Depending on how well you know me, you may or may not be aware that I have a dog named Peanut. LOL, just kidding. If you have ever spoken to me, if you have ever made eye contact with me, if you have ever not made eye contact with me but looked somewhere in my general direction, then you've heard about Peanut.
Some might say I am obsessed with her.
I'll give them that.
Some might say I spend far too much time agonizing over what comes out of her butt and how often.
BUT LET ME TELL YOU something about Peanut:
this Peanut—saved my life.
I quit drinking four and a half years ago. I made many, many idiot decisions that nearly proved fatal, and I had the choice to quit boozing or die. I spent some time drying out, talking about my feelings, and trying to figure out how to stop making these idiot decisions.
It could be said, and certainly my dad would have said it at the time, that buying Peanut was an idiot decision. I had a physically demanding full-time job, little money, and a no pets policy in my house. But those things seemed so trivial when I looked into her puffy little face or as she chomped on my fingers with her little needle teeth. She was so small she could fit in the palm of my hand. After playing with her for an hour, I put her back in her enclosure. She began to whine and pressed her tiny, penny-sized paws against the glass.
"Ohhh," I said, worrying my lip, staring at her. "I can't afford her." She cost roughly 8 trillion dollars. "I can't afford to buy her, I can't afford trips to the vet, or doggy food, or toys."
"Well, you don't have to pay it all now," said the store owner.
"You mean... You have a puppy payment plan?" I asked.
"Uh... Yeah. We can split it up, is what I mean."
"I don't know," I said, trying not to look at the little brown and white ball squeaking and jumping in her cage. The girl handling the puppies took her out and set her on my lap again. She began tearing at the crotch of my jeans.
"Ohhhhh, I don't knoooow," I said again. But the thing was I knew Peanut was coming home with me the moment we made eye contact. I was walking past her cage to sanitize my hands before playing with the all the little doggy darlings, and BOOM I was in love. Letting her crawl across my shoulders and dart her tiny pink tongue up my nose was just a formality.
I left a box of Milkbone's on my housemate Zoe's bed with Peanut's picture taped to it, and a note: "oh Zoe, I did something wonderful and impulsive and terrible. Get ready for a new roomie!" Peanut was home about a week later, and the horror/fun began.
Peanut wouldn't stop biting. She would run past you like a soft ball of white light, and you'd look down and your hand would have little pin pricks in it. If you picked her up you were probably short a few digits by the time you let her go. So there was an unexpected cost right there, having fingers reattached every time I tried to handle my dog. I even attempted a solution for "extreme" biters, which was to poke my finger down her throat every time she bit me. She would gag and choke and, the book assured me, after two or three tracheal tickles, she'd figure it out.
Well, she didn't figure it out. Gagging her slowed her down for a second, but did nothing to deter the chewing. She'd make a weird KHAK! sound and then go right back to work.
To break up the monotony, Peanut also licked. And licked and licked and licked. In your ears, up your nose, even on your eyeball. So here was another cost, forcing me to buy hair pieces to cover where she'd licked me bald.
Also fun was the speed at which she moved. Like a little furry missile she was, back and forth and back and forth and LEAP in the air to bite your pinkie and back and forth, pausing to poop under the table.
"Shit," I thought. "Shit, my dog is crazy."
She was lonely, too. The first time I left her alone for a full shift at work, she greeted me with a desperate, sobbing scream. I fell on the ground and started to cry. I was the worst. The worst and the stupidest dog parent to ever pay 85 zillion dollars for a dog. Why did I think I could do this? I couldn’t. I would have to give her up.
(Fun Fact: The title of this post refers to my inability to sing a song without inserting Peanut's name into it, i.e. "Boogie On, Reggae Peanut.")