, but medically speaking he isn’t lacking any nutrients and he’s a good weight, in fact about a pound too heavy for his arthritic feet, hips and back. He’s now eating poo once again, along with dirt. I pick up the yard at least four times a day and now have to monitor his time outdoors and shoo him away from any dirt he finds. Rather than delight in his cavorting through the lawn, it’s become a burdensome chore.
Marshall has also reverted back to peeing and pooping in both his crates rather than outside – something he hasn’t done since the first month he came to join our family. Suffice it to say, this beautiful sunny and warm Sunday morning was slightly marred with the fact that as I came out of the bedroom with Sharkey and Charm the smell of dog poo permeated the entire house. I was NOT a happy camper. Since mill dogs live in their own waste every single day this is something that doesn’t appear to upset Marshall at all. Sharkey and Charm however make a wide berth around him and around his crate, ears flat, obviously distressed at this turn of events. They know what is acceptable behavior – but how to impress this upon little Marshall will be a challenge at best.
Interestingly enough, he manages to keep himself clean by going to great lengths to cover up the deed. He rearranges the bedding in the crates so that he doesn’t sit in it…until this morning.
As I took the once white little Jack outside I knew that my usual Sunday routine would have to wait until I cleaned and hosed out the crate, hosed down the bedding and put it in the washer. Then somehow I would have to get Marshall in the washtub with some warm water and dog shampoo. I resented it – all of it. I’d had to clean his kennel three times already this week. Why couldn’t my Sunday morning just be peaceful?
I filled the washtub and went outside for Marshall. He came tearing over to the door, past my legs and blew into his crate with such happy abandon that it was difficult to be angry. Still grumbling about my Sunday morning I fished him out, took him to the laundry room and put a now flailing Marshall into the tub. He was NOT happy about it. But after about five minutes in the warm water he seemed to relax and wasn’t at all afraid of the nice dry towel in which I wrapped his shivering little body.
I have a special needs dog. He may never be the happy well-adjusted dog my other two are. So is what Marshall is today all he can achieve? Are we just hovering on a plateau? Is that next step towards being a more active participant in our family just around the corner or is this all it will be for him? And if so, can I be happy with that? He seems OK with it, shouldn’t I be?