Ah, the joys of responsible pet ownership. I’m the mother of two boys, yet nothing prepared me for the trials and tribulations of raising a dog. Or two. I changed enough diapers, wiped enough bottoms and got peed on accidentally enough times to make me think I’d be prepared for whatever I might find myself doing with and to an animal, but really, not so much.
We had poodles when I was growing up, fairly small dogs with short hair and manageable size poop. The fact that they only went in the house on newspaper perpetually yellowed and littered with brown nuggets is a topic for another day. That experience somewhat soured me on the idea of owning a dog as an adult, so no matter how much the kids begged me for one, I wouldn’t give in.
Then one day, which happens a lot to me, by the way (see Fear of Flying) my adamant stand against dog ownership vanished and I decided I was ready for a puppy. I was 43, my birthday was coming up, and really, it was all about me for a change. I wanted a tiny dog, nothing that would knock me down or slobber huge quantities of drool all over my designer jeans. Something manageable, cute, lightweight, that I could lift and carry around with me at will. The boys were less than enthusiastic, but I was determined. I wanted a Yorkshire Terrier. They didn’t shed, were happy-go-lucky and cute. I wanted cute.
Baby Son and I made the rounds of breeders, ended up buying one from a nice lady right here in town, and so it began. We were huge Angels fans at the time, and I loved Troy Percival, our ace closer, so we welcomed little Percy into our lives with open arms. Knowing full well that if I didn’t want to breed him or find out he accidentally knocked up some little chihuahua around the corner, I’d have to offer up his little marbles to the veterinary vasectomeer, I sucked it up and took him in. He was young, I told myself, he really hadn’t been attached to them for all that long, he’d get lots of TLC afterwards and he’d never know what hit him till, well, maybe one day if and when he met a studly Great Dane. Anyway, we all survived that episode, but unbeknownst to me, my doggie doctoring had only just begun.
Percy was the love of my life, and a psychotic bundle of perpetual energy who developed skin allergies and an aversion to other dogs and anyone who came within a 2-mile radius of me rather quickly. I’d done a lot of things when my kids were little and sick, but having to inject that tiny dog every day for almost 3 weeks to determine what he might be allergic to was one of the things I’d never believe I could do until I had to. His skin would itch, he’d scratch, it would scab and bleed, and we spent a fair amount of time at the vet’s office. I rubbed him down with special lotions, used hypoallergenic shampoo and conditioner on him every week, kept his coat short, well brushed and fluffy, but he was constantly on cortisone and steroid medication for his condition. Still, I wouldn’t trade my time with him for anything on earth, and when I had to put him down in 2008 after they discovered a cyst on his brain, it was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. I was living alone by then, and I swore I’d never get another dog. That lasted all of a few weeks, and then I got Cooper. From a fabulous breeder in Michigan, who shipped him out on American Airlines at 8 weeks old. Almost totally crate trained, with 2/3 of his shots, and BEST PART? Minus the boys. Male dogs come neutered, thank the Lord for small miracles.
Cooper’s a first generation Puggle- his mom is a beagle and his dad is a pug. Puggles have short, coarse hair and a curly tail. Some of them, like Cooper, have the Pug’s underbite, which makes for some pretty funny facial expressions most of the time, and he is the sweetest, happiest non drooly bigger dog on the face of the earth. For sure. Cooper has some skin itching issues also, so he needs some cortisone shots every now and again, along with a Zyrtec wrapped in American cheese, but for the most part he’s maintenance free, and a lover. Which is why, a year ago, I decided it would be a good idea if I got a little sister for him from the same breeder.
Yikes. Simone is adorable, but she had even more energy than Cooper did as a puppy, and she chewed everything in sight. She was almost 12 weeks when I got her, and WORST PART? Girl puppies come with all their parts, which have to be scooped out of them before they do their little girl becomes a woman thing for the first time. That’s major surgery, involving staples and plastic cones on their head, then for Simone, redone staples and sedatives. It’s hard to keep a good girl down.
Also, Cooper didn’t exactly love her, like I thought he would. She likes to chew his ears, run after him, and entice him to play when he wants to sleep. Welcome to the world of Mars vs. Venus girlfriend.
But, a year and a half later, things have actually calmed down some, and aside from the fact that Simone now itches, scratches and takes cheesy Zyrtec also, I’m thinking I’m doing okay. They both got their rabies vaccinations last week, look Ma, no fleas, they’ve adjusted well to their lack of parts, and probably could enjoy some worry-free hanky-panky (if I wasn’t around to see it) if they wanted to. Life was great, until I noticed Cooper scooting his butt along my bedroom carpet. WTF? What are you doing that for? Who do I call? No one peeps, I just Google it. C’mon, isn’t that what everyone does?
Too much information is not always a good thing. Turns out #1 reason for that activity has something to do with anal sacs. Holy crap, I want nothing to do with this. Isn’t that something they do when they give the dogs a bath? Every few months when I take them for their daily romp at the Bone Adventure? Run wild and free for 8 hours with your doggie friends, then get a nice bath and your anal sacs expressed? That was my understanding anyway.
Ohhhh noooo. This is what they tell me when I call. They just get a bath. You have to ask for that other service. Ask for it? Why would I ask for it? How would I know to ask for it? So let me get this straight. If I’ve never asked for it, and you’re the only ones who would do this procedure, my dogs have never experienced this special service? Cooper is 4. Lord have mercy, I’m lucky he wasn’t wiping his ass on my pillow. Oh, some dogs, especially the smaller ones, do it themselves she tells me, so it may not be as big of a problem as it seems. Do it themselves? How? Where? This conversation is going over the falls in a barrel rather quickly now. Okay, never mind, thank you, I’m calling Petsmart. Which I did on Friday. Scheduled them both on Saturday for the “express” bath. The girl was very understanding and assured me they’d be taken care of. “We’ll call you in about 4 hours to come pick them up.”
Simone was fine, Cooper not so much. The very nice young lady told me she kinda couldn’t find his sacs and maybe I should call the vet in the morning. I’m not even going to relay the rest of that conversation. They give you a groomer’s report card at Petsmart, and when I got home, the note on Cooper’s said: “Cooper’s anal glands were either express on his own or they are compacted. ♥ Shelby” Compacted woulda been so much better than impacted, although luckily, for all concerned, his weren’t. Took him to the vet this morning, and twenty minutes and $37 (more) later, the veterinary tech was able to milk the crap out of my sweet boy.
Doggie doctoring. It’s a tough job, but somebody’s gotta do it.