Tag Archives: dog

Where Am I Going?

1 Nov

My last ex-husband’s mother had dementia. As the person who handled most of her issues, I know that the disease can be both heart-breaking and hysterical, sometimes at the same time. Sometimes she’d recognize me and call me by the lovely nickname she’d assigned me when we first met, “You little tramp.” Perhaps she thought I was Charlie Chaplin? Other times, she thought I was a friend from long ago and hound me for cigarettes. She had a gerontologist with the poorly chosen last name of Dr. Butt and while sitting in his waiting room, she launched into a song I believe must have been titled “Dr. Butt is a Butt.” I laughed, I cried, I claimed not to know her while helping her into the exam room.

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My 15-1/2 dachshund Justin has dementia now and the roller coaster of emotions has returned. Every day I am so grateful that we have been blessed with all this time together… even if I do spend most of my time rescuing him from behind doors and under the clothes rack. (If there’s a spot a 26-lb. dog can possibly fit in, I will eventually find him there.) I lovingly turn him around and ask him where it is he’d like to go. The answer is usually, “To the kitchen next to the counter with the cookie jar.”

I feel like the mother of a toddler–obsessed with making the house safe for my wandering child. I have a small metal and glass bookshelf that he loves to walk through. It’s now wrapped with Saran Wrap. There are boxes between the furniture and walls to keep him from getting stuck behind the sofa or end tables. Yesterday, I bought two body pillows to put next to the bed (which is on the floor, but still taller than a wiener dog’s legs) so that if he wanders off the bottom at night, he’ll fall into something soft. Apparently they don’t make bungee cords short enough to help with our specific problem.

Justin does a lot of roaming. If he were a person, I definitely want to keep him on a leash–fortunately he’s a dog and no one thinks it weird when I do. As a result of all the walking, he’s remarkably fit. I thought about strapping a pedometer on him to see just how far he goes every day, but I know him well enough not to even try to put something on his collar.

Fortunately he’s still having a good enough life that I know it’s not his time to go. He loves to eat, knows where the cookies are kept, licks his sister good morning, runs home from walks, and snuggles next to me at night in bed. Sadly, I know his time is coming someday soon. In the meantime, it’s my job to rescue him from behind the elliptical machine and point him in a happier direction.

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My Sunshine Has Sundown Syndrome

13 Jun

Justin, my 15-year-old dachshund, has Sundown Syndrome. It’s a form of dementia that occurs after dark. Once the sun sets, he frequently gets lost and runs into things… much like a drunk frat boy on a Friday night.

ImageFortunately, I found an herbal remedy for him. No, it’s not marijuana, although we did try that first. Do you know how hard it is to hold a joint in tiny little paws? And the one command you can’t teach even the most obedient of dogs (which he is NOT) is “Inhale!” It doesn’t matter how many cookies you use as bribes.

The concoction we’re using is called Senilife, a combination of Senile and Life. Wouldn’t you have loved to have been in that branding meeting, what with all the high levels of creativity sparking in the room?

The good news is that it really works well. He has a lot fewer episodes of seeming to be out of it. He and I are about on the same level now when it comes to being confused and wondering where we left either our keys or our stuffed hedgehog. You can buy the stuff on-line. It’s a capsule that you squeeze on top of your dog’s evening meal. There is also a cat version (do not tell my doxies, I brought that up!)

In fact, the little pill works so well I caught myself looking at the bottle the other day, wondering, “Are these just for dogs?” But then I noticed the side effects — squirrel hatred, motorcycle leg, excessive drooling… Side note, is there ever a time when drooling is not excessive? But I’m not going to take them. It’s not that I’m scared of the side effects; it’s just that I put a plan in place years ago to make sure no one would ever be able to tell when I cross the line from “normal crazy” to “she needs help crazy.” You show up at Thanksgiving dinner wearing a ski mask and an inner tube a few times when you’re still young and you set the bar pretty low.

Besides, my only kids are dogs and they would never put me in a home.

Is Your Dog a Diva?

9 Jan

ImageThe other night I was browsing through a pet catalog when one of my dachshunds, Penny Royal, planted her paws firmly on my knee and gave me that look that clearly said, “The bottled water in my bowl has been depleted. Please take care of this situation before I have to have my people call your people.” In that moment, I realized she has become a diva. Her brothers Justin and Watson are the male equivalent – is there such thing as a miva?  

When I say “diva,” of course I don’t mean a famous female singer, because while Penny can howl a good tune, no one would mistake her for Celine Dion. And the boys? Well, let’s just say they’re tone deaf. What I mean by “diva” is someone who expects the world to revolve around her (or him). There’s at least one in every household, and if your household doesn’t currently include teenagers or cats (all cats are divas), chances are it could be your dog.  

If you want to know whether your dog is diva take this quick quiz (note, you may insert “he” where I’ve used “she” if the dog collar fits):

1. Where does your dog sleep?
    a.    On the floor.
    b.    On an orthopedic dog bed on the floor.
    c.    Under a handmade afghan on an orthopedic dog bed on the floor.
    d.    On your bed. You sleep under a handmade afghan on an orthopedic dog bed on the floor.

2.  At dinner time, do you:
     a.    Pour dog food from a bag into a plastic bowl.
     b.    Spoon canned food into a ceramic bowl with your dog’s name on it.
     c.    Set a place at the table for your pooch.
     d.    Hand feed your dog a meal you prepared yourself, making sure each bite is exactly the right size and temperature.

3.  What is your dog currently wearing:
     a.    Nothing but a smile.
     b.    A dog collar and ID tags.
     c.    A monogrammed collar with a 24-carat gold bone-shaped tag that says “Spoiled Rotten.”
     d.    A t-shirt that says “Whatever!” in sparkles.

4.  When you go out of town do you:
     a    Have a friend watch your dog.
     b    Hire a pet sitter.
     c.   Go out of town, what are you, crazy?
     d.   Carry your dog in your purse wherever you travel. So what if she’s a Golden Retriever?

5.  What is the highest level of education your dog has received:
     a.   Basic obedience training.
     b.   Advanced obedience training.
     c.   Charm school.
     d.   Modeling school.

6.  What are your dog’s favorite colors?
     a.   She doesn’t have favorite colors, she’s a dog.
     b.   Anything that matches her hair.
     c.   Pink and black.
     d.   Turquoise. Pink and black is soooo 2009.

7.  When it comes to beauty and hygiene, which is your dog’s usual routine:
     a.   A quick spritz with the hose.
     b.   A bath in the tub.  
     c.   A day at Ms. Fifi’s Pet Grooming Boutique.
     d.   A salt scrub and cucumber facial with you at your favorite spa.

8.  Which of the following is your dog allergic to:
     a.  Wheat.
     b.  Peanuts.
     c.  Cashmere.
     d.  Caviar.

10.  Which comes closest to the nickname you usually call your dog?
     a.  Hey, you.
     b.  Sweetie
     c.  Ma’am.
     d.  Queen of All Things.

11. Describe her last birthday:
     a.  I completely forgot it.
     b.  I bought her an extra chew toy.
     c.  There was a cake, ice cream, and a pony.
     d.  The harpist was five minutes late and I’ll never live it down.

12.  When she’s feeling really stressed do you:
     a.  Pet her a little more than usual.
     b.  Encourage her to take a nap.
     c.  Hire a massage therapist to work out her muscle tension.
     d.  Feng shui the house to improve the doggy chi.

13.  What do you take to work to keep your dog in your thoughts during the day:  
     a.  Dog hair on everything.
     b.  Her photo in my wallet.
     c.  A joint checking account we share.
     d.  Her other tiara.

If you answered mostly “A’s,” you’ve managed to raise a dog who believes she’s a dog.  There is a twelve step program for that, you know. Mostly “B’s” means you and your dog are well-adjusted.  Neither of you will be needing a therapist soon. Mostly “C’s” indicates that your dog is on her way to diva status, so you might as well encourage her to go for it. If you chose mostly “D’s” without shame or guilt, you’re the mother of a true Diva Dog. You know who is in charge and you can say without a doubt, it’s not you.

Puppy Love

29 Dec

I first fell head over heels in love in 1984. He had red hair and brown eyes and my heart skipped a beat at the mere thought of him (and that was well before my mitral valve issues). Two weeks later, I fell in love with his brother too – a dark-haired hunk whose zest for life was infectious.

So I took them both home.

We were quite a threesome, my first two dachshunds – Copper and Slate – and I. And in the years since there have been four more – Maddy Lou, Justin, Penny, and Watson – about whom I have felt just as giddy. So, in honor of the New Year and starting it off on the right foot, I thought I’d write about true love of the canine variety. Puppy love, if you will.

There are some people who think that true love is romantic in nature. But according to an online dictionary (we know it must be true if it’s online, right?), “romantic love” is when the chemicals in your brain kick in and you experience an emotional high, exhilaration, and elation whenever you and your love are together. That doesn’t just happen between humans. I dare any scientist to take a blood sample to see just what chemicals (besides caffeine and chocolate) are surging through my veins when I come home and my wiener dogs wag their tails and do their “We Love Her So Much We’d Almost Even Give up Chasing Squirrels for Her” dance.

It is important to show our love to the humans we can’t live without by letting them be right occasionally and remembering that liking them on Facebook is not enough.

But we owe our doggy loves even more. Talk about unconditional love – nothing my dogs do truly irritates me. Penny can piddle on the floor right in front of me because it’s raining outside and she prefers to be dry, and as hard as I try to be annoyed with her, I am still overwhelmed by the same rush of love I felt that day I adopted her from a rescue organization and she crawled into my lap as if to say, “Well, it took you long enough!” Watson can growl at me if I try to take away whatever stuffed animal he is busy unstuffing, but I just kiss his snout and say, “Oh, you don’t really mean that.” Justin can stand on my trachea at 4:07 a.m. because he’s decided that despite what the clock says, it really must be time for breakfast. As sleepy and grumpy as I usually am at that time of morning, I’ll still call him “Dog Muffin” as I’m serving up his kibble in the wee dark hours of the morning.

By the way, standing on someone’s trachea is an excellent way to wake them up. As long as you’re under 25-lbs.

It is difficult, however, to find the perfect way to celebrate love with a four-footed friend. Even I have a hard time – and I once threw Maddy Lou a debutante party to which my best friend Rhonda wore a hoop skirt and presented Maddy Lou with her own bone china tea set which I still have in my hope chest. I can’t imagine how much trouble it is for those of you who don’t have my party-organizing skills.

A candlelit  dinner for dogs is a little over the top. Not to mention that I really shouldn’t be allowed around an open flame. Or a stove. Greeting card companies make  cards from the dog (“I love you… despite the fact that you feed me all your peas and then blame me for the consequences”), but not TO them. That’s a darn shame if you ask me. And although I’ve been known to dress my dogs up coats and sweaters, doggy lingerie is a little too kinky even for me.

There are boutique pet stores in town that carry carob-coated doggy treats shaped like little hearts, but I know what my dogs really want – besides some table scraps that don’t consist primarily of tofu and brown rice. What they truly want to show them how much I love them is for me to sit on the couch for twelve straight hours without moving a muscle – no laughing, no blinking, and no breathing so deeply that my stomach goes up and down and interrupts their naps. They want me to be their  hostage. And that’s what they’re going to get. I’ve been practicing motionlessness and shallow breathing for a week now and will have it down pat by the time 2013 rolls around.

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