My Dog

I am not a dog lover, but I love my dog. A few weeks ago my son and I got into a discussion about how old our little, white Bichon Frise is. I figured he’s three or four, my son insisted he’s older. So I whipped out his doggie birth certificate to prove I was right. Only I wasn’t. My pet is actually six years old. Six years! Where has the time gone?

I still remember when we bought him as a tiny puppy, from a less than reputable pet seller it turns out. He wouldn’t eat, wouldn’t drink, and wouldn’t sleep (alone). Heartbroken and sleep-deprived, I called the vet who said to pamper my pooch with cooked chicken and rice and bottled water. A working mother of three, I rushed to the local superette and purchased what they had available. That night my puppy feasted on boiled Bell and Evans chicken breast (steroid, antibiotic, and hormone free and uber expensive) cut into tiny, easy to chew  morsels, basmati rice, and Poland Spring water. My children ate peanut butter and jelly sandwhiches!

It took all of 48 hours for that little white ball of fur to burrow into my heart. Today, I rarely take a step he doesn’t follow. I’m the favorite, which suits me fine…..unless of course someone in the house is eating….then they become the temporary favorite. My pup is no longer little, which I blame, in part, on the vet. You see, after having a taste of table food at a young age, my dog has a very discriminating palate. He’ll scrounge for people-food day and night, and won’t touch his dry nuggets until he sees how he’s made out at the dinner table. And boy does he love chicken! The vet says my dog has the biggest thighs he’s ever seen on a bichon. It’s because he spends as much time balanced on his hind legs begging as he does standing on all four.

For those of you who don’t have a dog, there’s nothing better than coming home to a bundle of energy who’s bursting with joy at your arrival. (Even after a short walk to the mailbox!) Having a dog is a lot of work, but he works hard for us too: Protecting us from delivery people, alerting us to movement in the yard, notifying us that the garbage is full and needs scavenging   emptying. I love my dog, and can’t imagine life without him.

Do you have a pet you’d like to write about? If so, I’d love to read about him/her.

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  • John Baron
    Posted April 8, 2010 at 7:42 PM | Permalink

    My profile picture is Abby. Really. I'm not actually a cat. No one gets to have all their wishes come true.

    I met Abby in a cardboard box, where she resided with her brother and an army of fleas. The rest of their siblings had found homes, and the owner of the mother-cat, the mother of the little girl who showed the kittens to us, wouldn't allow the box or its contents in her house. What a lesson for her child.

    We took Abby in, but not into the house. My wife and little boy headed off to the store for some anti-flea things. I sat on the cold granite step outside the kitchen door, cuddling the tiny Abby inside my sweatshirt to keep her warm in the chill autumn breeze. That was where we bonded — right there on the stone step.

    Tyler named her after a girl he took a shine to in his preschool. We attacked the fleas as viciously as they attacked her, and while we never won the fight till years later when we moved from Massachusetts to Colorado (where fleas have a tougher time due to the extreme dryness), we made it bearable for her. She was the cleanest cat we ever knew, and we've known a lot of clean cats. Smooth as silk, she was. As she grew, she caught baby bunnies, snakes, birds, and mice; she was a fierce and dedicated hunter. She flew out a second story window once (though not in pursuit of a bird, and she didn't hurt herself). She was always a devoted cat, and always skittish of strangers.

    Toward the end of her life, she lost her hearing, had a bleeding stroke, and then lost her eyesight. But she always had a loving home, and she was never unable to find her food, her litter box, or a sunny spot or warm lap to sleep on. She had a second stroke with violent seizures (poor girl) while sleeping on a chair next to me while I was working at the computer. We elected to euthanize her at that point — she was not herself, didn't know who we were, and was in pain. Tore us up, even though we knew it was for the best. We had her for almost 18 years, and I wouldn't trade a day. Except the last, but the last is what made all the others possible, in a way, isn't it?

    When I think of the pain of loss of a loved and trusted friend like Abby, I'm always reminded of what the fox said to The Little Prince when told they must part: "Ah," said the fox, "I shall cry." This is the price of real attachment, as well as its lingering proof.

  • John Baron
    Posted April 8, 2010 at 8:17 PM | Permalink

    Oops — I didn't mean to give the impression that we never let Abby into the house! It was only until the flea comb / powder / shampoo arrived. She was an indoor – outdoor cat until we started keeping her inside when she got to be about 16.

  • Wendy Marcus
    Posted April 8, 2010 at 10:11 PM | Permalink

    Thank you for sharing your story, John. Your love for your pet is evident. (Even if you didn't let her in the house.) (JK) I'm not a cat person, but I can relate to Abby finding that one ray of sunshine or a warm lap. My dog does that, too.

  • Christine
    Posted April 9, 2010 at 2:36 PM | Permalink

    Hi Wendy: I had a comment all written out and then the computer fairy ate it-anyway, one more try. I have an 18 year old cat named Clancy. We call her the Dowager Feline Clancy. She is very fragile now and I almost lost her a few months ago. But she's still here. The thing is, she's now in this weird "mad cow" stage where she forgets her food bowl is open, meows constantly (and she is soooo deaf!) and is like a bottomless pit on the wet food.

    Silly girl is my annoying little love bug. I know we only bought her another year or two tops, but the fact that's she still here blows my mind. Honestly, I was inconsolable when I took her to the vet a month ago. I couldn't imagine having to put her to sleep and not bring her home to sit on my lap, crawl onto my lap top and basically be my little shadow.

    To pets!

  • Wendy Marcus
    Posted April 9, 2010 at 3:22 PM | Permalink

    Wow! Another cat lover. I've never found cats to be all that cuddley. My husband is a cat lover, and when we first started dating his cat (a female) was very aggressive toward me. One time she scratched me in the face, totally unprovoked. (I swear!) Anyway, I told my then fiance it was the cat or me. He compromised by having her spayed and de-clawed. (She was an indoor cat.) After that we co-existed. (And for the record, they only de-claw the front claws. My husband's cat learned to scratch with the back ones!)

    You'll think I'm terrible (as will John up above) but when the cat got sick and the vet recommended we consider a bone marrow transplant down in New York City, I told him the only thing I'd be considering was where to bury her in the yard. I was kidding of course….really… When she got so ill we had to put her to sleep, I was sad, but only because my husband was devastated.

  • Christine
    Posted April 9, 2010 at 7:27 PM | Permalink

    Wendy, I have two indoor cats and they are declawed. They are living the good life and I don't feel a spec of guilt for doing it. My cat Clancy got extremely upset when my DD was born 15 years ago. She'd poop in front of the baby's door and also peed in my DD's bean bag chair (vinyl TG) later on. I took her to the vet and he said all tortoiseshell cats are nutty and possessive (personally I think all cats are like that–they bond with the "mother' and they don't share all that well). Any rate, we had to put her in the laundry room whenever she did bathroom duty outside of her laundry room litter box. She quickly figured out it was "behave" or live next to the laundry.

    We had another cat who at 14 got a weird cancer and the vets wanted to put her on chemotherapy. I drew the line at that one. She ended living another two years without treatment and died peacefully in front of the fireplace.

  • Wendy Marcus
    Posted April 9, 2010 at 8:37 PM | Permalink

    With my husband's cat, I was quick to refuse expensive treatment to prolong her life. With my dog, however, I can't say what I'll do. I hope I never have to find out!

  • Dale
    Posted April 9, 2010 at 10:18 PM | Permalink

    Another cat lover weighing in. My husband is an equal opportunity animal lover and has had several cats and dogs throughout his life…but I know deep in his heart when we discuss getting another pet, CAT is the only word that comes out of his mouth. We have had 3 cats over the course of our marriage, all with different endearing personalities, and all entertaining, elegant, fanciful felines. Suzie and Al were stray cats that were part of the family I married into. Suzie was the perfect indoor/outdoor cat. She was tough and just cuddly enough. She earned her keep by protecting our plum tree from the squirrels harvesting it in the fall, and stopped all garden snakes in their path by placing her paw on top of them and sunning herself for hours reveling in her conquests.

    Our last cat, Gracie aka kitten girl..aka boo boo girl was a beautiful long haired mixed breed whom we rescued from a horse barn in the fall. She wanted me from 6am-7pm, and then dismissed me for my husband's company in the evening. I loved the way she used to hide behind the leaf of a plant and look at me with one eye like I couldn't see her. She had an unfortunate demise with a run in with a woodchuck. We miss her terribly. There's nothing like the purr of a soft snuggly kitty to warm my heart.

    However, I will admit that Buddy the Bichon has wormed his way into my heart as well, and is deeply loved by his family. He gets lots of attention and I can attest to the fact that Wendy is his preference. When she enters the room he charges for her lap (even if he's already occupying another lap) and instantly settles into a peaceful place. He has an irresistable little face and emanates lots of good energy and love.

    Whether dog, cat, bird, fish….animals are good for the soul!

  • Wendy Marcus
    Posted April 10, 2010 at 12:39 AM | Permalink

    I can tell how much you all love your cats!!! Are there no dog lovers out there???

    Thanks for stopping by, Dale. While Gracie never liked me or my children, she made you happy and I loved her for that. She was adorable from a distance, when I was able to catch a glimpse of her!!!

  • John Baron
    Posted April 10, 2010 at 5:07 PM | Permalink

    Dogs are okay, I know some very nice ones (I always pass by their yards on my walks to see if they're out for a petting, a sniff, and a char), but I don't want to have to take care of one. Unless, of course, it's managed to work its way into my heart. That's not all that hard to do, but a cat can get in there 50 times easier that a dog can. Until last year when I ran out of "free time" I socialized cats at our local shelter. Working with the dogs would have been better exercise, but the cats…. Some days I'd be heartbroken for their plight, but most days they'd fill me up with love.

    Let's hear it for animals of all stripes, shapes, and sizes!

  • Wendy Marcus
    Posted April 10, 2010 at 6:32 PM | Permalink

    I agree! Three cheers for animals of all stripes, shapes, and sizes…..except for woodchucks (they burrow under my front steps and taunt my dog), and deer (they eat my bushes, and flowers and leave unwanted momentos on my lawn).

    And your comment about not wanting to have to take care of a dog plays into my next post!!!

  • Regina Richards
    Posted April 11, 2010 at 7:29 PM | Permalink

    I'm definitely a dog lover. I always tell my kids if they want to keep me away, just get a cat. I'm quite allergic and as much as I love my kids, I also love to breath.

    My dogs on the other hand give me endless joy.

  • Wendy Marcus
    Posted April 12, 2010 at 12:31 AM | Permalink

    I have a bit of a cat allergy myself, although nothing as severe as respiratory distress. I'm sure that's part of the reason I'm partial to dogs…not all dogs…my non-allergic dog, who also gives me endless joy!

  • Shelly Chalmers
    Posted April 12, 2010 at 8:45 PM | Permalink

    Another cat lover here, since my two are my constant companions around the house while I write. I can certainly relate to time flying from when they were so tiny, you were afraid they'd hurt themselves to now, in animal years, they're suddenly older than you! Thanks for another nice blog post.

  • Wendy Marcus
    Posted April 13, 2010 at 12:20 AM | Permalink

    Thanks for stopping by and sharing your cat story, Shelly. When we first brought my dog home as a puppy he fit in two hands, which was small, but nothing compared to a tiny kitten. I'd be a nervous wreck worrying about a kitten!

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