Jen Mierisch: Bad Girl.. or How I learned to stop Worrying and Love the Dog

I am not a dog person. However, I have a dog. And it’s a good thing she’s cute, because she’s a real bitch.

The kids wanted her. My husband wanted her. It had been several years since our previous dog died. I caved. Mercury was in retrograde; I should have known that the decision, if not the dog, would come back to bite me.

Our newest housemate and I have a dysfunctional relationship. Granted, she’s adorable. I’m not immune to the charms of her puppy face. However, in lieu of barking, she emits a shrill, high-pitched whine that drives me batty. In the mornings, I cannot abide her exuberant leaping before coffee. She’s all up in my grill, wanting to play, and I’m too busy. She wants to lick my face, and I do not want that, ever. Can’t have my precious bodily fluids polluted by a critter who nibbles at three-day-old takeout on the sidewalk.

When we got her, I made it clear that as getting this dog was not my idea, I would not be doing all of the dog chores. What’s that I hear? Oh yes, the raucous laughter of a thousand moms. I declared that I wasn’t training her, because I did not need more things added to my mental load. And so, a year later, our dog still isn’t leash-trained and persists in occasionally emptying her bladder in the house. My 9-year-old did teach her how to jump through hula hoops. (Thanks, kiddo! So useful.)

Sometimes, I hate her. Always, she loves me. Like I said, we’re a bit dysfunctional.

I walk her daily, with bad grace. I detest walking her, but, as with many domestic tasks, I ended up with this one because I’m the work-from-home employee in the household. Generally speaking, I love taking walks. However, my blissfully wandering thoughts are frequently interrupted by brutal yanks on my arm, as my dog succumbs to squirrel bloodlust. My leash-holding hand will suddenly leap outward as if possessed by demons.

Sometimes, I hate her. Always, she loves me. Like I said, we’re a bit dysfunctional.

As much as I resent her, though, my dog and I do have our moments of mutual not-hate. Maybe you’d call it a balance of terror.

I watch her tearing into her food with gusto, and I get it. Food is, to me, if not the #1 best thing in life, at least in the top five.

I see her, in a grassy field, stretching her 12-foot-long retractable leash out to its very last millimeter. And I think of myself as a kid, swimming as far out into the Atlantic Ocean as I dared.

I observe her refusal to be completely tamed. I know that feeling, having required many years of freedom and adventure myself before becoming domesticated.

I arrive too late, yet again, to stop her from climbing our chain-link fence to run amok in the neighbors’ property. And then I recall my 16-year-old self, sneaking out of the house at midnight to go to the Rocky Horror Picture Show with my friends.

A few weeks ago, the cops knocked on my door after someone reported a black dog running through their yard. Yet there may have been a time in college when I too ventured somewhere I wasn’t supposed to go and was the subject of a police report… ahem.

The word bitch is often used to describe a woman who’s strong and assertive. One might even say it’s a compliment.

Recently, a German-engineered prong collar has significantly cut down on the leash-yanking. The two of us bad girls have walked hundreds of miles together. If it’s love, it’s a strange love, but I’m ready to say it: Fluffbutt, let’s be friends.

Chicago-based editor Jen Mierisch draws inspiration from science fiction, ghost stories, and the wacky idiosyncrasies of human nature. Her work has appeared in Sammiches & Psych Meds, 50-Word Stories, Fudoki Magazine, and elsewhere. Visit Jen online at