Welcome to “Why I Yelled,” Fatherly’s ongoing series in which real guys discuss a time they lost their temper in front of their wife, their kids, their coworker — anyone, really — and why. The goal of this isn’t to examine the deeper meaning of screaming or come to any great conclusions. It’s about yelling and what really triggers it. Here, Gary, 43, a fitness instructor, discusses losing his cool over the stress — and mess — of raising a new puppy.
Set the scene: what caused you to lose it?
Dog shit. Literally, I stepped in dog shit.
Okay. Were you on the street? At home?
I’ve got two sons – 8 and 10. My wife and I made a deal with them and said that, if they did the best they could in school last year, we would consider getting a puppy. Well, they crushed it. Straight As, check marks, all that stuff. They just crushed it. And it wasn’t like we didn’t think they could — we just didn’t think it would be so emphatic. We’re really proud of them. And, we made the deal. So now we have a puppy.
What kind of puppy?
Golden retriever. His name is “Brownie” – named, of course, after my beloved Cleveland Browns. That’s a whole ‘nother source of stress.
And he’s not particularly well-behaved?
He’s adorable, honestly. But, the first thing we told my kids was, “The responsibility you showed during school, you need to show that with a dog. Even more so, because a dog will depend on you to take care of it. You can’t slack off.”
I’m a fitness instructor, so motivation is a big part of my job. I thought I had this sewn up. But, like kids tend to do, they sort of lost interest after a few weeks. It definitely wasn’t intentional, it was just a lack of being able to plan like you need to when you’re caring for an animal. Some adults can’t even do that. They had a lot of other stuff going on – football, basketball, etc. – that’s a lot for a kid to keep track of.
So, when did you step in it?
One night, I came home after a long day and, first thing after I opened the door – SQUISH. Just a big pile, right in the foyer. I was stressed out from my day, for sure, but this was just inexcusable. How did no one see this giant pile of puppy shit sitting on the floor? There was just so much. Everywhere. I lost it.
What did you do?
I cursed, of course. I yelled for them both to come downstairs. I didn’t lay into them so much as I did yell about the situation. I started saying things like, “This was a deal between us! You guys said you could be responsible with the basics of owning a puppy, and this isn’t responsible! This isn’t how it works!” I was pretty fired up, but I tried my best to remember, “Okay, they’re kids. But they’re also really smart. I’ll explain this, rather than scare them.” But, every time I moved my foot, that sound and that smell just drove me insane.
What was their collective reaction?
Well, my wife laughed. Thanks a lot, honey. The boys, they didn’t cry, they just sort of stood there like soldiers at attention. They knew they’d fucked up. One thing that made me proud – they didn’t try to throw each other under the bus with “It was his turn! No it was his turn!” They just said, “Sorry, Dad. It won’t happen again.”
Truthfully, it has. But, I think it’s inevitable with a puppy. Puppies crap everywhere. He’s learning, though, and so are the boys. They’re much better about handling the messes since that blow up. So am I.