The photos below are of our dog on the day we adopted him almost 12 years ago. A Beagle/Lab/Hound mix. Golden fur. White paws. Freckles on his snout and long, floppy ears. Mark and I were engaged to be married in six months, and our hearts melted. We enthusiastically signed the adoption papers and headed out the door as new pet owners. So excited! (And yes, that is me wearing a white turtle neck. Alone.)
Awww. Sleeping baby. (And yes, I am wearing high-waisted jeans. In 2002.)
Our puppy. Sweetheart. So adorable, playful and energetic. But there was something about him we couldn’t quite put our finger on. Naughty? Mischievous? We had a hard time thinking of a name that fit his personality. Until we watched Seinfeld. Jerry opened his apartment door and said, “Heeelllooooo Newman,” to his annoying neighbor and arch-nemesis. Without hesitation, Mark and I looked at our furry, little friend chewing on the leg of our wood coffee table and knew that he was Newman. Our Newman. Always going to make our life a little more difficult.
For the first few nights, he cried into the wee hours in his kennel. Howled actually. Just like a Beagle. Until we caved and brought him into bed with us. Poor thing. He snuggled between us under the covers. We thought it was so cute. At least he was quiet.
But then he started to grow. And grow. And grow. And before we knew it, there was a 70 lb. beast sleeping with us and snoring and drooling on our pillows. He would slink down to the end of our bed (under the covers) and curl up at our feet. But then he would get hot and stand up at the end of the bed. Under the covers. Tossing his head from left to right like a wild horse trying to break free. Sheets everywhere. At 3:00 a.m.
But he was our dog. Our Newman. Our Regal Beagle.
We embraced our furry friend even though he was a total pain in the ass.
Mark’s brother, Mike, took care of Newman for a weekend. Not only did Newman sleep under the covers with Mike and spoon him, he also ate his solar landscaping lights. Totally destroying them.
Newman ate food off the counter. ALL THE TIME. Bread, sandwiches, bagels, pork tenderloin, cake, muffins. Anything within his reach.
He ate toilet paper. And garbage. And his own poop. And my underwear. (Don’t ask.)
He rolled in shit. ALL THE TIME. Not just “shit” shit, but shit like dead animals and rotting dead animals. Anything that looked or smelled like radio active waste. Especially on a Sunday when the groomer was closed.
We had him neutered. And his dew claws removed. And his anal sacks drained. Many times. And then his anal sacks removed.
We were BFFs with the Emergency Vet for about a year. Newman ate tin foil. Bones out of the trash. Too much underwear. He even ran into a tree and stabbed his face. So many visits.
I remember coming home in the spring of 2003 or 2004 and I heard a scratching noise. What on earth? I walked around the house and finally realized that the noise was coming from upstairs. I got near the bathroom and realized that Newman had “locked” himself inside. I opened the door and was hit with a wave of humid steam and doggy odor. Poor Newman had been trying to “dig” his way out of the bathroom threw the door for about 2 hours. He almost made it. There was an inch layer of wood shavings on the bathroom floor.
Newman is a barker. BIG TIME. Don’t get me started about the mail man. We have to go into lock down mode when our carrier arrives. And the pizza man. And the UPS driver. And anyone that steps onto our property. EVER.
Mark’s arch-nemesis became Newman. Newman’s arch-nemisis was the black, standard poodle who lived a few doors down from us. The owner would walk that cocky a-hole past our house every day and Newman would go crazy. And by crazy I mean he would BARK! and throw himself against the windows and blinds until the dog was out of sight. The hair on the back of his neck stood up.
And then came Jonah. Sweet baby.
Newman was NOT happy.
(I know it looks like I am naked in this photo and humping Newman. But I want to clarify that I am only half-naked from the waist up and holding Newman. Why wear a shirt when you have to nurse every two seconds? You are lucky I am not topless.)
And then came Olivia. And I was diagnosed with bi-polar and our lives fell apart. And Newman went to Auntie Ruth’s. Not a relative, but a kennel named Auntie Ruth’s Furry Friends Home Away from Home. He stayed for a week. And then two. And then three and then Newman was there three months. Auntie Ruth finally called one day to say that Newman was depressed. I wanted to cry. And? I was depressed and could barely take care of my kids. I wanted to scream, “Do you think I give a shit if Newman is homesick?!?” The woman convinced me that it was in Newman’s best interest for him to come home. So we picked him up and brought him home.
And then we tried to take Newman to a “No Kill” Shelter. (At least we were thoughtful.) They refused to take him because he was old and ill-behaved.
He then had a large, cancerous tumor that was surgically removed. Our Vet recommended a round of Chemotherapy to ensure the cancer was dead. We refused. We were told Newman had 4-6 months to live. Tops. He is still alive. (Our friend, Tom, thinks that Newman is the missing link to the cure for cancer and that we should donate his body to research.)
And then we hired a trainer to help control his behavior. To no avail.
And then Facebook. Thank God for Facebook. I have two years worth of “Newman” posts on Facebook. Here are my favorites. Highlighting his personality. His charisma.
You know when you can feel someone staring at you. I was just catching up on Facebook and I felt it. Eyes. Staring. I turned and there was Newman sitting very calmly in the entry staring me down. I stared back. 10 seconds. 25 seconds. 1 Minute. Oh my God! Newman just sucked me into a staring contest and I bought in. Hook, line and sinker. I blinked and he turned away. Crap. He won!
Jonah came upstairs and said, “Mom, Newman is wrestling Beckham and he doesn’t like it.” I came downstairs to see Newman actually “dry humping” Beckham. Jonah said, “See Mom. He just keeps grabbing him and going like this.” (Imagine Jonah gyrating alongside Newman.) I looked at the boys and said, “I think this playdate is over.”
There was a knock at the door. “Mrs. Stevens…Newman is in our backyard.” I said, “No, Henry, he is in our backyard. Staked to the ground.” Henry smiled politely and said, “Actually, he is in our backyard with his stake and chain still attached to his collar.” I said in my own head, “F me…God damn it…of all the f-ing dogs…bullshit…” I said aloud, “Thank you, Henry. Let me get my shoes and I’ll come and get Newman.”
I just found Newman with the help of Clarice Starling and Hannibel Lecter. Newnam ripped his stacked leash out of the ground and ran off into the darkness. I ran blindly, looking for him. I found him tangled around a bush near Buffalo Bill’s back porch, NOT KIDDING. I just hope that the neighbors don’t call the police about a crazy woman running in backyards and driveways and shit.
I created a new rule in our house: if the bathroom door is closed, whoever is in there deserves privacy. Olivia too, even if she is spreading lotion all over the tile. Anyway, I walked into the bathroom and closed the door. One second later it started to open. Without even looking I freaked out, “What does a closed door mean?” It was Newman. For the love of God. Clearly he didn’t get the memo.
Fantastic day…cut/color (super short and BLONDE!), lunch with family, mani/pedi. Until I got home and learned from my babysitter that Newman had gotten loose and was in my neighbors yard chewing on a frozen, dead squirrel! Can you brush dogs’ teeth with people toothpaste? How about Scope? Do you think Newman could swish?
Remember when Newman came home after rolling in poop and a dead animal that rolled in poop before it died? Well, our Vet just confirmed that Newman snacked on that dead animal before rolling in it. He has an intestinal infection. Shocking. And, by the way, he has a double ear infection. Animal Protection may get after our ass.
Newman has his annual physical this week and I am scared. He is fat. Not phat, but FAT. I’m worried I will get lectured. However, you should know that Newman sits at his dog food bin and bangs it…louder and louder until I feed him. It in NOT my fault. You have no idea how annoying that noise is.
Oh Newman, Sweet, beefy Newman. He is so hungry right now I feel sorry for him. He is staring at his dog dish and drooling. I already fed him tonight…cutting his usual meal almost in HALF! Of course he is hungry. Hopefully he doesn’t try to eat us alive in our sleep.
I rushed out the door to get Jonah from after-school Spanish class and forgot to take the trash with me. You guessed it. Garbage EVERYWHERE when I got home. Here is a sample of Jonah’s commentary, “Mom, I bet you’ll make a better choice next time.” “Don’t throw up, Mom. You’ll just have to clean that up too.” “Maybe you should teach Newman how to pick up after himself.” I just poured myself a glass of wine.
(Next day) Our dog walker said, and I quote, “I don’t want to alarm you but there was a plastic baggie and part of a crayon in Newman’s poop today. Did he get into something?”
The grass is always greener on the other side. Especially when your dog rips the shit out if it everyday.
Newman and I have our little morning routine. I let him out and then I make myself a cup of coffee. He chills on his little dirt patch and then when the f-ing mystery neighborhood dog starts barking, Newman works himself up into a frenzy until I literally threaten to throw rocks at him if he doesn’t get his furry ass in the house ASAP. All at 6:00 a.m.
Standing at the bus stop. Olivia convinced me that she was strong enough to hold onto Newman. I believed her. Then Jonah got off the bus and Olivia let go of the leash and I grabbed what I could. Too late. I fell over. Newman ran up to the mail carrier who was literally freaking out on the hood of my neighbors car. He was PISSED. Sorry fella. Take a deep breath. Newman is all about love. Though aggressive. He only loves.
Never a dull moment. Jonah, Olivia and I walked out the door to greet our friends in the driveway and Newman bolted. He was running around our yard and then headed towards my neighbors. Then he was sniffing and digging and grass and fur where flying in the air and there was a screeching noise. It took a few seconds to register…he found a nest! I sprinted over and screamed, “Noooooooo. No, No, No…you stupid ASSHOLE! I kicked his body away (literally) from the BABY BUNNY NEST! I tackled Newman and made sure there were no bunnies in his mouth. And then I hear, “Ma’am? Ma’am! You must tie up your dog! NOW!” The mail carrier was freaking out in my next door neighbor’s bushes. Do I actually attract crazy?
Thank god our postman delivered our mail today and not a flaming bag of dog poop on our front step.
Here is a photo of my dear Newman just a few days ago.
Newman. Snurf. Snarly Snurf. Snurfy Snurf. He’s an old man now. I have loved him, hated him, tolerated him and loved him again. In conclusion, I want to quote Forrest Gump, “Life is like a box of chocolate. You never know what you are gonna get.” We got Newman, and wether we like it or not, we are in it for the long haul. XOXOX.