The Benefits of Owning a Dickhead Dog


If you’ve ever wondered what it looks like when a dog has an existential crisis, you should meet my dog, Jethro. However, I’m warning you that under all of the whining, barking and jumping, is an amazing dog. Note: This is not a memorial post, Jethro is still alive and healthy ❤

It’s a danger being smart and independent when society expects you to be controlled and demure. Hounds are often deemed untrainable. Jethro, as sweet and goofy as he is, is a dickhead. No doubts about it. But it’s due to his independence and persistence that makes him such a dickhead. Calling him a pain in the ass might be more definitionally appropriate, but the alliteration of dickhead dog is also fitting in this case.

After almost 10 years of dealing with his antics, I’ll be the first to admit that having him in my life has led to some positive, unintended consequences. That is, despite all of the the grief, money and awkward social situations he’s put me in.

There are times I learned life lessons from Murphy’s law.

Such as the time when Jethro jumped into a lake after a duck and somehow broke his toe and insisted — despite having three good paws — that all 70 lbs of his furry-self be carried the 15 minutes back to the car in the middle of a soupy South Jersey summer.

Jethro and his broken toe

Or maybe it was all the times that he learned how to open my pantry door, eat the garbage, then eat all of the food in the pantry, no matter the obstacles or kiddie locks I put in his way.

Jethro and his love for trash and pantry items

Or the time I made chicken stock and discovered that he pulled the soup pot off the stove, dented it beyond repair, ate the chicken carcass, drank almost 5 quarts of chicken broth, then puked it up on my bed.

Or the time when he jumped up on the bathroom sink, broke the wall sconces, cut his foot, then danced all over the bathroom making the room look more like a brutal murder scene than a suburban home.

Or maybe, just maybe, it was the time when I came home to his explosive diarrhea all over my shoes and clothes in my walk-in closet. After that vile, disgusting clean up job, I took him to the vet only to find out that somehow my little furry friend contracted the parasite strongyloides- a bug that is only common in sub-Saharan Africa. To make matters worse, strongyloides is also a parasite that infects humans and the anti-parasitic medicine does not interact well with pregnant mothers (which I was at the time). The only people who were excited about Jethro’s unusual parasite was the team of infectious diseases and internists at Northwestern.

Or maybe it was the time when I was driving down a dark country road in Ohio, going 80 mph. My husband was in the passenger seat catching up on some work on his laptop. Seemingly randomly, Jethro decided that he had had enough of the backseat and jumped into my husband’s lap and subsequently, on the laptop. Jethro immediately realized that it was a bad idea, and then tried to jump onto my lap while I was driving. I’m still not sure how we didn’t crash.

There are times when he made me question my ethical boundaries.

As if it came out of a Larry David sketch, I found myself at a loss one sunny Spring day when I brought Jethro to the dog park. After running all over the park sniffing and peeing on everything, Jethro walked over to a group of people sitting on the ground, lifted his leg and marked one of the guys. I almost died. Only the tiniest, littlest drop of pee came out, but… still… it’s pee! The guy didn’t notice. His friends didn’t notice. No one else in the dog park saw what happened either. I had nothing with me other than poop bags and my phone. My mind started racing. Do I tell the guy what happened? Do I leave as quickly as possible? Do I try to find some tissues to clean him up? And most importantly… why is adulting so hard?!

There are times when he helped me weed out loser boyfriends.

Can’t deal with dog hair? Next!

“What do you mean? You don’t like my dog?!” Next!

“Sorry, but no,” in response to asking if I wanted another drink, “I have my houndy waiting for me.” Next!

“You’re deathly allergic to Jethro but you’re willing to take Zyrtec every day so you can be part of our life?” Winner! {I married that one ❤}

There are times when his antics made me realize the level of compassion to which I’m capable.

Owning a Jethro-like dickhead dog unexpectedly prepared me for motherhood. We can’t control everything in life, and Jethro has made it his life’s mission to make sure I understand this aspect of life. Like, on a daily basis. This knowledge made being a new mom much easier to navigate.

Additionally, I learned that it’s easier to get mad at the situation, but impossible to stay angry. Particularly with him. It’s much easier to get over it and move on.

And finally, I also learned not to judge a book by it’s cover. As much of a ruckus as Jethro causes, he’s the sweetest most loving dog I ever came across. The unconditional love we receive from dogs should never be squandered. Existential crisis or not.

So go home and give your dickhead dog a big squeeze and thank him or her for all of the life lessons.

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