Life with our Jack Russell Terror has its ups and downs…and here in the last week, the downs have reached a point where I’m longing for something stronger than hot tea to take my woes away. For one thing, JRT can’t stand a crying baby. He’s high-strung enough, I suppose, that the noise and the apparent agony of a little person are just too much. He seeks me out and whines and runs in frantic little circles when the baby cries or whimpers or squeaks. That might not be so bad if he didn’t also have a hang-up, since inserting a little one into his domestic universe, with all things that bang – and even soft bangs, like the closing of a dresser drawer, qualify in this category.

Shut the door to the bathroom, JRT goes nuts and barks his signature wake-the-dead-scare-the-living bark. Close the drawer with onesies, and have a repeat performance. Toddler drops a heavy object in the front room; JRT protests and makes my blood boil.

Toddler-tron, when she was a baby, took no notice of JRT’s barking. “Well of course not,” someone pointed out to me, “she’s been hearing it her entire life, from the time she was in you.” Ahh, I thought, the same should be true for our new baby.


Our Little Mouse, it turns out, does notice JRT’s noisy antics. She might not wake completely, but her sleep is definitely disturbed.

Strike one.

And then there’s the issue of cleanliness. I’m not the best housekeeper, but with a baby and a toddler, there are certain priorities. A clean table, for one thing, and a fairly clean floor, for another. Ever since JRT pulled his jumping-on-the-table-and-defecating stunt a few months back (more than once, I might add), I never trust that the tables are quite clean enough. In fact, finding the dog hair everywhere has led to some hard-to-answer questions (How did the dog get in my underwear drawer?! being just a starter.).

Strike two.

The first two strikes are largely forgivable, though the second has been weighing on me for some time. But then, on Sunday while Hubby was at Mass and we girls were here puttering around and in general getting used to what life will be like when he goes back to work (even as I was wishing it wasn’t staff-and-flu-and-nasty-germ season so I could take my baby out in public without making worrywarts out of every adult in my life, self included). I happened to be walking by the couch, right after growling at JRT to GET OFF THE COUCH (he’s a smart dog – why must he defy me?!?) yet again, when I saw something I had never seen before: a teeny tiny gooey-looking white thing left behind when the dog leapt off the couch. And through the red rage and blue terror, I picked it up on my pinky and…it moved. I put it in a cleaned out jar, so that Hubby could ID it when he got home, and tried not to think about it.

We determined that it was a hook worm. “But haven’t you had him wormed?” my mother-in-law asked incredulously. “Didn’t the vet take care of that the last time you had him in?” (That was when we took care of heartworm and fleas, incidentally, and cost a pretty penny.) Um, no. Somehow, I just can’t bring myself to blame the vet for that (though I’m sorely tempted). I should have known, my mind screeched, even as it conjured images of my toddler in the hospital for having worms, wasting away to nothing.

In the midst of my crying (there was no helping it, really – I’ve been pretty even keel in avoiding the baby blues so far (though it’s still early), but this was too much), I pronounced the third strike.

JRT’s life has changed a bit since Sunday. He’s now an outside dog. The five hours of barking didn’t sway me. I even let him use our inside porch for his kennel, and we’ll probably kennel him there, in his cage, through the day, for the protection of such innocents as the mail lady (who sometimes has to drop larger things off and is nice enough to leave them on our porch) and the UPS delivery guy and the Jehovah’s Witnesses who have taken to leaving flyers around.

So far, I’ve noticed him with one dead mole. Good things might come of his newfound freedom to fully realize his potential as a critter dog. Certainly life on the outside is only going to improve my mental health, since my house has been disinfected and can now be called – though tentatively in some spots – clean.