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Episode #29: My Little Family Loses Its Sh*t Around Dinner Time

Almost every single day, my little family starts to lose its shit right around time for dinner. This is somewhere between about 4:00 or 4:30 and 6:00 and 6:30, depending on the day. And our little guy, Bogie, our 15-year-old pug, our geriatric little man is usually the one to start it. Just when I have another hour or two to go in my work day. That’s when Bogie’s little 12-pound body starts to tell him it’s meal time. The veterinarians and the doggie neurologists say that his circadian rhythm is off because of his doggie dementia. They don’t actually SAY Bogie has DEMENTIA – they call it CDS or something like that for Cognitive Disorder Syndrome. And it messes with his body clock and wakes him at about 4am, demanding his breakfast and about 12 hours later, he’s demanding his dinner. Mind you, about half the time, probably more, Bogie DOES get his breakfast shortly after 4am, AFTER I carry him outside, remove his diaper cover and his disposable diaper and I toss the wet disposable diaper in the trash. Often for that first *walk* or pee of the *morning*, Bogie also surprises me with some poop hiding inside his diaper cover, so I drop that into the garbage can – his outdoor diaper pail really – and set aside the diaper cover to throw into the washing machine later in the day, once we’ve gotten to 4 dirty diaper covers. I often don’t mind the 4am wake-up *calls* from Bogie. I am a morning person by nature and I go to bed by 9pm. And I have always liked the quiet of early mornings, before the rest of the world around me is up. And by the time I take Bogie out, clean him with a baby wipe and put him in a new disposable diaper, a clean diaper cover and do all his medications and vitamins, feed him and clean up after all that, I get myself ready for the day and by 5 or 6am, I can be taking care of administrative things for our household and/or writing and recording podcast episodes. And when Bogie is barking and *yelling* at me to go out – well, to GET FED at 4am, I’m not usually agitated with him. I’m awake and rested and I turn on the coffee pot I’ve gotten ready the night before and I enjoy the smell of freshly brewing coffee and the OTHERWISE quiet of the early morning. And, of course, I FORGIVE Bogie for his doggie dementia and I bless and thank him for every day that he’s with us, for every day he still has his voracious appetite. Because the day that dog loses his appetite is the day I will lose mine. If Bogie ever DOESN’T want to eat, I know he will be VERY SICK. Anyway, the 4am yelling for breakfast is ok. What’s often NOT ok for me is the 4 or 4:30pm starting to BARK and YELL and PANIC, while Mercedes is getting home from the school bus stop, while I finish a few more things for my work day. From his little doggie bed and little house in the kitchen, off of my office/the den, Bogie starts up. His little body tells him IT’S TIME. And I can’t rick his little body. I know because I have TRIED. I have tried to trick his little body by waiting in the morning to feed him as *late* as 5 or 6 or even 7. Doesn’t matter. By 4pm – unless he is miraculously SLEEPING, the PANIC sets in. Bogie goes from ZERO to 60 in seconds flat. Here’s my Bogie impression. Ragh. Ragh. Jwa Jwa. [Sneeze] Bang Bang. Scratch Scratch at the metal door to his little house. Ragh Ragh. Jwa Jwa. [Sneeze] Bang Bang. Scratch Scratch. CLANG CLANG. And there are a few things that are different at 4-4:30pm vs. 4:30AM. 1) Bogie’s YELLING and pawing at the doggie house door is DESPERATE, he’s truly panicking as if his next meal DEPENDS on how persuasive he is. 2) My daughter is home from school and needs my attention – to tell me about her day and for me to LISTEN. 3) My daughter is hungry and thirsty and probably needs to pee pretty badly because she doesn’t like to use the bathrooms at school. 4) And she’s just been carrying her VERY HEAVY backpack, which includes her school-issued laptop – NOT a LIGHTWEIGHT one – a library book or two and an umbrella or two. And this very heavy backpack might also get caught on her very long and beautiful hair as she takes it off and sets it down inside the house, by the garage door. 5) And somehow, my daughter’s heavy backpack, the backpack getting caught on her hair, her having to pee and her hunger and thirst are MY FAULT. I have a drink and snacks ready for her – the thirst and hunger I can DO something about. But I just have to get the hell out of her way on the backpack and hair thing and clear the way for her to go to the bathroom. All the while, I’ve got Bogie in the background, growing in intensity in his PANIC. RAGH RACH. JWA JWA [SNEEZE]. SCRATCH SCRATCH. CLANG CLANG. RAGH RAGH. JWA JWA. [SNEEZE] SCRATCH SCRATCH. CLANG CLANG. So, I’ve got my daughter MAD AT ME because she’s thirsty, hungry, has to pee and she’s fighting with her backpack and hair, I’m trying to wrap up my work day over the next hour or two AND Bogie is officially freaking the fuck out. AND NOW, I’M starting to realize that I’M getting hungry, often not having eaten all day. So, while my daughter is drinking and snacking, I turn to Bogie to get the NOISE to STOP! I take him out of his little doggie house and carry him outside – probably for the FOURTH time of the day at this point. And while I’m CARRYING him, he stops the barking and yelling and he might even turn his little face toward me and give me a quick kiss on the neck or cheek, as if to say, if only briefly – “Thanks, Mama.” I melt for a second, give him a little squeeze and I do the whole diaper cover, disposable diaper thing, go out the back gate and set him down in the grass to at least pee, before bringing him back in, doing the baby wipe thing, putting on a new disposable diaper and a clean diaper cover. Then no sooner than when I put back in his doggie house to not fucking HURT HIMSELF while I prepare his evening meds, supplements and dinner, he starts back up, even MORE DESPERATE than before. RAGH RAGH. JWA JWA. [SNEEZE] SCRATCH SCRATCH. CLANG CLANG. By NOW, my daughter is no longer thirsty or starving and she’s used the bathroom and she’s forgotten about her hair getting caught on her backpack. NOW, my daughter wants to CHIT CHAT – with the Tasmanian Devil in the background. RAGH RAGH. JWA JWA. [SNEEZE] SCRATCH SCRATCH. CLANG CLANG. So, my kid is no longer losing HER shit, Bogie is FULL ON losing HIS shit. And now, I. Now I start to lose MY shit. “Bogie, STOP!!!!”, I yell. “STOP IT! I CAN ONLY GET YOUR MEDS AND DINNER READY SO FAST! YOUR YELLING AT ME DOES NOT MAKE ME GO ANY FASTER! IN FACT, IT SLOWS ME THE FUCK DOWN!” I now know I have completely LOST it because I am yelling OVER a dog yelling at me in a PANIC, a PANIC which he cannot control. And, even if he COULD, he sure doesn’t understand what I’m saying. Sometimes during all this racket, my daughter will go upstairs and start on her homework. Sometimes, she’ll try to continue speaking to me, telling me about her school day while I am racing against the clock to feed – and therefore QUIET – the TASMANIAN DEVIL. And God forbid if my kid thinks I’m NOT FULLY listening to her, I might also get an earful from her. “You only care about Bogie and yourself, “she might say and storm off. And I’m a combination of PISSED OFF AND DEFEATED. PISSED OFF because my daughter is so PRIVILEDGED and so well taken care of and she’s in 6th grade now – old enough to know that at THIS time of day, once Bogie thinks it’s dinner time and he starts the PANIC drill, there’s no doing anything else until he’s taken out his dinner is put in front of him. I have NO FUCKING CHOICE. And I’m pissed off because rather than HELPING ME and getting all his meds and supplements and food out, while I carry him outside and back in for the cleaning and re-diapering for the FOURTH or FIFTH GODDAMNED time of the day, my daughter is giving ME A HARD TIME. How can she be MAD at me for putting our GERIATRIC dog first?? How can she POSSIBLY say that I only care about BOGIE AND myself?? What the FUCK? All damn day, she’s in the back of my mind as I plan our evenings and weekends and take care of our household. My daughter is the REASON I do everything I do four our household. AND I am DEFEATED, as I said. Pissed off AND DEFEATED. DEFEATED because by this time I’m SO AGITATED from the sounds that were coming out of Bogie and his little house, but now he’s eating – scarfing down his food – WET food, mind you. Canned pumpkin and canned medicated food for his kidneys. Wet food that he might step in and that is often on at least one of his ears. But he’s QUIET now and I’m almost done with Bogie for the next 4 or 5 hours, before his bedtime last pee and poop. He’s QUIET and usually so is my daughter. And by this time, she may have even apologized to me. And I say I’m sorry, too, for my outburst AT Bogie. And I LAUGH at myself for LOSING MY SHIT and I know I”m not acting right because I’m hungry, and I start working on dinner and know that once I’ve cleaned the food off of Bogie and his dish and the mat under his dish and put him and his full little belly back into his doggie house, I’ll eat, too and I’ll feel better. And I’ll try to think if there is SOME way, ANY way AT ALL to break this cycle of my family losing its shit around dinner time. We DO sometimes break the cycle – not for BOGIE, but for my daughter and me – by ordering dinner IN or by me going OUT for an early dinner, giving my daughter some space, and bringing dinner back home for her. A bit of distance between us is a good thing. And I’m far less agitated with Bogie once I’M fed first. And he doesn’t yell and panic when I’m not home, even if it IS his dinner time. He might not see or hear well, but I’m CONVINCED Bogie can SENSE my presence – maybe he SMELLS me. Anyway, we sometimes break the cycle and if any of you listeners have any OTHER ideas, please message me!

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