Oscar (L) & Sherman (R)

Oscar (L) & Sherman (R)
The boys, happy and healthy.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Saying Goodbye to a Friend, Part II

John was not the only one to make mistakes where Sherman was concerned, so now it's time I take my own lumps.  I was in charge of getting Sherman to walk on a leash.  Before I delve into that debacle, let's talk for a moment about the Boxer breed.  Boxers do love to please their owners and there is really nothing more heartbreaking than the look on a Boxers face when they have disappointed.  But there is a caveat to this truth:  a Boxer needs to believe that what you are asking of them is something they actually want to do.  It must be reasonable to them. In the words of my best friend Donna who also knows this to be true, a Boxer will not be "your monkey."  Leave that to the birding group or the toys, but not Boxers.

Sherman would NOT walk on a leash.  Would NOT.  I would hook on his leash, set him down on the sidewalk and on went the brakes.  At the time, we were living in a heavily populated area and here I was with a dog on a leash who wasn't going to go.  I would pick up sticks in the yard and tap them in front of Sherman.  He'd step forward because getting the stick did seem like a good idea to him, but he was no fool: there was still the leash and he wasn't going.  This was so aggravating to me.  I tried day, after day and used different tactics and really got nowhere.  My frustration level was pegged.  One afternoon in a battle of wills, I spanked him.  I feel horrible about it still.  He wriggled and chomped into my hand with those needle-like puppy teeth and it was a scene.   I had to unhook his teeth from my hand, I wasn't terribly hurt or anything, but this was a bad moment.

We got sorted out and he eventually got the drill that the leash wasn't a bad thing at all and usually led to a run (free of a leash!) in the cemetery.  I had always tried to train Sherman with the mindset that I was working with a complex creature who understood simply right and wrong, positive and negative, yes and no.  Often times, humans make the mistake of thinking that their pet has reasoning skills where their emotions are seated.  They try to impart human emotions onto their pets, usually for their own gratification.  I never did that, but I lost my cool that afternoon and my behavior has always stuck with me.  The next time I train a dog, I will take a breather before it goes down that rabbit hole.

Sherman really did turn into a wonderful adult dog and was well liked even by folks that weren't big fans of pets.  That has always made me feel good, like there was at least one thing that I was good at.  When Sherman was two, my relationship with my husband dissolved.  That had been coming long before Sherman was a part of our lives.  I moved out of our home and into an apartment very close by that allowed dogs so that Sherman could be with each of us part-time.  It worked for awhile.  Each of us would have Sherman for three or four days at a time and then switch off.  We shared vet bills for Sherman and his general care was split.  What I didn't know was that my ex-husband wasn't devoting as much time to Sherman as I did when I had him.  I wrapped my schedule around Sherman to make his life as good as possible.  Sometimes it was exhausting.

One day at work, I received an email from my ex-husband.  It was an epically written letter informing me that he was ready to start his life over in Florida.  That he intended on taking Sherman.  That in Florida, he would have the kind of support system he needed to give Sherman the life that he had been unable to provide currently.  I was at work and needed to behave in a professional manner, I stood up went to the ladies' room and sobbed.  Divorce, no matter who or what was the culprit is about loss and for me, this was the final straw.  I could not lose Sherman.

I went after my ex-husband with the big guns.  I started gradually of course.  I wrote him back and informed him that, while I was excited for him and his new beginning, his new beginning should not deprive me of my dog.  If he was choosing to move, he was choosing to be out of Sherman's life.  Dear Reader, this went over like a lead balloon.  My ex-husband, as you now know, is a spoiled brat who must get his own way at any cost.  I pointed his own words back at him and reminded him that while he had not been giving Sherman the life he wanted to up until now, I HAD.  We warred.  Eventually, I threatened my ex-husband with re-opening the divorce proceedings.  Meaning that, he could either give me Sherman or stand to lose half of his money, which was sizable.  When I left the marriage, I chose to take with me, monetarily or otherwise, only that with which I came to the marriage.  He was rid of me and didn't have to give me any money.  It's what I wanted.  I didn't want him to think I was trying to take his precious money from him, so this threat had to have scared him shitless.  I got what I wanted:  Sherman was mine.  Permanently.

1 comment:

sparky said...

sherman, john, your hand.....it all comes down to pavlov

and i have complete 'custody' of my three sons since the x reneged on her share of the responsibility

hey, and if ya want some obscene pics.....talk about a humongous clutter! i've got oscar madison beat

Sherman at Christmas 2007

Sherman at Christmas 2007
Feeling the love with Auntie Donna

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