Patti Brandt Burgess: A soft spot for a hard-to-love dog

Record-Eagle/Jan-Michael StumpPatty Burgess

Every time I look at the bite marks along the bottom edge of my dresser, I wonder why I wanted a dog.

Every time he nearly knocks me over when I come in the door, I wonder why I wanted a dog.

And every time I layer up to take him for a spin around the neighborhood in subzero weather so he can do his thing, I wonder why I wanted a dog.

He's chewed up my glasses, one dog bed, two harnesses, three leashes, several bras and my favorite shoes — both pairs.

He chewed holes in the beautiful quilt my mom made me — the one I took to the paint store so I could pick out a bedroom wall color that matched. I haven't told her yet. Hopefully she won't read this column.

We gave him some rawhide bones to chew on instead, which gave him diarrhea, which I stepped in in the middle of the night, sliding down the hall and nearly falling on my tookus.

Why did I want a dog?

We have a cat. Tig. He does his business in a litter box. He has some self control and can portion out his food so it lasts all day, rather than gulping it down in 60 seconds flat. He doesn't chew stuff up, and when we go somewhere for a couple of nights he doesn't need a babysitter.

Carl, on the other hand, has to be boarded where he is kept in a pen that makes me feel guilty the whole time I'm gone.

He also leaves his hair everywhere — on the floor, on the couch and on all three beds. It seems he can't decide which one he likes best. His own bed is hair-free.

We adopted Carl (Carl Poppa, for short) last January from the Cherryland Humane Society. He was 5 months old and came from Texas. That was all they knew about him.

We fell in love with him because of his high energy, his zest for life and his pure, unadulterated puppyness. Who doesn't love a puppy, even one that is all legs and ears?

A year later that high energy has worn us down. I think it's probably too late to take him back.

I work at a dog-friendly place, where my coworkers sometimes bring their dogs in to hang out while they work.

I'm embarrassed to bring Carl in because he's such a miscreant. Their dogs are all sweetness and light. Mine is a bull in a china shop.

But ... he was housebroken within a few weeks of arriving and never has accidents, even when we work late or decide to meet up for dinner before heading home to Cedar.

He forgives me every time I yell at him for his misguided behavior, never once holding it against me.

His favorite game is 'stick,' which he is really good at. When we take him to the dog park he gets along really well with all the other dogs. He loves hiking the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail and going to the beach. His exuberance is hilarious and infectious.

It doesn't matter whether I've been gone five minutes or five hours, he's always happy to see me. And he doesn't stint on his feelings — he enthusiastically lets me know how much he missed me.

When I'm watching TV in the evening, he crawls up in my lap (all 60 pounds of him) and snugs his head into the crook of my neck before falling asleep. His eyes are velvety brown and his body is soft and warm.

I can feel the stress of the day melting off, my blood pressure heading downward a few notches.

And that's when I know why I wanted a dog.

Email staff writer Patti Brandt Burgess at pburgess@record-eagle.com.