The Urban Erma by Leighann Lord: I Need a Thundershirt
My dog and I look alike. We’re both black with a little bit of grey. Recently describing His Lordship to someone I was stunned to realize just how similar we also are in temperament. I said, “I love him but he’s spoiled, cranky, moody, entitled … wait, what? Oh damn.”
His Lordship is also nuts. He goes through extended periods of high anxiety that are painful to watch and endure. He paces incessantly, scratches at the door, tears up my rugs, and glares at me with an air of perpetual righteous indignation that borders on being British. No amount of walking outside, running in the yard, milk bones, or tummy rubs alleviates these episodes. It just has to run its course until he wears himself out. We have a name for this. We call it The Full Tilt Bozo.
We don’t exactly know what triggers The Full Tilt Bozo. Like most dogs, he gets a little nutty when there’s a thunderstorm. He also spazs out at the first sign of a German Sheppard. His Lordship can’t abide the breed. Well, to be honest he doesn’t care for other dogs in general. He’s a tad antisocial and seems to be deeply offended by the whole butt sniffing thing. (Oh my god, will the similaries between us never end?)
Whenever I pick him up from day care he’s either sitting by himself — on the most comfortable cushion the place has to offer — or he’s in the company of another cocker spaniel, usually a female. Ah, the ladies love my furry elitist.
Sometimes the Full Tilt Bozo seems maniacally timed for just when my head hits the pillow. And when His Lordship is awake, everybody’s awake. This is particularly hurtful given the fact that he can out-sleep a cat. The Old Man can pull 18 to 20-hour sleeping shifts that I wished coincided more closely to when I when I’m trying to sleep, but no such luck.
One night The Full Tilt Bozo had me up until 3am and he was just getting warmed up. I considered throwing his black-with-a-little-bit-of-grey-ass in the car and taking him for a drive, not to dump him off but to calm him down. His Lordship loves car rides, but I was in no shape to be behind the wheel.
And so, when I spotted the Thundershirt while standing in line at PetCo buying overpriced specialty dog food, I was intrigued. The package read: “The Best Solution for Dog Anxiety.” Oh, tell me more. The list of ailments it claimed to cure included fear of thunder, separation anxiety, excitability … Oh Thundershirt where have you been all of my life? The package said, “Safe, effective, drug free, easy to use.” Sold! The money back guarantee didn’t hurt either.
As per the instructions I put the Thundershirt on His Lordship when he was relatively calm. This was to minimize any negative association. And for the most part it worked, a Quarter Tilt Bozo is better than The Full Tilt Bozo. And he looked adorable. He strutted around as if he was trying to get the feel of it, periodically looking at me with what can only be described as wary suspicion. After a few catwalk passes he laid down and then eventually went to sleep, snoring like a grown man with severe sleep apnea. The Full Tilt Bozo was besotted.
I was relieved but jealous. I wish there was something I could put on to calm me down. A new pair of shoes, a glass of wine, and my Teddy Bear only goes so far especially since he’s usually at home when I need him most. Yes, I have a Teddy Bear. And yes, I still sleep with him. Is it odd for a grown woman to sleep with a teddy bear or even odder still to admit it? Well, it’s odd to me that I can’t carry him in my purse so I can reach in and clutch him when I feel my own personal Full Tilt Bozo coming on, which is what I guess I’ll have to do until they make a Thundershirt in my size.
© 2012 Leighann Lord
A very funny lady on the stage and on the page, stand-up comedian Leighann Lord pens a weekly humor column with topics ranging from the personal to the political, from the silly to the sophisticated. Reminiscent of a modern day Erma Bombeck (famed nationally syndicated humor columnist), a fan dubbed Leighann, “The Urban Erma” and the name stuck. It’s a fun, fast read that leaves you laughing, or at least wondering why we don’t have a comprehensive mental health care plan. Follow Leighann on Twitter and be a fan on Facebook.