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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.

Friday, January 6, 2012

It's a dog's life...

My daughter, Alea, celebrated her birthday this week and she choose to celebrate by spending a few days out here in the country. We went to one of my favorite restaurants and she ordered their scrumptious lobster ravioli. I had a combo plate of crab cakes, scallops, shrimp and oysters. The plan was to eat off each others plate – something we almost always do.

I knew I wouldn’t want to cook when we got back home, so I ordered up a plate of lobster ravioli and some calamari for Riley. He had been consistently bugging me for seafood and I thought this was a good way to satisfy his taste buds.

When we got back home, I fixed him a plate that contained a combination of his order mixed with what was in my “doggie box.” I looked at the plate and thought – “Damn that looks good!” I knew he was going to love it.

I presented the plate to him and placed it on his chair side TV tray. I added a salad and a fresh drink. He was set. I asked if there was anything else he wanted or needed. He told me it looked wonderful and there was nothing else he needed.

Alea and I settled into the sofas in the living room and started watching a movie. It had just begun when I went to the kitchen to get something. As I passed by Riley’s chair, I noticed his plate was licked absolutely, shiny clean. That’s unusual because he only eats a couple of bites at a time and leaves the rest for his many ventures to the kitchen in the middle of the night. Normally, I get up in the morning to find his dinner plate on the counter almost as it was when I first prepared it -- except in the morning it will have a roach or two crawling around on it. (The roach problem is still not totally resolved.) He picks at it through the day in spite of the bugs.

“How many ravioli did you actually eat?” I asked.

“A few,” he replied. “But I had some help.”

“So did you let Jade eat your dinner?”

“Well… she wanted it.” Riley remarked.

I wish I were Jade. It seems that Jade should have anything she wants. So if I were Jade, I would have fresh live Maine whole stuffed lobster at least twice a week. There would be huge stuffed baked potatoes, fresh asparagus with hollandaise, deep fried artichoke hearts with a garlic mayo, clams casino and oysters Rockefeller. Let’s throw in there a really good mocha mousse. I would have to let Riley have a couple bites – but essentially the meal would be mine alone. It’s a rough life for a dog named Jade.

The next day, I became aware that Jade has become Riley’s master. She barks at her food dish and he refills it. She scratches at the door and he gets up to let her out. After just a few minutes, she barks at the back door and Riley lets her in. When she drops a ball at his feet and he throws it down the hall. She rolls on her back and he reaches down to scratch her tummy. When he takes a nap, she crawls onto the bed next to him. The cycle is repeated more than a dozen times during the day. There are no specific times for feeding or anything else for that matter. It’s just on Jade’s whim. Riley’s life is subservient to Jade.

My Jax, the Max Catx, on the other hand has a routine. If it isn’t cold, he stays out all night and comes to my bedroom when he sees I’ve turned on my bedside lamp. Then I let him in through the window as I’m on my way to the bathroom. Jax follows me to the laundry room just off my office, jumps up on the dryer and meows while looking at the cupboard that holds his food cans. I open a can and transfer the contents to his bowl. When he’s done eating, he lies just inside my office door and takes a bath while I go to work on my computer. He usually wants to go out again just before I have lunch, but he doesn’t stay out very long. So by the time I’m done fixing my plate – he wants back in and I oblige him entry. I don’t really hear from him again until close to dinner time when he wants two things – to be fed and let outside. He doesn’t require a lot of attention and he has very few needs. Unlike Jade, he manages just fine on his own. My relationship with Jax is more of a compatible partnership.

I do love Jade – really – I do. But, I already have a person who depends on me for every single aspect of his life. I worry about what I will do about Jade when Riley is gone. I don’t want to devote the time to her that Riley does. But then, I don’t want to give her to someone else because I fear they will not take her to the groomers or buy her the best food or let her sleep inside at night.

It is unfortunate that Jade may have to learn a whole new way of life when Riley departs for alcohol heaven. But, I know that to keep her in my life, she will need to learn manners that, so far, she has been able to avoid.

After having written my post about “My name is Jade…” I have been far more understanding and compassionate with her. I’m not as quick to scold and for the most part have essentially backed off from trying to get her to be a “good girl.” But there will come a time when she will have to abide by my rules. There should be an “or else” in there – but I’m not sure what it is.

In the meantime, I just have to learn to accept that Riley has no qualms about feeding her a more than $20 plate of seafood whenever it’s available. After all, it was his food and his choice. That makes it his loss.

As for me and Alea – we can’t wait to get back to that restaurant for more lobster!


Syd said...

Jade has it good. Sadly, dogs can get pancreatitis from eating human food. You may want to share that human food could impair her health. It sounds as if Riley loves her a lot. Hopefully, he will love her enough to quit feeding the table scraps.

Syd said...

Here is a link about the dangers of feeding table scraps:
There are many other articles on line about this.

The Immortal Alcoholic's Wife said...

I will pass the link on to Riley. Unfortunately, his memory will not hold onto the info for long. I have talked to him, the kids, the vet, his brother -- he says OK and then the next day he will give Jade a piece of chocolate. It infuriates me!!

Gerry said...

An immortal alcoholic, Doc, (my companion) after I read to him what was on the computer screen called 'a dog's life..." said, "Woof, woof! I picked up my collar and leash and decided to leave but he made me write this as I am his slave and loving it (Not!)" I have been telling him this morning that I grew up where women were slaves. Their job was to have 10 to 15 children, and to cook, clean and bottle food for winter. As a child I began to think how I could rebell against slavery, while still having only the amount of children I could handle with chronic fatigue syndrome brought on by the extreme stress of having an alcoholic father. My mother never left my alcoholic father because she was a reluctant employee who could not stand to be bossed by anyone else. If she stayed with my father who drank, partied and was unfaithful to her in ways she could not seem to imagine, but I could and did perceive this, she could play around in her country store and hit him up for the money if she got behind in her bills. She could close this store any time she wanted to and go to the races with the alcoholic she had grown to hate with a purple passion.
Oh Linda, your blog calls up such bad memories of life with alcoholics from birth. I married two alcoholics and left them both. My companion, Doc, has been an alcoholic the whole five years we have associated. I am 80, he is 74. I strive to leave him at times, but I return for many reasons. Just today I told him that I am still somewhat enslaved to a man who thought no better of himself or a sober woman than to give her the gift of his constant drinking. In a HUD complex where I have lived since becoming disabled with chronic fatigue, alcoholism is I would say epidemic. I have seen many alcoholics die in here. This is still a heavily drinking society, which I have learned to accept, and I continue to do my work to try to sober the best thinkers up. My last companion, alcoholic and also a 'heavy smoker' died of lung cancer after 3 years. Doc will probably die before I do of alcholism. So the world ends 'not with a bang but a whimper'! (T.S. Elliot).

ADDY said...

Wow - a life of luxury. That dog should wear a tiara!

Alice said...

dear Linda,

a very spoilt dog! i started to have a think about "Alcoholic Heaven", btw. I guess RIley's would be a place where beer or vodka flowed like water... I'm an alcoholic too, but as someone who is in recovery, I can honestly say my heaven would be entirely alcohol free! I still struggle, and there are days when I think how lovely it was if suddenly alcohol mysteriously ceased to exist (other than the fact it would make a lot of practising alcoholics very sick to go into such a sudden detox). A world with no temptation would be great. A world where I can drink as much as I want whenever I want with no consequences is something I don't actually want any more. It's interesting to think about. Best wishes.

jo said...

again, and i know your tired of hearing and this...is EXACTLY what mine does with the yorkie.

and the vet already said his smoking and weight is killing her. she is only 4.

pancreatitis, yes. fatal and very expensive. chocolate is poison for dogs...literally. lucky jade is big...imagine with my 5 lb yorkie?

exactly the same. the dog gets all his love..and attention and it is killing her.

so sad. and i wonder that also...life will change so much when they pass on to the keg in the sky. they also will be healthier and we will have to reteach them everything.


God, they are so alike in so many ways. unreal. idiots.

nothing sinks in. nothing. "you are burning the food" "no, it isnt" "what happened to the food?" "you burned it" "i did?" later the next day.."you are burning the food...." i give up unless it gets to a wall...

and yes, mine has set about half of the house things on fire so far. mattress,,,counter,,,pots...couch...chair...carpet (till i pulled it up)

linda, get the roach bait. i think a pest control will sell it. it is in a tube..a gel...stick it around. great stuff. i have them too, and rats,,or did. now we have ants, still.

The Immortal Alcoholic's Wife said...

Jo -- The roaches are down by about 70%. I refused to resign the lease if the landlord would not step up and help with the extermination. They agreed that it had been their responsibility and had no idea how bad it really was. We have a regular service and I expect the buggies may be totally gone by the time the lease expires again.

jo said...

i hope so...but its so hard to keep a place clean with them around.

didnt know you were renting...then it def isnt your prob!

last night mine took 1 towel to the washer. i said what? he said it was his and he used it for 2 days and it was dirty. i had washed 2 days ago. wish he coulda took all the laundry out..lol..but just his 1 towel.

lol. geeez i bleach everything as it is. and myself. lol.

i hate to see them do this to the dogs, tho. we sure have no vet money. but nothing sinks in.

Eli said...

Riley is her servant because Jade loves him unconditionally and has always "been there", minus judgement, no matter what. Riley doesn't have to worry about what Jade is really thinking but not "saying" to herself or out loud. I am not a dog-whisperer. I'm a sober, alocoholic child of an end-stager. Perhaps the behavior is inherited along with the alcoholic gene.

Anyway, on the plus side Linda, if you've not spoiled Jade in the same manner as Riley has, I doubt that she will expect that behavior out of you when Riley is gone. I think that Jade will adhere to your routine as long as you keep it the same as it was with Riley around.