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Providing non-judgmental and non-criticizing support for family and friends of end-stage alcoholics through one-on-one coaching, support groups, blog posts, workshops and public speaking.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Flea-like expectations...

I’m so frustrated this morning I could just scream. In fact, I think I did. My unrealistic expectations of Riley bites me on the butt. And it seems that I do that quite often. It’s like a flea that I can’t get rid of. If I don’t stop those expectations, the frustrations will just keep multiplying like the fleas that live on my pets.

Two years ago, Riley became insistent that I get him a dog. His dog of choice was a Mastiff. Of course, I said no, but what about a smaller dog – like a Cocker Spaniel or Beagle? He said those were too small.

It just so happened that our grandson had gotten a dog for his daughter. She was a mix of Springer Spaniel and Chesapeake Retriever. Jade was just an active little puppy. She ate every shoe in my grandson’s house and seemed to refuse to be house-trained. He was talking about giving her to his friend in the country where she would have room to burn off all that energy. Uhhh… did I mention she was ACTIVE.

I was convinced that this sweet little puppy just was in need of consistent training in a household where everyone didn’t leave her alone all day long. So… I said… sure, I’ll take her for Riley. She would never be as big as a Mastiff, but she was definitely larger than a Beagle. After some discussion with Riley, the decision was made – Riley would be Jade’s new master.

When we moved to the country, Jade really blossomed into a sweet dog. I can now open the door and let her run. No electronic fence needed, just acres and acres of land for her to bounce around in and chase the little critters. Along with the acres of land and freedom to run was a big, black flea and tick infestation. I tried everything I knew to do, but between the dog and the cat I wasn’t making a dent in the flea life cycle. It was getting to the point where fleas were even invading the rooms where the animals do not go. Just sitting in the den would leave you with little red marks where flease have feasted on yummy warm human blood. I think the Frontline was just over-tasked and could not keep up.

Jade was constantly scratching and biting at herself. Riley would look at her and say, “I don’t know why she is doing that?” REALLY!?! Riley insisted he had not seen a flea on her, so he knew it wasn’t because of fleas because she didn’t have any. I am still amazed by that statement. Jade is a black dog and it’s hard to see the fleas, but just because I don’t seem them scurrying around doesn’t mean they aren’t there. If I believed Riley, then we must have the only dog in rural North Carolina that doesn’t have fleas.

I did what any responsible pet owner does… I found out how to reduce the flea population in our house and on our property. I figured that I can’t control the farming fields around us, but I can at least work on my yard and house. I consulted with our veterinarian and got the low down on what to do.

First, cut the grass extremely short and treat the yard with a spray. I told Riley… I’m going out to spray the grass. Can you come out and help? He gave me a deep sigh that could only be recognized as one of irritation and said he would. So I prodded out and got everything ready, thinking he would be out in just a minute. So I started without him. The hose is heavy and dragging it back and forth around the bushes, having to backtrack to get around the cars – well – for my 62 year old overweight body… It was exhausting.

I finished the backyard and before starting the front yard… I called to Riley at his open bedroom window. I could see him sitting at his computer, but he did not respond. I continued my quest to finish our one-acre yard. Finally, as I’m finishing up the last small corner, he appeared. I guess you could say he helped because he coiled the hose at the front porch so it would be ready for me to repeat the task in two weeks.

I gave both animals a Capstar pill and proceeded to treat the house. I sprayed the carpeted rooms with the spray recommended by the vet. Riley was to treat his own room. Every bit of fabric that the animals ever used as a sleeping pad was washed. Today, I bathed Jade with special aloe and oatmeal soap to help with her itchy skin. I also gave her a Sentinel tablet and applied Advantix. Jax Cat will also get Advantix today.

Riley has still not finished his room. Jade sleeps in his room on Riley’s bed. He claims he’s not in a hurry because the animals really do not have fleas. He doesn’t understand why I’m going to to so much trouble when there really isn’t a problem. He wishes I would just stop telling me to take care of Jade and leave him to care for HIS dog his way.

Oh…. So what WAY would that be?? Never a bath?? Never a flea treatment?? Never a vaccination?? Never getting her spayed?? Never taking her outside and throwing her a ball? Always feeding her unhealthy people food? Just exactly what does dog ownership mean to Riley? I truly don’t understand.

It all goes back to me having unrealistic expectations when it comes to Riley. I seem to always fall into the trap of believing that he can and will do what he says. But, in reality, he cannot and I should not expect that he will.

Dr. Phil says the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. I whole-heartedly believe this is true. So I need to stop believing he will do anything, drunk or sober, any differently than the way he has done things in the past. And my past behavior of having unrealistic expectations has to stop. It need to put a Capstar on that expectation flea.


Syd said...

I realize that it is best for me to keep my expectations of others low. I generally am not disappointed.

BuddyT said...

Linda, plant a Wax Mrytle tree in your yard. You will never have fleas again. They can't stand the scent.

Jennifer said...

Don't we all do that -- believe we can expect normal consistency when an adult takes on a long-term project like taking care of a pet? That's reasonable. Then, we remember the abnormal inconsistency we know of our alcohlics and laugh, cry or scream that we tricked ourselves into thinking they could be logical for an extended period of time.

Karen E. said...

keeping expectations low is definetly the key!...no expectations what so ever is how we are dealing at the present. Every day the scenario can change. My mother stays in her room drinking 24/7 as of late..eats what we bring to her. Thinks since her arm is broken thats all she can do. In her room works for us, at least she is not falling and getting into mischief. Or irritating anyone too much! Not sure how she can even stand up or even attempt anything with the amounts of vodka she is drinking..I would be sick, throwing up and near death I believe.... good luck to us all.

Have Myelin? said...

I'm on Team Syd. Low expectations are more realistic. And if I'm surprised, I'm pleasantly surprised... not thrilled to death or anything like that.

P.S. Good luck with the flea problem!