I have had Dolly now for about six months. I can’t say that I immediately fell in love with her. She is sort of an anxious old girl — my man stayed with her alone for a weekend recently when I had to travel, and he told me she deeply depressed him. I believe the direct quote was: “I think I’d eventually blow my brains out if I had to spend a lot of time with Dolly.” I was immediately defensive, which is when I knew that, in fact, I loved Dolly. Yes, she is anxious and fretful. Sometimes she lies on her bed not sleeping, her brow furrowed in worry, staring off into space fretfully. I don’t deny it can sometimes be disconcerting. However, she’s a shelter dog, and I think she is probably heartbroken due to losing her family, and so she likes to keep an eye on us at all times to make sure we’re not going away. Either that or she is truly mental.

She also apparently has quite a memory. In recent weeks, I have been taking her off-leash in the park right next to my house so she can run around with other dogs. She is getting fat, so the running around was good for her. But one day, a nice old guy was hurling tennis balls for his border collie, and one of the balls hit Dolly hard right in the head. Her reaction was heartbreaking and hysterical at the same time. She literally burst into tears and ran home, crying the whole way, as I remained in the park laughing my head off but running after her to comfort her at the same time.

It happened a month ago and to this day, she will not set foot in that park. I try to pull her into it, but she stands her ground, refusing to budge. The man with the border collie didn’t throw that tennis ball at her head — in Dolly’s mind, the park threw that tennis ball at her head, and she will never forget it.

I wonder what other things she has not forgotten, and how much that has to do with her anxiety.

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On point as usual, The Onion had an article in January called “Cat Refuses to Die” that was both amusing and wince-worthy in its familiarity.  I emailed it to my mom and suggested a blog post recounting our own history of the more ridiculous medical shit we’ve been through with our animals, saying that I thought it would elicit comments.

She wrote back, “Yeah, the comments this will get are that we are crazy people.”

Certainly some people would find the amount of time, money, and energy invested in our pets’ care to be shocking.  Tallying it up is sobering, especially as we’ve only had standard house pets – think about people with horses or exotic animals, who probably spend a fortune in care and maintenance.  With that perspective, our kitty hospice and doggie rehab shouldn’t seem so absurd…

In a house of Responsible Pet-Ownership, we, like many other people, often found our good intentions stretched to extraordinary measures, and often with extreme grossness and expense.

There was our much-beloved Yonkers and the Blood Parasite in the late ‘80s that cost over $2500 to treat (about $4600, according to an inflation calculator).  He spent two weeks in the feline ICU, and we made more than one “final visit.”  Miraculously, Yonkers was eventually discharged with a feeding tube punched through the back of his neck to his esophagus; for feeding, my mother would blenderize cat food, uncork him, and inject it into his neck with a syringe.  He made a full recovery and went on to eviscerate many more lizards, in his day. (more…)

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And this is her. She is from a shelter in rural Virginia. Doesn’t she look like she just stepped off the set of “Deliverance?” And yet she’s a big silly doofus. We named her Dolly because it’s just such a ridiculously appropriate name for the goofball. She is respectful of my cats to an almost humiliating degree; she literally bows down to them when they walk by. Even they seem embarrassed for her. They tell me she is six, but I think she’s younger given the goofy puppy behaviour she’s been exhibiting in the three days since we’ve had her.

To whit:

1. She has totally ripped through a brand-new box of Tampax, apparently just for entertainment purposes, and strewn them all over the house.
2. She has huge feet that she trips over.
3. When you take her for a walk and you want to go in the opposite direction from where she wants to go, she just lies down on the pavement and rolls over on her back.
4. Ditto when she runs into kids. She melts into the pavement in bliss.
5. She is a hog who is obsessed with food. Tonight I caught her practically inside the dishwasher licking plates and utensils. I have also twice caught her on her hind legs trying to get stuff off the counter. She succeeded once and had a bag of coffee in her jaws that I pried out.

In short, she is a funny hound dog who makes us laugh. Even the cats seem amused by her, and they’ve never been around a dog. Dolly just gives up a big mellow goof vibe, despite what sounds like a hard life — heartworm infection, a hunter who mistreated her, a burn mark on her side, a miserable rural life. She’s living on Easy Street now.

A lot of us are looking for something to nourish, to love, to attend to, and it’s a natural compulsion that grows stronger as we age.  It’s something I think about in my late-twenties: to what, or who, do I want to come home?  When I trudge back to my flat after a long day at the office, what do I have to look forward to?  At some point in your life, you make a choice about what’s going to be waiting for you when you open your front door.  Here are some of the options, as I see them:

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In the interests of inclusivity, I queried a few close male friends for their thoughts on safe sex, in a non-Cosmo way. The general response has been a little lackluster – HMMMM. However, my buddy Golddigger has come through with a couple of things that seemed worth mentioning. The first “naked and famous” opinion is this:

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