I am recently returned from Victoria, B.C. where my sister lives and where she was having surgery. My role during this event was to keep her dog happy-ish, to make sure Sis survived the experience and to run the household and do the cooking when she first came home. I think I can safely say that I achieved all of those goals. The dog might not agree, but I’m not consulting her.
Peanut is a rescue dog and a small dog (8 pounds)—both of these conditions mean that she’s not the cuddliest animal, as she seems to be always anticipating mistreatment, accidental or otherwise. But we reached an agreement of sorts: I fed her and made sure she got outside regularly and she eventually decided that I might not be the evil step-sister. By the end of my stay, she would actually wag her tail at me and allow spontaneous caresses.
I admire the dedication of dog owners. They are required to get up in good time, even on weekends, because the dog must go out. If they don’t have a fenced yard, they must get dressed and accompany said dog. And at the other end of the day, there’s no getting into your jammies early and reading in bed—you must stay dressed until the last doggie bathroom opportunity has passed. This is more self-discipline than I can maintain for more than a few days. The inability to have a pajama day about once a month would send me into a tailspin of unhappiness.
Peanut also has health issues that the SPCA knew nothing about. She ended up with bowel and bladder problems that have only been solved by a special diet—one cooked and assembled by my sister. You haven’t lived until you’ve made dog food. It was one of the first required tasks when I arrived in Victoria and we made a double batch just before I came home. The dog eats better than we did—chicken breast, brown rice, peas, various oils and a vitamin supplement. Basically, expensive chicken and rice salad for dogs. However, she has responded to this diet very favourably. The expensive medicated food purchased in the vet’s office had to be tamped down her little throat, but she eats the new homemade mixture willingly (and in fact, with less exercise than usual during my sister’s hospitalization, she’s actually getting a little coating of lard on her ribs on this diet). The best part? No more expensive vet visits. When I owned rabbits, the motto of our household was “No vet bills,” so I completely understand the joy of having solved the problem!
The “game” each morning was to find where Peanut had chosen to hide for the night, extract her from her crevice and get her outside before her teeny bladder exploded. The final morning when it was just the two of us, she finally volunteered to come out of hiding and report to the back door. Breakthrough! That evening, she actually sat with me on the sofa and repeatedly murdered her stuffed squeaky reindeer. There must be a lot of homicidal rage in her small body—the toy died many horrible deaths.
Walkies were another challenge. In the beginning, I had to carry Peanut out of the house, no matter how badly she needed to relieve herself. She would stand mournfully on the back step, refusing to move under her own steam. Eventually, I carried her to the end of the driveway, reasoning that if she wanted back in the house, she would at least have to walk back to the door. On day two, she seemed to realize that this wasn’t just some complex torture scheme that I had developed for her—this was actually an activity to make her more comfortable. Her participation, though not enthusiastic, was at least successful. Happiness can sometimes be a warm dog poop—for Peanut and for me, realizing that I wouldn’t have to clean it off the floor indoors. The bottom line was that she needed to be within sight of the house, in case my sister should suddenly reappear. No long walks allowed.
Once we returned to the great in-of-doors, Peanut would usually deign to eat her carefully prepared chow. I could almost hear her saying to herself, “Well, as long as I’m standing here, I might as well eat this.” She did actually set a record of eating 5 servings before producing a poop—I think her eyes were actually bulging at that point!
Needless to say, we all survived. Dog and owner were joyfully reunited after 4 days and order was thus restored to the universe. Only one doggie accident happened indoors. I had no accidents and have happily returned to a dog-free existence. Life is good.