Our newest family member, Karma.
In early September of this year (being 2013), our late night television watching – at 11:15 pm to be exact – we were interrupted by a soft knock on our door. To provide context, we quite literally keep our door open almost all day, everyday, and see a constant stream of friends coming through, whether it be for morning coffee, a hot meal, or simply good conversation. Being adherents of the Burning Man community, we are comfortable sharing as much of our resources as we can with those in our lives and have maintained our “open door policy” for the better part of our 26 year history together. Hence, though the hour was late, we weren’t worried or overly surprised that someone would stop by, figuring it might be a neighbor or friend on the way through or in need of something.
What greeted us that night, however, was something we definitely could not have anticipated – a teary eyed man holding a puppy. Stunned, we stood in our doorway as he explained that he and his girlfriend (who was waiting, crying with her head buried in her hands, in their truck outside) had been evicted earlier that day from their apartment and were on their way to a friend’s home 400 miles away in northern California. They saw our door open and took a shot and knocked, hoping we could take the dog and either keep it ourselves or find it a good home as they simply were too overwhelmed to continue as its owner. After seeing the two of them in such despondency, we did the only thing we felt was right and accepted the dog. They then drove off and we found ourselves in the care of the mutt pictured above, without a clue as to what breed she is or so much as a name by which to call her.
Well, you probably know where this is headed. After three days of caring for this new addition to our household, we were smitten and are now dog owners for the first time. Most of our friends own dogs and offered to help us with advice and several names were suggested; we settled on our good friend, Teri’s suggestion and went with “Karma.” Given how she came into our lives, we figured it appropriate and, though we’d looked forward to an animal-free home as our 21 year old cat, Whiskers, heads into his final weeks, we must admit that Karma has injected a healthy dose of fun and challenge to our hectic household.
That said, we have encountered one specific obstacle that has us a tad off-kilter; that is the fact that having this dog in our household has put a serious damper on our sex life. When we leave her alone for some “intimate time,” she barks and whines; if we allow her into our bedroom, she jumps up on the bed and interrupts us; and even throwing her into our backyard results in Karma throwing herself against the back door and yapping. Crating her works fine for sleeping and Karma does fine keeping quiet through the night; however, if we so much as make a sound she wakes up and yelps to be let out. It’s almost like being parents again as we had to sacrifice sex to diaper changes, sleep deprivation, and middle of the night feedings when our son was an infant.
After ten days of forced sexual abstinence, we turned to Elisha Stynchula, owner of I Said Sit, one of LA’s most respected dog training facilities. Her recommendation, “Get her OUT of your bedroom, at the very least your BED!” Elisha suggested either waiting a few more weeks until Karma would be fully acclimated to her night time crate ritual or removing her from our bedroom, entirely. “You need to have your own space,” dog or no dog,” Stynchula lectured, “You don’t let your child in your room at night anymore, do you?” Her advice was backed up by a neighbor directly across our street, who never, EVER allows their dog into their bedroom, no matter how much he whines or protests. “You need to establish boundaries and set a routine, for both YOU and the dog,” Elisha urges. She cautions against giving in to our own need to cuddle with our dog in bed and to instead find a more neutral area of the house for affection.
Professional animal trainer Nathalie Jobin-Maybury agrees with Stynchula, “Maybe designate a special time and space on your couch for bonding with your dog(s),” Jobin-Maybury preaches, “Over time, your pup will adapt and it will become second nature, giving her the confidence to be less needy when you’re not giving her attention. Keep the dog out of the bedroom for now until you’re able to establish boundaries within. Sounds like the pup just needs to be taught to be ok with being alone. We’ve been very lucky with our dog, Mattie. She happily sleeps in her own bed at night. In our bedroom too. She never sleeps in our bed unless one of us gets out, usually Dave (her husband) for work and then she crawls in to join me. We are also lucky that if Dave and I get intimate, she vacates the premises. It makes her uncomfortable and she leaves, which I think is great because having her in the room watching is a no go for me and having to break the moment to put her out of the room is a damper. I will say that when Mattie came into our lives, there was a dip in our sex lives too. For different reasons than yours. For me it was like I suddenly became a mother and my priorities went to the ‘child’ and sex became a distant need/want.”
Obviously, we will be experimenting with these tidbits of knowledge and adjusting as we go, but for now our libidos are put on hold as we attempt to find a workable solution to our needy new family member. A dog may be “man’s best friend,” but our little pup is certainly no friend of our sex life. If you have any suggestions, PLEASE comment – HELP!!!