In 2011, when my parasitic MN/ASPD ex was still living on my couch, he decided he wanted a dog.
We already had a dog, Dexter, who was an awesome black lab mix (he lives with my daughter and her fiance now). The house I live in (and lived in then) is tiny. At the time, we had Dexter and 5 cats. Far too many animals for a two bedroom house, but these were pets I cared about, so I wasn’t too bothered by the overpopulation problem in the house.
But oh no, a dog and five cats wasn’t enough for the Parasite (which is his new name as far as I’m concerned so that’s who he’ll be from now on). No, he had to have his OWN dog, one that HE picked. I told him we had no room for another pet, and it was already too expensive feeding and taking care of the ones we had (remember, he contributed nothing financially since he refused to work so all their expenses fell on me) but he couldn’t see reason.
Instead, he whined petulantly, “But Dexter needs a playmate!”
Dexter did not need a playmate. Parasite needed some easy narcissistic supply.
A few weeks passed and Parasite gaslighted me by telling me and everyone else who would listen that “Lauren hates animals” because I put my foot down about getting a new puppy.
One day I came home from work and found Parasite slumped on the couch that had a huge valley in the center from his constant inert and hateful presence, and in his arms was a puppy. A Jack Russell puppy.
For anyone who isn’t familiar with Jack Russells, they’re a cute beagle-like breed of hunting dog but they have serious ADHD and need to be able to run as much as they want. They bark a lot and are just extremely hyper. They are difficult to train because they’re so stubborn. They may be fine for a family with kids who lives on a farm or has acres of land for the dog to run, but they are definitely NOT the kind of dog that would do well in a small apartment or house with only a smallish unfenced yard. They are not the kind of dog to have if you live in a suburban development where the neighbors are no more than 40 feet away.
I hate Jack Russells. (But I love dogs).
But it looked like we had one, at least for the moment.
I told him to take it back wherever he got it.
“Oh, but he’s so cuuuuuuuuuute! Look at him!” (said in low-register baby talk)
I roll my eyes. “Yes, he’s very cute, but we have too many pets already, and I can’t afford to feed him too.”
“Oh, he won’t be expensive to feed. Dexter needs a friend!” He shoves the the puppy up in my face. “LOOOOOOOK at him, he LOOOOOVES you. Isn’t he CUUUUUTE?”
I see red. He isn’t listening. Again. He never listens. He never cares about anyone but himself. I tell him this.
He projects and gaslights. “No, YOU’RE the one who only thinks about yourself. You don’t care about animals. You only think about YOU! You don’t care about MEEEE. I have diabetes and mental problems and a bad knee and I have to live here on your couch and don’t have my own home and it’s always too hot or cold in here and you buy crappy food and now you’re telling me I can’t have a dog who won’t be any bother to you at all.”
I stare daggers at him. I can feel the lava of BPD rage boiling in my gut. I try to stay calm. I count to ten.
“I want you to take him back.”
Maybe pleasantry might help. “Please take the puppy back.”
“No, and if you dare try to take him to the shelter, I’ll kill myself and make it look like a murder.”
The BPD volcano erupts. “YOU’RE A F&%KING ASSHOLE! TAKE THAT GODDAM DOG BACK TOMORROW, YOU STUPID FREAK!”
“What will you do if I don’t?” He’s baiting me. He has me on the spot. There’s nothing I could do or would do, and he knows it. He’s in complete control.
“Uh…I don’t know….But I’LL FIND SOMETHING!”
“You’d probably have Barnaby (he already picked a name) put to sleep,” he says, fake pouting. “You hate animals, you have no compassion or you’d let me keep him.”
I give up and leave the room, but out of the corner of my eye see Parasite holding Barnaby up to his face and telling him in that infuriating fake-masculine baby talk what a “meanie” I am.
So Barnaby stayed. For two years. I never hated a dog before, but I hated this one. He chewed everything, the furniture, the rugs, important papers, my favorite book. Once he ate an entire pack of cigarettes and vomited them up all over the chewed up and shredded rugs. He pissed and shat everywhere, up until he was a year old. Parasite kept making excuses for him such as “but he’s only a PUPPEEE!” or shifting the blame to me–“you’re so impatient!” Not only did I hate him because he was so out of control, I hated him because Parasite refused to train him and that dog represented to me everything bad about the Parasite himself. Every time I saw that dog, it reminded me of how controlled, intimidated and powerless I had become.
Barnaby barked and howled nonstop. Morning, noon and night. Once he got a taste of the great outdoors, he decided this was something he couldn’t live without, so running away for hours at a time was a weekly occurrence, and eventuall a daily occurrence.
But running away wasn’t all he did. Oh, no. If he’d run away and never returned there’d be no love lost.
But he’d run into neighbors’ backyards. He’d devour their gardens, then sit there and howl for hours. You’d go try to catch him, and the little demon would run. It was a game to him. He’d run, then sit down and look at you, waiting for you to make a move. You’d lunge after him, and he’d bound off again, then sit down and look at you, teasing you and daring you. He was too fast, I could never catch him. And Parasite wouldn’t try. It was up to me to get him to come back. And I never could.
I’d go to bed and hear him howling somewhere nearby and wonder what the hell I was going to do.
Soon the neighbors were mad at us for allowing our out of control dog to keep them up all night and ruin their yards. Animal Control was called twice. The second time, I answered the door when they came, and when they told me there’d be a fine if it happened again, I told them they were free to take him, I couldn’t handle him. But Parasite was home, and intercepted, promising he’d be good and it wouldn’t happen again. Animal Control left. Barnaby stayed.
The next night, Barnaby ran off and howled in another neighbor’s yard. Animal control came and took him away. Parasite was inconsolable at first, then his grief morphed into rage. He threatened me: “You go get that dog back tomorrow.”
“I don’t have the money.”
“You’re lying. Do it or I’ll kill myself. And make it look like you did it.”
I used my week’s entire paycheck to go retrieve Demon Dog from the shelter, leaving us without food that week (which Parasite of course complained about).
This time, Parasite actually had the presence of mind to build a makeshift fence from steel beams where Barnaby could be confined. So although he continued to chew everything in sight and bark too much (and still seemed to have problems containing his bowels) he seemed calmer in his grassy kingdom and the howling ceased.
But this didn’t last. Barnaby was smart. One night Barnaby dug his way out from under the pen and I heard the distant howling.
I couldn’t do this anymore. I remembered Parasite’s threat. But sometimes frustration or anger can override fear, and I reasoned that it was probably an empty threat anyway, since he rarely had followed through on any of his past threats.
I was going to place an ad on Craigslist.
But Parasite had an announcement of his own.
“I don’t want Barnaby anymore,” he said.
I just stared at him stupidly.
A week later Barnaby went to live with a family that answered our ad on Craigslist. The man who came to get him said he had five acres of land and 4 kids, and they’d always wanted a Jack Russell.