Dingus of the Week: My Stupid Dog

We all need a break, plus drinks. We need drinks.

Hi! Welcome to the Weekly Dingus, my Friday newsletter, where I round up my internet reads, share a drink, and yell about a dingus. Is that dingus a politician? A boat in a canal? Or maybe it’s just pants. You can read about past weekly dinguses in the archives.

This week, the dingus is my actual dog Dolly. While there has been a lot of abhorrent behavior in the world this week, it’s the summer, and we all need a rest. So, let’s talk about what an absolute dingus my dog is.

Over Memorial Day weekend, I went to Kansas City to visit my brother and his wife and meet my baby niece who was born in the pandemic. While I was gone, I sent my dogs Jolene (small dachshund mix) and Dolly (an actual wolf) to get spayed and boarded at the vet.  And Dolly ended up with not one but two surgeries. First, let me explain.

I adopted two pandemic dogs. Jolene came to us in July through a friend who knew of a litter of puppies and, well, I am the only adult in charge in my home and I’m drunk with power. And she became my son’s dog after we had to put his cat down in April. She’s so little and cute and just an absolute fuzzball of love. I often wake up in the morning to find my son lying on the floor with Jolene on his belly. Everyone loves Jolene.

Dolly? Well. I adopted Dolly in January. It was a dark winter. I had just been fired from a job I was doing well. And not just well, but exceptionally well. And for reasons that were political in a very red state. The day before I was fired, my face was on an attack ad funded by the Iowa GOP.

I played rugby in college, until one day, during a scrimmage, I got hit hard. Really hard. I got a concussion. I remember laying on the field looking up at the sky being so confused about why I was there. It felt like that. Like I’d been hit so hard, I’d been knocked out.

I went from working two jobs (kid’s page editor and columnist) and launching a book to a winter of nothing. I made complicated meals no one ate. I signed up for a vaccine trial, and I volunteered with Meals on Wheels. I took very long walks and even longer runs.

Read: Running through 2020

I told my friend Serena that I had always wanted a very big dog. In high school, I had dreams that I was driving around in a truck with a big black lab named Sinclair. I don’t know why. But that was always the image of a person I wanted to be. Driving free with a dog next to me. Serena is an enabler and the owner of two malamutes.

“So get one,” she said. “It’s not a good time,” I told her. 

“Of course it is! It’s a pandemic. It’s always a good time!” she said. And then, sometime in January, she sent me a link to a place that had two malamute puppies. I agreed to go look at them.

I looked for 15 minutes and then walked back into Serena’s car $500 poorer and with 30lbs of Alaskan malamute in my arms.

This was my dog. All my other pets belong to my children, but this pet was for me. I brought her home and immediately began reading everything I could about malamutes. Two weeks after adopting her, I broke my wrist playing outside in the snow with my kids. And then suddenly, my winter got a lot worse. I had to stop writing. I was in a lot of pain. Five days after I broke my wrist, my kids went to their dad’s house for the weekend and I decided, that Friday night, to take a pain pill and get some rest. 

I thought I locked the dogs up in my room. I took a pill. Turned on The Great British Baking Show and went to sleep. I woke up eight hours later to find my room door open and my dogs gone. I walked out to the living room and smelled it before I saw it. Dog shit. It was everywhere. What I believe happened was that Dolly had busted out of the room while I was down for the count, ate something off the counters, and then had diarrhea. Then, I believe she and Jolene tramped through the poop and smeared it all over the house. Dolly was on a leash then so I could control her. And the leash had been dragged through the shit and flicked around the house. For days, I found small flecks of poop on my walls.

I looked at the shit-smeared house and began sobbing. I duct-taped a plastic bag over my arm and got to work. It took me four hours to clean everything up. Then, I collapsed on the couch and fell back asleep.

This winter. On the days the kids were with their dad, Dolly was the only reason I got out of bed. Her big, wide wolf grin and slobbery tongue needed me. And she is large. Right now she’s eight months old and almost 80 pounds. Having her forced me to go out on walks, even though my arm was in a cast and it was -30 outside. We’d walk for three to four miles. I’d pack hand warmers in my coat pockets and listen to Call of the Wild on Audible. Malamutes are one of the breeds of dogs genetically closest to wolves. And wolves are survivors. 

Dolly is sweet, but she’s very large and mischievous. She’s ripped up my screen door and the screen on one of my windows. She ripped a hole in my garage door and chewed up a leg on my wooden outdoor table. Once she ate an entire clamshell of sugar cookies from the store, and I was cleaning up the diarrhea for two days. I’ve had to pull plastic wrap from her butt.

The other day, I told my daughter that maybe I’d gone a little overboard. Maybe I shouldn’t have adopted a wolf when I was sad. My daughter looked at me and said, “Why would you say that? Our house is perfect. Our pets are perfect.”

When I took Dolly and Jolene to the vet to get spayed, Dolly was almost seven months old and 75.3 lbs. I got a call when the surgery was over, and it had gone well. Both dogs were resting well. So I continued on my trip, not worried at all.

The next morning, I got another call. The vet didn’t want to alarm me, but Dolly’s tranquilizers had worn off, and in the middle of the night she had busted up her kennel and re-opened her stitches. They had to re-operate and put a lining in her abdominal wall. I talked to the vet who gently told me that she also had destroyed at least five of the cones around her head and that they were giving her a lot of tranquilizers, but they weren’t calming her down.

I called Serena who came and picked up my dogs immediately.

Dolly was fine. I picked her up, and it was like nothing had happened. She was just her energetic, loving, goofy, dingus self. “Oh, these stitches? You should see what I did to the kennel!”

I love her. 

As I was writing this, she jumped up and took an entire chunk of cornbread off the top of the microwave. An absolute dingus. A dingus who is gonna be just fine.

What I am Reading:

Historian Angela Tate wrote an incredible essay on eating disorders and Blackness for Anne Helen Petersen’s Culture Study. Janet Malcolm, a writer I deeply admired, died this week. Her obituary is a testament to her keen powers of observation.

I wrote about love in a Covid summer.

Alert! I’m doing a book event for my favorite new novel, Kelsey McKinney’s God Spare the Girls. You can watch us talk Christianity, weddings, and country music on Tuesday!

Kate Burns wrote an incredible profile of Illinois Rep. Marie Newman and her daughter Evie.

A reporter in Mississippi lost in his fantasy football league and had to spend 24-hours in a Waffle House. The result will shock and dismay you.

Which reminds me of this hilarious and touching essay by one of the greatest, Caity Weaver, who once tried to eat the all-you-can-eat appetizers at TGI Friday’s.

Nicolas Cage protects his truffle pig!

Online learning was an absolute disgrace. Charlie Warzel wrote about what newsrooms and EVERYONE needs to know about internet backlash. Ty Rushing wrote about the work Black doulas are doing in Iowa.

Remember, journalism has a problem, but it’s not the one you think it is.

Speaking of Iowa. This week, Rep. Ras Smith announced his bid for governor. Rumors still hold that Rob Sand will also run. So that means we have a possible Finkenauer for Senate campaign. Ras Smith, Deidre Dejear, and a possible Rob Sand for governor. And state Senator Liz Mathis will run against Ashley Hinson. And I’m hearing some fun rumors about other races. Rest now, chuckleheads, because this fall will be a fun one.

What I am Drinking:

Last week, I took a little trip to Atlantic City, where I had never been before and stayed in the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, which used to be the old Trump Hotel. And that feels like a metaphor somehow. Anyway, I did a very valiant tour of all the margaritas on the boardwalk. I sacrificed my body and my dignity to let you know which one was the best, and let me tell you, Jimmy Buffett’s Landshark restaurant’s “Perfect Margarita”' is…perfect. Jimmy Buffett knows margaritas. Jimmy Buffett will fuck you up with tequila.

I did not get the recipe. Jimmy Buffett doesn’t have recipes. Jimmy Buffett has vibes and vibes only.

But later, when I was in New York, I did have a mezcal Manhattan, which was a delight.

Take care of yourselves out there. Be kind. And please tell me about your favorite thing that you did this week.


Men Yell at Me is a newsletter about the places where our bodies and politics collide and yes, the occasional yelling man. Learn more about it and me (Lyz) here. You can sign up to receive the free weekly email which includes interviews, essays and original reporting. The Friday email is a weekly round-up of dinguses, drinks and links. On Monday I have a subscribers-only open thread where we discuss politics and our bodies and more.