responsibility makes me pathetic

This is an old story and I probably should have shared it earlier, but.. I didn’t. And I will now because the object of this story has been alternating between pawing at me, nudging me, trying to stand on me, and wedging her horrible claws into the delicate spaces between my toes.

Josie must hate my feet, as much as she steps on them. Of course, she leaves big red welts from her claws. I am not allowed to clip her claws.

As is the done thing with puppies, when Josie turned about six months old I had her spayed. I have handled plenty of spays before, and other than the awkward silence and “well, ONE of us has to rub the ointment into the incision on his THERE” with the Lab-Chihuahua mix, no sterilization has ever gone awry.

But Josie is always special.

I brought her in for the surgery bright and early; as a precaution with anaesthesia I’d kept her NPO since her dinner the evening previous.

Nil per os. Nothing by mouth.

So in we went, Josie and I, and I conspired with the techs. “Can you clip her nails while she’s under?” I asked. Because that’s the only time anybody can do it.

Josie will not be having with people removing her attack talons. She uses them to color on me. I look better in red, apparently.

I left the place content that I would come back to a muzzy stoned dog with an incision in her belly and wonderfully short claws. That afternoon I did things, I can’t remember what. Something with the car, maybe? It wasn’t important.

When I came back to retrieve my pup, I brought my camera because everybody wanted to see Stoned Josie. Here you go.

cone of shame

Yep. She’s aces at peeing on the floor — or was, at the time. As adorable as she was I like her better large and housebroken.

We toddled carefully through what I suddenly realized was a very large pet store, me leading her encouragingly and Josie weaving like the cutest littlest town drunk. People seeing this smiled and laughed. To prove how out of it she was, Josie did not demand attention from any part of her rightful audience.

We made it out of the store, when Josie had a problem. She’d completely forgotten everything about her entire life. She had no idea who she was, where she was, who I was, what was going on, what we were doing, and how her body was assembled.

where iz body?It took a while to remind her that she had legs.

not like carDriving home was also difficult.

Once we got home I gave up and carried her inside, where she slept off the anaesthetics and awoke herself once more: spring-loaded and determined to undo everything I create.

Two days later I brought her back because her incision had become inflamed. We went home armed with antibiotics and dire instructions for me to Keep Her Out Of It. I was baffled, because she’d been kept properly coned the entire time — if I’d managed to take the damned thing off I’d never get it back ON — and it took some careful observation before I figured out the trouble.

Josie was trying to remove her stitches by scratching with her hind feet. That should be anatomically impossible, but — this is Josie. Impossible is her bag.

Thus it was that to keep the incision fully protected from Josie’s blunted but still fearsome talons, I rigged up a wrap made of a loose ace bandage and a maxi-pad, cut in half, to cover the incision and prevent it from injury.

Imagine it, one steamy Florida morning: late summer, humid as dog’s breath. The butterflies and lizards lie quiet in the lianas, waiting for the heat to strengthen. Josie and I slip out into the front yard, where the stairs are smaller and easier for her. I am in my pajamas and my hair probably resembles a discarded Harryhausen sketch of Medusa. My dog has a cone on her head, a leash around her neck, and an ace bandage around her surprisingly tiny waist, holding what is obviously half a maxi-pad.

Down the street walk two people, out to enjoy the morning with their two dogs. All four look wonderful. The people are well-dressed, coiffed, put together. The dogs, a pair of Pits, have gleaming coats over wonderfully thick muscle, and walk beautifully on leash.

I see them.

They see me.

“Oh god,” I say.

They laugh, but gently. “Oh, we’ve been there.”


the ear glop of doom

Sometimes when you take your pet to the vet it’s like a modern re-enactment of a Herriot story: everyone is confident and capable, the animals are charming, the treatments are easily handled, and everyone laughs happily when the pet does something cute.

The rest of the time when you take your pet to the vet it’s like a modern re-enactment of the other Herriot stories: someone gets injured, there’s mysterious muck everywhere, nothing happens the way it should, and the laughter is forced if anyone even tries because what the hell a puppy should not do that.

Josie’s vet visit last week was the second kind, unfortunately, starting with some other dog bleeding on her on its way out of the groomer, and going downhill from there.

I like to think that if Danes could talk they would sound like Andre the Giant. "Hello!"

I like to think that if Danes could talk they would sound like Andre the Giant. “Hello!”

But we did meet a sweet and beautiful Great Dane, which makes up for a lot of trauma and drama. (Note: Josie has a tail. When she gets really excited it becomes invisible from wagging.)

Everything that could go wrong in an exam did. She flipped out and turned into a Feral Hellbeast when they tried to clip her claws. They tried taking her into the back, because sometimes the fight goes right out of a dog when the owner is not in the room. No dice; I heard her from the exam room. It sounded like someone was wrestling with an angry Jawa. They came out defeated and removed the claw-clip from the bill. The temperature and fecal loop somehow released a bad rawhide-induced case of splatterbutt all over the floor.

I asked for a microchip to be installed, although they recommended doing it during the spay while she would be unconscious, because I felt worlds of uneasy with an unchipped puppy scampering around. Besides, I reasoned — and explained — I’d had plenty of dogs chipped during exams and they all took it fine, even Buster of the Terrible Howling. That.. that didn’t go so well either, though they got it in once they reassembled the needle. The ear exam went well, as far as damage or befoulment, but it turned out the pup’s got a yeast infection in her ears.

I’m sure they were happy to see the back of us, leaving armed with a paper bag full of printouts and otic medication.

There were two medications: one small foil tube of ooze that is to be squeezed deep into her ear, and then one big bottle of stuff that smells like vinegar and artificial apple scent, which I figure is supposed to mask the vinegar but doesn’t do it at all.

I figured that, at least, would be okay; I’ve had to dose many a dog’s ear (and cat’s too) in my time, and aside from the inevitable bit where they shake it off and get it in my eye or up my nose, there’s never been a real problem.

Not so, said little Josie. She’d been prodded, asculcated, injected multiple times — kid, I didn’t say while they were chipping her, but I was thinking this, kid I’ve had bigger needles put through my ears and I didn’t yell about it — and, of course, the indignity of things being put up her butt. Josie wanted revenge.

I thought it would be so easy. Flip her ears up, hold her head, squirt glop into each ear, flip ears back down, massage to get it deep into the inner workings of her recording apparatus. Nope. Josie did her rabid Jawa impression again. I think it was fear or panic, not pure I KEEL YOU aggression; once I backed off she was calm and contrite, licking my fingers, licking her nose, rolling her eyes away to placate me, flattening her ears, pawing at the air, making herself small while edging near me for comfort.

Here’s the weird thing: I can put my hands in her ears up to the shoulder and she doesn’t care. I can swab in there with cotton balls until I am massaging her little peanut brain and her eyes roll back in her head because it feels good. But a bottle — or a foil tube — with an applicator, that makes noises? Panic. Biting, clawing, snarling, weasels-in-a-sack panic.

The worst thing you can do with a scared dog is escalate, so brute force was out. I had to get tricky about this. I needed a pleasant way to distract her while I deftly put the glop in her ears. This way she would learn that otic medicine is not the end of her life, and also that it comes with some kind of delicious reward. Hopefully, I thought, it would desensitize her to the feeling until I could dig around in those ears with salad spoons if I wanted.

I don’t know about that last part, yet, but I’ve hit a system that works. I will detail it here.

1. Get good sized glob of peanut butter out of jar with right pinky finger.
2. Close jar while puppy climbs on me; prepare Remicin for quick deployment.
3. Smear peanut butter all over roof of Josie’s mouth. The more it’s spread, the more she has to work on it.
4. With pinky outstretched like I’m making tea, grab Remicin tube.
5. Grab/scruff pup with left hand.
6. Ninja-dose her ears with Remicin while she works on the NOM NOM PEANUT BUTTER DELICIOUS OM NOM NOM.
7. Put cap back on Remicin—
7.1. Retrieve cap from puppy.
7.2. Stop puppy from licking peanut buttery hands.
7.3. Stop puppy from licking Remicin tube because it goes in the ears and not in the mouth, dummy.
7.4 Put cap back on Remicin, put it and peanut butter jar away.
8. Give up and let puppy lick my whole hand up to the elbow just in case she missed any of the peanut butter that was only ever on my little finger.
9. Wash. Thoroughly.
10. Rub puppy’s ears which create the most delightfully nasty icky-squishy noises. She likes that part. MMM. EARSQUISHY.
11. Wash hands again because that stuff gets everywhere.

The good news is that now my bathroom, bedroom, and kitchen are now protected from otic yeast infections.  The bad news is that my deck smells like fake green-apple douche.

You're lucky you're so cute, kid.

You’re lucky you’re so cute, kid.

my dog ate my dignity

One thing I have always believed to be true: one cannot have both dogs and dignity. It’s impossible. You have to decide between one or the other. Dogs have no self-consciousness, but going beyond that, they do not even know what it is. So they assume you don’t have any, either.

My dogs ate my dignity years ago. Decades. In my childhood, when they ate my three foot long realistic plastic alligator (and I am still sore about that.) I didn’t have much dignity to begin with, so it’s okay, and the fun of dogs makes up for it.

Now that the Florida heat is starting to set in, early evening is the best time to take Logan for walks. He has the back yard for excretion and digging holes; the walks are exercise for both of us. They’re leash training, too. Unfortunately, everyone else knows this is the Nice Outside Time as well, and as a result, I run into a fair number of people.

About two houses away from home, Logan spotted a small stick on the sidewalk. He picked it up, shook it, played a bit with it. I laughed at this, as I do, because Logan is hilarious. He took this for encouragement and trotted along, happy as can be, with the stick in his mouth.

We passed many people. There was a woman bringing in a sprinkler from her front yard. She didn’t give us much of a glance, but she did scold her dog (I couldn’t see it) for barking as we passed by.

Further on there were two guys, nineteen or twenty, Too Cool For Life, fiddling with a lawn mower at the end of their driveway in the most James Dean Careless Testosterone-ful way possible. Logan and I detoured around a car that was parked on the sidewalk, putting us closer to The Two Dudes. Logan trotted along, happy as a dog can be, because I’M ON A WALK and I HAVE A STICK! I followed along, every aspect of my bearing saying my derpy dog is fucking awesome, comprende? The Two Dudes stared, not entirely sure of what they were seeing.

… I get that a lot.

Past the halfway point I decided that Logan would keep this stick for the whole walk, no matter what. If he dropped it to look at something else, I’d kick it along the ground, or pick it up and have him jump for it. If I made it a desirable object, by having it when he didn’t, he would want it very badly and do anything to get it from me.

We passed the House With The Sighthound — Whippet or Greyhound, I don’t know, just that it is brindle, has a pink collar, and barks maniacally whenever anyone turns that corner. Logan kept his stick firmly, though his hackles went up a little. He’s still uneasy about being barked at.

We tromped through the backlots and field, occasionally playing Who’s Got The Stick, happy as could be because we were a girl and her dog (or a dog and his girl) out on a walk, with a stick, on a nice day, and nobody bothering us.

We turned a corner and spotted another man walking a dog. I hadn’t seen him before. Logan, stick clamped firmly in his mouth, stopped and looked at this new dog.

“Which way you headed?” the guy asked, holding back. The dog, about Logan’s size but stockier, Lab and something, looked bored.

I pointed. “Thatway.” Logan decided that he and his stick wanted to visit, and moved towards the man and dog.

“I don’t know about this one,” the guy said. “She’s not my dog. We met another lady the other day and…”

“Oh, he’s friendly,” I said, which is what I generally say well in advance when I encounter someone while I have my dog. “He likes other dogs.” I looked at Logan, who held his stick firmly and eyed this other dog as if to say, I have a stick, don’t you want it? “He, uh. He likes…. sticks.”

“This is my friend’s dog,” the guy repeated. “I’m walking her for him.” Thus proving that he was not only too cool for dogwalks, but also too cool for me and my goofy dog and my goofy dog’s stick.

I nodded and off we went, Logan and I, past a house where a whole family were arguing with each other in and around a car with all its doors open. A teenaged girl, also Too Cool For Life, stared critically at us before returning her attention to the discussion.

Sometimes ya just can’t win for trying. But who cares, when you have a dog and your dog has a stick, and it’s a nice evening for a walk?