I Am Not Sure if I Would Have a Cat if I Knew It Would Grow to Be Over 55lbs.


A while back I wrote about my adventures in dog-sitting. In that post, I mentioned how I had never had a dog, and how, once-upon-a-time, big dogs even scared me a little. It now looks like I have signed myself up for a life-long version of immersion therapy.

Meet “Lina”.

Mrs Dog Dobalina

This is a false representation. She is rarely, if ever, this still.

Her full name is Mrs. Dog Dobalina, in homage to The Monkees’ song, “Zilch” (although my fiancé chooses to reference “Mistadobalina” by Del Tha Funkee Homosapian, which is clearly a homage to the ORIGINAL “Zilch” song- but whatever.) She is a Belgian Malinios, a breed very similar to the German Shepherd, but slightly is smaller in her final form. At this point she is 18wks and the heavy side of 30lbs. I have nicknamed her “Tank”, as her best descriptor would be “incredibly solid and oblivious to objects around her”. This includes people, furniture, cabinetry, walls, doors, the cats- pretty much anything in general. She bounces and shakes off the impact like it was nothing. Luckily walls do not bruise, and the cats are pretty good at holding their own.

Man Down

He didn’t stand a chance against “The Tank”.

Things that I have learned about having a puppy so far:

  1. They have to go to the bathroom- A LOT. And sometimes even they don’t realize that they need to go until the moment they do (on the oriental rug).
  2. You realize how much attachment you have for material things based on your reaction to the puppy chewing on it. (But I LOVED that toy that I don’t even remember where it came from or when the last time was that I even acknowledged its existence!)
  3. No matter how many toys she has within her reach, if you are not playing with her, she is BORED.
  4. It is rarely a good sign if she is Too Quiet (see #1)
  5. Similar to children and cats, the most favorite toy is often the packaging of something else.

    Box o Lina

    Yep- This is my dog, Folks.

  6. Dog farts are horrible, which can be good a good thing, as I have already adopted the practice of blaming any and all farts on the dog. So far, she has been OK with this.
  7. Awkward puppies are pretty much the best thing ever. Exhausted puppies are just below that.
  8. If you have a smart puppy, there is a very high chance that you also have a very (very) stubborn puppy.
  9. Puppy teeth are some of the sharpest objects on earth.
  10. If it is dead and decaying, a puppy will find it and try to eat it, or roll in it. Same thing goes for all poop. (Lina is becoming a connoisseur in that area. Currently she prefers duck and deer poop, but she will branch out as the situation dictates.)

The whole “training” thing has been an interesting process, as my cats more trained me than the other way around. First, I’ve had to butcher learn commands in a completely different language, as you wouldn’t want some stranger to be able to tell your dog to “roll-over” at the drop of a hat, would you? (Of course not. Those are family tricks!) Second, I’ve been trying to learn how to be the “alpha-dog” to her. I now have more empathy for parents with toddlers who are learning to push their boundaries. “If you didn’t see me do it, then you don’t KNOW that I did it, right?” (Cue the puppy-dog eyes, which, by the way, STILL do not work on me, so tough luck there, Lina.)

Puppy Dog Eyes

No matter how many versions she tries, I refuse to melt (usually).

I know that she has learned (and grown!) so much in the 6 weeks that we have had her, so I have to remind myself that despite of all her progress she is still a very energetic and distracted puppy. One whose first reaction is to give puppy kisses, and want you to play tug-of-war and get belly rubs, and contort herself in funny ways when she outruns the ball.

Tuckered out

There are occasions where I question if she actually has all her bones.

As long as she understands that I will always take the cat’s side, then I think we will get along OK.

What Happens When Your Crisis Response Creates a Worse Crisis?


On the occasion, I come across something in the news that really grinds my gears so much that I have to set it aside to process it (lest a spouting rage-monster appear in my place). In this particular instance, it is the report of this horrific incident from the beginning of January.

The basic story begins, as many of us in the acute mental health profession are very familiar: A family member asking for assistance because their child is presenting as a danger to themselves or to others. In this case, an 18-year-old male having a schizophrenic episode, threatening his mother (by some reports, with a screwdriver). The family did what I, and many of my fellow therapists, have recommended to families in similar events; they called the police to help them get their son to a safe environment so that mental health professionals could help stabilize him. Perhaps this was a routine that the family was familiar with. Maybe they had called a crisis line, and had received a similar recommendation. I don’t know the details of why they ultimately decided to call the police that day. But of all the innumerable times that I have made this recommendation to families, I have never imagined that any of those cases would ever turn out the way that it did for this family.

The police shot him. Wait- First they tased him and pinned him to the ground. THEN one of the officers shot him. The officer was quoted by the above news medias as, “ We don’t have time for this,” before shooting the 5’5” (and under 100lbs) high school senior.

Here is the kicker- according to the above reports, the first officers on the scene had managed to de-escalate the situation. So why didn’t the story get to end there? What, if any, was the difference in the mental health training that the first officers had received verses the second responding officers? Better yet, was there any mental health training to begin with, and how could it have prevented this deadly outcome?

I don’t think that this tragedy will keep crisis workers or family from contacting the police when a family member is a danger to others or themselves. But, perhaps having crisis prevention teams who are connected with the local mental health centers, assisting to police in these types of calls would help; or at least some further de-escalation training for the force. But unless something changes, I would be hesitant to make that all-familiar recommendation to families again.

As for the officer who pulled the trigger in a claim of self-defense, he is due back in court in April.