I love you, just not what you’re into.

Since we nearly broke up a few months into our relationship after I told my Lord of The Rings loving boyfriend (JK) that ‘I didn’t care for fantasy’ I’ve made a concerted effort to champion his interests while remaining detached and uninvolved. Like he’s really into historic drama TV shows – Vikings and Hell on Wheels type stuff. Sometimes he even insists we watch them together so I try and make a game of it, guessing how far into an episode I’ll see a woman’s breast, or her rape or perhaps her sale to a wealthy landowner.

He’s also really into reading books about dogs, which is cool, if that’s your sort of thing but he thinks I should read them as well so I can get a better understanding of our staffy. But I’m not sure how much reading is going to solve the issue that our dog, who is so in love with JK, will one day kill me in my sleep, proceed to make a Lou suit out of my skin and resume her rightful place on the pillow beside him.

Anyone in a relationship will admit it’s hard to like all the things your partner does, well unless you’re these guys…

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…and while it’s great to share interests and be introduced to new ones, there comes a time, let’s say past 30 where you just think ‘fuck it’. I mean most of us spend our 20s pretending to like things we don’t in order to get laid or not die alone, so why, as I head into my late 30s should I continue the charade? After all, don’t all of us die alone?

This leads me to where my preamble has been heading – gardening. Yep, gardening.  My boyfriend is really into gardening. He loves it. He’d be a gnome if he could be, complete with short man syndrome and pointy little hat, but alas he is 6’1 and refuses to wear a waistcoat, even though I think it would be totally cute, but whatevs.

Myself, I’m not into gardening.  Never have been and at 36 unless I’m struck by a bolt of lightening and wake up from a coma as a totally different person I never will.  Now don’t get me wrong, I appreciate a good garden as much as the next person, some of my best friends garden but I’m more of an applauder than a performer when it comes to a good mulch or a well watered vegie patch. I love that in my yard I have a slew of burgeoning red cabbages, spring onions I can always count on, sprigs of thyme perfect for soup and even a passionfruit tree. I love that there are pots of flowers all over my house, mainly all gifts I’ve received over the years from JK, and only alive due to his efforts, though my ongoing disinterest in their welfare has made it touch and go on occasion.

But what I love most of all – I’m not responsible for any of it.

And so it was, that on Melbourne Cup Day, I found myself dressed in flannel and a 80s vintage jumpsuit, reading instructions on the side of a bag of fertiliser that assured me it would not burn my eyes, playing gardening assistant to JK, or apprentice as he liked to say. We were planting tomatoes because that’s what you do on Melbourne Cup Day, that and kill horses for sport.

He had requested my company. Said it would be fun. It would be my job to hand him things, fill buckets with things and control the afternoons music selection. One of those things I did with great abandon, the other two, I did somewhat half assed. To be fair he had offered me a way out earlier in the day, suggesting he fix up the hammock so I could read but I was tired of being cast of the bad witch from Wicked in our relationship, so I insisted on helping. My ego thwarting me once more.

We gardened for what seemed like days, no months. Winters came and went, summers were cruel, the springs a welcome break from the intense labor that came with handing JK a watering can at varying intervals and clipping off bits of twine to secure the vegetation. It was exhausting, soul destroying. I think I lost a piece of myself that day…

I was about to give up, walk away, perhaps get lost on the way back to civilisation and Foxtel on Demand and starve to death in our driveway when JK suddenly turned around, smiled, running a well calloused hand through his beard. ‘Thanks for today’ he said ‘I know you don’t like gardening, but I really like getting to spend time with you. It’s been nice.’

With such crippling accusations levelled at my feet I realised he was right. I do not like gardening, that day being no exception, but there is something I like more – spending time with JK, watching him do something he enjoys, so I smiled back in a way that communicated ‘I love spending time with you too, but no, we’re not watching The Hobbit after this.’
There’s only so few compromises I was willing to make that day.

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I’m a good person. I’m a dog owner.

I’m a dog owner. When I say it like that it sounds more loaded than it actually is. I don’t think I’m better than anyone else, society says I am because I’m a dog owner. To give my position in society more gravitas I can also tell you that my dog is a rescue dog. I can also tell you that I wrote that line whilst sipping on an almond milk latte in Brunswick. I bet you can tell what sort of person I am can’t you? If I let you know that she’s a staffy and I named her after a lesbian bouncer I once met called Roxy it kinda seals the deal – I’m a northside wanker. I might as well call myself an artist, live with my artist boyfriend and not eat sugar (thanks Sarah Wilson!). I am all of those things – a wanker, an artist, sugar free and a dog owner. The last of which is the most important.

But I’m an anxious dog owner. My dog is a rescue dog and she was fine when we got her but then an off leash dog attacked her and lets just say it triggered something in her and she’s gone from ‘oh your dog is so cute, lets pat her to death’ –

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-to ‘look away children, if you look it directly in the eyes you will turn to stone.’

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Since her attack she’s been on antidepressants, anti anxiety medication and to top it all off she has to wear a mask that makes her look like Bain from Batman. We tried to jazz it up but the paint flaked off and now it just looks like an old jail cell strapped to her face. We are the worst kind of dog owners because we didn’t tell the owners of the unleashed dog to piss off, or report them. We thought because our dog was a rescue dog that we were to blame when their dog grabbed her head and wouldn’t let go because they told us so and well they were dog owners and dog owners are socially responsible people. They buy food for something other than themselves. They’re meant to be good people.

Well I call bullshit on that. The time I spend with my dog now includes avoiding off-leash parks, forcing my partner to run up ahead to corners to make sure the coast is clear and hanging out in parks where dogs have to wear a leashes, most of our time is taken up avoiding other dogs off leash and their owners in streets, roads, parks where they have to wear a leash – basically everywhere they’re not meant to be. It’s exhausting.

We found a nice park, leash only for our dog to run around in. Brilliant. We were even able to take off her mask. Great. A 20 minute walk about the pen, Shawshank Redemption Style. That was until two dogs came bounding over, barking at our dog, off leash followed by their owner. We kindly asked they keep their dogs away saying the usual ‘she’s a rescue dog who was attacked blah blah blah’ – they ignored us, saying their dogs were fine – we did the usual ‘I’m sure they’re great, but she’s a bit unpredictable blah blah blah’ – they kept coming towards us. We had no option, we had to leave. The one thing we didn’t say – ‘this is an on leash park you ass, there are signs everywhere, your dogs need to be on a leash’ – why didn’t we say it? Cause his dogs looked like fluffy balls of joy with sun shining out of their ass’s and ours looked like…well, a bouncer.

Our neighbourhood is full of off-leash dogs. There’s the two dobermans, the angry fluffy white dog who also attacks children, the guy who enjoys crossing the road to us just to see us have to cross to the other side, amongst others.

And then there was the other night. I took her for a quick walk around the block, stopping in an on-leash park and she was mask free. Suddenly through the darkness though came bounding a dog, a huge dog. Roxy played it cool, but as the dog started barking we all knew she wasn’t playing. I tried to get her mask back on ensuring my dog couldn’t defend herself and was at a loss of what do to (my dog weighs 15 kilos of pure muscle and subordination) and the owner appeared. I yelled out at him to call his dog back. He laughed. I yelled again, this time too time poor to do the ‘not to cause offence’ dance and he continued to find the whole thing hilarious. I told him to leash his dog. He laughed and so with no alternative left, as the other dog jumped for mine I threw my body on top of my dog, like a secret service agent taking a bullet and slammed into the ground. His dog bumped into me and when the owner came nearer he saw me lying on the ground, trying to catch my breath and all he could do was pause and say ‘sorry bout that’ before disappearing off into the night.

I’m sure he went straight home and told his family that a crazy woman stacked on her dog in the park and he would do so while I hobbled home with a shaking dog, bruised down one half of my body and bleeding from a cut on my hand.

But hey, he’s a dog owner. He’s a good person and I’m an injured almond latte drinker with a problematic dog who blogged about it.

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