My dog’s butt is sick

Image result for dog in diapersMy dog’s butt is sick.

At the ripe old age of 11, faced with his first chance at some kind of medical problem, he skipped cancer, epilepsy, hypothyroidism or diabetes.

Francis went with an ill butt.

What started as an intense enthusiasm for his butt, morphed into a licking mania which at one point had me donning Bose headphones so I didn’t have to listen to the slurping, gnashing and chomping. I felt like I was listening in on a one man dog porno entitled ‘Hairy Ass Loving: Bite It Until It Bleeds’.

So I took him to the vet. No one is having that much frenzied sex in my house.

And I was rewarded by an infection. Which turned into a mysterious shape. That turned into the specter of ass cancer which $1400 later turned into a ‘self made body’.

Oh yes. My dog grew a living, growing tumor in his butt that was basically feeding on his ‘output’.

(I still feel faint)

I mentally decided that he needed to live on a farm for the remainder of his life. If it was going to turn into something from  ‘The Thing’ or ‘Alien’ there was no way I was sticking around for that finale. But I was assured it could be destroyed. And without Sigourney Weaver.

So while I eat noodles for the rest of the month, my dog rests his spoiled head on his inflatable collar, sighs on waves of relaxation from his meds, and we both try valiantly to ignore whatever’s going on below the waist.

I’m assured he’ll make a full recovery. My imagination may not.

A life measured out in dog walks

Dog-Walking‘Afternoons will be measured out
Measured out, measured with
Coffeespoons and T.S. Eliot’

Everyone over the age of 35 remembers Crash Test Dummies ‘Afternoons and Coffee Spoons’. And even though the lead singer’s voice makes me feel ever so slightly nauseous and terribly anxious (he sounds like he’s singing at 16 rpm instead of 45), the song is one which sticks in your head. Not only because its catchy and jaunty, but because the underlying message is conversely, so terribly depressing. I always, without fail, picture myself as an old lady in a nursing home cupping endless cups of tea whenever I hear it, and immediately want to craft a DNR directive.

This weekend I found myself unaccountability singing it to myself while walking the dog and replacing the words ‘coffee spoons’ with ‘dog walks’. It didn’t add it its allure, but it mentally helped me change the mental image from one of decay to one of movement and transition.

You see, as a single dog owner, living and working in a 700 sq ft apartment, some days it does feel like my life is measured out in dog walks Yes I work, I play, I watch way too many movies, read, eat and sleep.. but every day is measured out by the three walks my dog gets.

Every morning, every day around 5pm (its my official ‘got to leave the house or I’m officially a hermit’ time) and then again around 8pm. Every single day. For 5 years (so far).

Sure on the weekend’s we’ll hike, we’ll hit the dog park or go camping in the summer, but every day, without fail, on with the leash and out the door.  (him, not me.. I’m safe off leash)

Such is the life of someone without a back or front yard.

Given that every walk is a minimum of a mile, usually 2, this equates to a minimum of 5,460 miles walked since I adopted my dude. That’s only 20 miles short of walking from Denver to Moscow, Russia.

Yes, I do have calves of steel.. why do you ask?

And since each walk takes anywhere from 30 min to and hour or two,  (lets say an average of an hour), this means since 2008, I’ve spent about a solid 7 months just walking the dog.

That’s a lot of time.

I’m not complaining. I love walking my dog. I meet a lot of people.. in fact, I’ve met almost every neighbor within a 4 block radius of my apartment (I know all of their dogs name.. people names, not so much). I’ve walked a path around Wash Park so many times that I notice the really small changes that time and weather brings. The splitting of trees due to a heavy snowfall, the formation of hummus when fall leaves finally get a dose of rain, the first snowdrops and daffodils, and of course, the first true summer day when the sprinklers hit surprised runners (which never fails to make me laugh).

During my dog walks I’ve watched the 5 week nesting of a bald eagle, encountered foxes in the storm drains who hiss at my dogs’s curiosity, seen a coyote jog down the middle of the street, bunnies run down back alleys and encountered more Canadian geese than Canada really needs.

I’ve speed walked away from eery men who made the hairs on my neck stand up, slowed down to watch my dog pointing a squirrel, jogged through every temperature and never, ever skipped a day (polar vortex, what polar vortex? flu? whats that?).

During my walks I usually listen to podcasts. Laughing, learning or just tuning out the noises I don’t want to hear. My yoga instructor thinks I’m perpetually joyful because she often encounters me walking my dog with an inane grin in my face (sorry love, its probably Frank Skinner, not inner peace), and I laugh out loud with some regularity.

(Who knows, there’s probably some other dog walker out there writing about the crazy laughing lady they see every day)

Some days I put in my earphones and don’t turn anything on. Preferring to confer a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign on my walk, without the actual noise of music or talk. During these walks, I might ponder the latest work conundrum, how to make my ever increasing salary fit my every increasing set of needs, or just look at the mountains in the distance and breath in and out.

I chat on the phone to friends, reorder prescriptions, check my email and have even shopping Amazon while walking the dog. I’ve taken conference calls (taking notes while leaning on a tree), mailed packages, grocery shopped and even gone on dates while walking my dog.

Usually though.. its far more relaxing. Just one foot in front of the other. Over and over. Until I’m too tired, too cold, out of time or in need of the bathroom. The dog.. he’d go forever.  He doesn’t care. As long as he’s out sniffing curbs, grass, trees and dog butts, he could care less if I’m curing cancer or breaking up with a boyfriend on the other end of the leash. Whether it takes 30 minutes or 3 hours, he’s perfectly happy to trot along/ lunge for cats/stalk squirrels/ give random dogs the stink eye all while pee gallons upon gallons on every stick, tree and mound of snow he passes. I swear, that dog is 99% pee.  1% stink.

Some people consider it unthinkable to be so tied to an animal, to that commitment of walk after walk, day after day. Those people don’t own dogs, have big yards or just don’t consider dogs to need more than a roof and some food. I am not those people.

Like my dog, I need socialization, exercise and to check out the world every day.. How else to be ‘in the world’ than being outside, in the world. We’re similar, my dog and I. Though I tend to save my peeing for more appropriate places.

My dog – human savior, therapist and all around dumbass

francis reindeerMy dog is not smart. I’ve said it before and will continue to reiterate it.. he’s not smart. Sure, with all that greyed hair and wise eyes he looks like he might be pondering life’s questions, but I know for a fact he’s just trying to figure out if there’s new cat poop under that bush. Mmmmmm cat poop is tasty.

This is a dog who has walked into lampposts on several occasions and finds a blank wall fascinating. Horse manure can send him into a rapture that renders him deaf and blind until he’s wearing most of it and he’s eaten at least 6 smartwool socks in the last 3 years. But only the heels mind. He’s not dumb.

But I don’t have kids so I treat my dog as many parents treat their kids. Which is to say… overindulgence features heavily. During our 5 years together I’ve fed him insanely expensive food, taken him to 1:1 training in and around the metro area, paid for a year of acupuncture (yes really), and walked, hiked and ran him approximately eleventy billion miles. He snacks on lamb and dehydrated steak. This dog visits a dog day care center with a swimming pool every week. His toughest challenge is jumping out the back of my SUV when we get to the dog park (he gets lifted in, of course).  He’s not exactly living a tough life. Am I helicopter parent? Maaaaybe. But hey, its a two way street.

In return I have a faithful companion, someone who offers me comfort after a bad day, and who lies by my side when I sleep.. protecting me from squirrels, cats and all manner of other imaginary foes. No-one has ever been more excited to see me after a day out of the house.  I’m going to skip over the howling that accompanies the UPS truck that he seamlessly times to coincide with a 1:1 call with the CEO. Overall, he’s a great buddy to have around; you can get quite used to power-washing his vomit from the back of the truck after every car ride.

However, after 5+ years together I’ve decided that while he might not be smart, he can get with the program and start earning his keep. He’s done his time, and he needs to go get a job. He’s never going to move out of my house, but I’m sick of him lying around all day snoring, farting and waiting for the next hourly episode of ‘walks in the Wash Park neighborhood’ or ‘throw this, will you?’ while I’m trying to downward dog or facilitate a conference call. My helicopter parenting days are o.ver.

But like many helicopter parents, I know that my dog can’t find his own job. He needs help. Hey, I might even need to help him through the process. It can’t be worse than today’s parents who show up at job interviews right?

So after perusing the options available to him – professional ring bearer, orthodontia model, gusset checker (yep, he likes to eat pantie gussets and sock heels) – I’ve settled on therapy dog. After all, the people in the hospital don’t need to know that those eyes aren’t saying ‘I love you’ (they’re asking ‘where’s the cat poop?’) and he does have a way with that under-bite that seems to make people smile. Plus that dog loves.. loves.. loves to be loved. I know his limitations and lets just go with his strengths. Sitting and being loved.

After some research and talking to people who are already active in the therapy dog world I discovered that a) they’re not as insane as the dog show people and b) even my dumb dog can do it. Apparently all that’s required is the ability to walk around a hospital and be petted. Jeez.. I want that job. This dude lives for ear scratches, belly rubs and even a nonsensical review of profiles so I think I’m hooking him up with a sweet career. He doesn’t even need to wear an uncomfortable suit or hide his tattoos. And since I got him from the Colorado Prison Canine Program he’s already familiar with that whole institutional smell. God knows, no wheelchair or IV stand can freak him out after 3 months in a prison cell with a full face tattoo’d meth dealer. (She’s lovely and she trained him very well. She gets out in 2017).

Of course working will dip into his aggressive sleep schedule. Today he’s been asleep since 8am and its currently 2:17pm (he woke up to fart around noon and conked out again).. so actually staying awake to “work” might be our biggest challenge.. however I’m sure he can nap while being petted. As long as he doesn’t break out the gas – we don’t want to set a ward on fire. But like any helicopter parent, I guess I’ll have to accompany him to his job – you know, make sure that he’s being treated right, that people are respecting him as much as they should and to bask in the reflected glory of having a cute (but retarded) mutt.

When I heard today that we’d be heading off to orientation next month I excitedly described his new role in life over a belly rub and an episode of Ink Master.

‘Dude.. you’re doing to be bringing comfort and joy to others. You’re going to get’

‘You can so totally do this. I know you can. You’re going to be great’

‘They’re going to luuurrrve you’

He sighed, decidedly unexcited by the prospect… and then breathed into my face.

Dead meat and dog shit breath.

So while there isn’t any dress code for this job and he’s not going to need finesse his resume, that dog is going to get his teeth cleaned this week before he starts “work”. I’m not having him sent home for breath like dead neanderthal man. After all, I want him to help and comfort people, not accelerate their demise.

All I need to do is clean his teeth, give him a bath, make sure he doesn’t vomit in the car on the way there, walk into any immobile objects and doesn’t take a dislike to any men in hats with beards.

He’ll be great. Just you wait.

My dog is not smarted than your 6th grader

I hate those stickers. And no, my dog isn’t. And here’s why.

  1. My dog gets car sick before he even gets in the car. In fact, he sees which set of keys I pick up and immediately sits down. I have tried changing key fobs, bringing both sets of keys, but he seems to sense impending car trip and digs in his claws. Seems smart? You’d think. Except my dog has never gone anywhere in the car except fun places. The dog park, swimming, camping, hiking and even Montana. He actively resists getting into a thing that – for him – always results in fun. And I’m forced to carry his 50lb ass down 3 flights of stairs and into the back of the truck. In order to get him out to have more fun. Dumb-ass. 
  2. My dog answers to the following names; Mr.Pickle, Frank, Darling, Stink bomb, Shit head, Fart-pants, Postman Pat, black man, Hairy Pickle and Piglet. His name is Francis.. which sounds like non of these. But every name works, especially if meat products are involved. 
  3. My dog can open my front door, knows when we’re doing laundry (and leads the way), tells me when its 6pm and 7.30pm (dinner, pee time), and can tell when a bath is on the way as soon as I close the backdoor. He also regularly walks into stop signs while looking in another direction and sees every random trash bag as a potential terrorist. Guns however.. doesn’t turn a hair.
  4. He’s afraid of the dark when out camping, but will happily jaunt down Broadway at 4am on his own.  He sits outside the tent as soon as the sun hits the mountains, looking nervously at every twig crack as shadows start to fall, and practically dive bombs the tent in an attempt to escape the dreaded ‘outside’. But Broadway, one of our sleaziest thoroughfares, home to many a crack dealer and most of our homeless after 10pm… nope, he’s headed off on his own for a quick walk on more than one occasion, in search of lord knows what. Maybe he feels affinity for the stinky homeless guys sleeping in the doorways. Either that or he is nursing a crack problem I’m not aware of. 
  5. He starts random races against every other dog. Any dog who walks past us instantly becomes a part of a private race. My dog cannot bear to be ‘behind’ another dog, even if that dog is 1/2 a mile from us and disappearing into the distance in another direction. Cue straining at the leash, gasping for breath and ‘on the spot’ attempts to hang himself. I’m tempted to let him go but I know how many dogs their are in Denver and he’d be across the state line before he judged himself the winner and slowed down. 
  6.  My dog has a wicked under bite and regularly walks around with his lip caught into his teeth. He looks retarded and this perception is not aided by his ability to fall out of his bed (0.005 inches off the floor) while asleep and freak himself out. Nothing like a wild eyed animal who can’t keep his lips and teeth separate. How hard is that??
  7. This afternoon I gave him a tuna can to lick out and the tuna-fish got it stuck on his eyebrows. Which he paraded around with for at least 3 hours.  Maybe he thought he was rocking some Cher falsies, but I think he just couldn’t figure out what the new ‘adorable’ scent was. 

No, my dog isn’t smarter than your 6th grader.

But he’s a lot less annoying and he won’t need to go to college.