Another good reason to own a dog

Pamela with Kaylee
My mom Cathy thinks she should get a tax deduction for me: my food, treats and vet bills. She points out that I am an asset to her health and her business. I force her to take walks in the fresh air. I insist that we take regular breaks.

And I am her muse and source of inspiration.

Now my mom has yet another reason to believe dogs are good for business. Her business friend Pamela Bruner just wrote a blog post about dogs as motivators.

It seems that Pamela’s dog Kaylee needed surgery to alleviate a painful knee. (You didn’t know dogs have knees? Now you know.) Pamela realized she had a motivation to keep earning higher levels of income, so she would always be able to say “yes” when a vet asked if she could afford the surgery.

Dog surgery doesn’t come cheap. In fact, my mom sighs, there’s nothing cheap about a dog. Walking. Boarding. Feeding. And more.

“If I didn’t have a dog, my life would be simpler,” she says.

My mom’s New York friend Bill always laughs when she says this. He knows she’d have less fun and “you’d be a little old lady who lives with cats.”

Good grief. Imagine life with Ophelia as the main pet. Be thankful for me, mom!

Ouch…we all go to the vet

City dog weighing in at the veterinarian's office “This week is going to be hellish,” my mom said. “So we might as well do everything we all dread.” So she decided to take our feline housemates to get their teeth cleaned. And since I am getting better, we decided I’d get a rabies shot update too.

As usual, I had a good time at the vet’s office. While we were waiting our turn, several other owners commented on what a great dog I am. “So beautiful,” they said. “So well-behaved.” Chloe the receptionist came over to give me a quick massage and tell me , “Gracie, you are such a wonderful dog.”

My mom put me on the scale. I’m down a few pounds. Well, no wonder. If you had to eat that awful bland diet, you’d be a poster child for weight loss too.

Creampuff’s anesthesiaq-free dentistry went swiftly. Ophelia of course was the Drama Queen of the day. She yowled all the way in the cab and made her feelings known in the reception room. Then the vet discovered she has a cavity so she has to come back and get anesthetized. Dr. Clare drew blood while Ophelia loudly proclaimed that she was on her last paws and not long for this world.

Luckily we had no trouble getting cabs each way. My mom gave the drivers big tips. She was so grateful that they took the whole family.

As soon as we got home, Ophelia headed under my mom’s bed. I must admit I couldn’t resist teasing her a litlte. She was waddling around anxiously, as if to say, “Don’t make me do that again!”

“For wahat I pay in vet bills,” the mom said, “I could have a long vacation on a Caribbean beach.”

As Tony Soprano would say, “Fuhgeddaboutit.” Cathy hates beaches. She’s an urban person. She’s happy in Seattle. She needs us.

But just in case, I’m on good behavior the rest of the day….well at leaset an hour.

Dog is under the weather…

…and very nasty weather it is too. We’ve had about 5 days of rain without interruption. My mom misses the desert.

On Monday the vet was open (although there was a holiday) so my mom took me to the vet. Dr. Clare said, “Gracie is not as bright as she was last Thursday.”

True. I was feeling like the world should be one big nap.

After poking and prodding, they stuck needles into me. The diagnosis: It seems I have something called pancreatitis. Expensive but ultimately curable. As a dog, I don’t get into the dollars and cents. But I want to get better and go back to running around, driving the mom nuts and walking with my Aunt Sara. Instead, I am lying on the bed or my mom’s counch. Creampuff just ran over to comfort me. Ophelia has ignored me. No surprise there.

My mom shoves nasty-tasting things down my throat all day long. “I have to give Gracie 5 pills a day,” she told soeone one the phone. “Dogs are worse patients than cats.”

Really? At least I don’t have to be force fed. I nibble at my food and eventually eat it. I like to go for walks. I even try to play with other dogs we meet.

My mom hates being sick. For once, we agree on something.

More rice…

The vet can’t figure out why my tummy is still a little upset. Yesterday we went back and saw the wonderful Dr. Clare of UrbanVet in Seattle. We like the other vets but Dr. Clare is special. She encouraged Cathy to adopt me at once. Otherwise, who knows where I’d be right now?

Hmm….better not go there. Maybe I’d be living with Bill Gates or a family with half a dozen kids to spoil me.

Dr. Clare was very kind, even though she poked me in places that a Canine Urban Princess doesn’t talk about in public. No sympathy from the mom, though.

“It’s your own fault, Gracie,” she said. “You keep getting into the garbage. Your pointy little nose gets into everything.”

Well, why not? Is it my fault the streets are Seattle are filled with leftover food? Especially chicken…yum.

Alas, for awhile, my home diet may be back to rice. I’m not responding fast enough to the pills. Not to worry: I”m very healthy. My coat is good, I’m in great shape and I drink water. My mom says what really has her worried is that I’ve ceded the couch to the fat Ophelia. Now there’s a health problem waiting to happen.

The mom doesn’t want me to make fun of Ophelia, but how can I help it? She even makes funny noises when my mom tries to pick her up.

Guest Post From Molly the Australian Shep Dog Who Had Lupus

Every so often I allow nice dogs to post in my blog. My mom says I have to allow cats to post too, but so far nobody’s asked, thank goodness. Do you have a dog with a story? Tell it to the mom and she’ll pass it along to me. — Gracie

Molly, the 10 1/2 year old Australian Shep, is who I am.

My mom, Carol Giambri, is a health nut who refuses drugs.

I went to one local vet for a drip in my eye, and mom came out told I had lupus possibility and a bad tooth I never complained about. Well, I never complain about anything! Just don’t know how.

My mom tried a holistic vet who actually pushed drugs on us. Well, going from active on an acre of land daily – running my paws off – to almost dead, depressed, constant 24/7 itch, infant socks for a month, taking tons of pills… That was a challenge.

I can relate to what your pill-pushing mom has to go through, but since I am on your side, I can help make the sour taste leave fast. My mom takes pricey grass-fed meat (buffalo, lamb, turkey-hater, beef). She sticks my pill in the middle of the patty. Every so often I can pick out the pill but usually I’m fooled.

My mom is radical so she fusses when she hears the word drugs addressed to anyone in our family. I am now eating veggies grated in my patty too. She fools me. I am taking pricey yogurt (6 ou. $2.39) daily-1 TABlespoon. I don’t know what a pill pocket is but my mom’s way tricks me good.

My mom said I will never take any more meds or do any form of surgery. I’ll be 11 years old next month. I was adopted at 1 from a shelter. My real name was “Lucky,” but the shelter told them I was “Molly.” I was slow to respond. Can you see why? No I jump high when my mom calls “Molly!”

I am finally back outside lots now and I am RECOVERED from Lupus.

My mom is going to write a book about my story. Okay – 3 books maybe: My story, her story tied into relationships, her other story about me and business talk. See how popular I am becoming. Hope we talk soon. I don’t have a site for you to write me a love note, but mom is feeling led to believe it’s coming.

Oh, you are a beautiful dog, Gracie! I see you get on the Seattle Metro Bus. Did you have to pay for a seat?

Bye and with love, Molly, the recovered 10 1/2 year old Lupus dog

From Gracie: Wow, thanks, Molly! You wrote a great post for us. I don’t have to pay for a seat on the bus because I fit in my mom’s lap. I am not allowed to have my own seat and I do not ride on the floor. I am a princess and we don’t do floors.

You have a great mom. I can’t have meat patties because I’m on a special diet for my sensitive tummy. But your mom sounds great. I will tell Cathy to listen. She needs all the help she can get.

Thanks for reminding me I am beautiful. I’m a Canine Urban Princess and my mom is not allowed to forget.

Vet visit a mixed blessing

On the plus side, my food has gotten better. The vet gave my mom some big cans of meaty dog food. “One half can three times a day!” they said.

“That’s a lot of food,” my mom said, but she’s feeling desperate. She hates those late-night trips to let me Do My Business. So I lucked out.

On the other hand, my mom has been shoving these sour-tasting pills down my throat twice a day. She tries to disguise them in something called a “pill pocket.” I may not be literate but I know the difference between a pill pocket and a treat. The vet fooled me into accepting one pill pocket so my mom bought a whole box. I spit out the first one. Now she’s back to prying my jaw open and tossing a pill down, because I am too well-mannered to snap or resist. Biting the hand that feeds you is not my style.

“Worse than giving pills to a cat,” the mom says.

Do I feel better? Too soon to tell. But I’m getting feistier about resisting those pills.

Something To Look Forward To…Not

Mom was on the phone with the vet yesterday. I could tell because I heard my name and as a dog, I get these intuitive flashes about what’s really going on. And it’s not good news. Next week I am supposed to go get my teeth cleaned.

“If your teeth go bad you could get a kidney infection or worse,” my mom said, frowning at me. “And Malari thinks you’ll need anesthesia. And maybe blood tests.”

Anesthesia? No problem. That’s like a big nap, right? But then my mom said, “So Gracie can’t eat or drink after 10 PM? No water? No food?”

Uh oh. Now I’m paying attention.

“Well, I will have to put her in her crate the night before so she won’t have a chance to get into the cat food. I’ll clean up all the crumbs.”

Oh no. My tummy will be making growling noises.

“And Gracie’s dog sitter will come pick her up.” Now finally we get some good news. I adore my Aunt Sara. I’ll have to miss my trip to Magnuson but at least I’ll get to say hello. “Gracie won’t be in shape to go on the bus and some of those cab drivers are a little snippy about dogs,” my mom said. “And she’ll feel better in a familiar car.”

I’ll feel a LOT better when it’s all over and I am back home in front of my bowl of crunchies. I should be grateful I have an owner who gives me vet care but somehow…

WSJ Does It Again: Health Care for Dogs vs. People

My mom thinks the WSJ editors need to take some courses in logic and research. She is still appalled at the way they discussed education in their editorial section. Today the WSJ Weekend features a HUGE story comparing veterinary care with people care.

“See, Gracie,” Mom says, holding up the paper. “Pictures of dogs in the Wall Street Journal. Aren’t they cute?”

Nah. Not as cute as me. Besides, they’re boring breeds, not a one-of-a-kind CUPPIE like me.

“This is nuts,” Mom continued. “What’s new here? Of course dogs get good health care when their humans pay cash for a vet. I shudder to think what I’ve spent on your care, given your sensitive tummy.”

Ouch. This is a sore subject, literally. But mom is being unfair. We haven’t been to the vet for my tummy in six months, probably because that nice Dr Clare at UrbanVet gives Mom a supply of tummy pills that she can use on her own.

“We’re almost out of pills,” Mom says, giving me The Look. “So stay out of the garbage!”

Anyway, the WSJ story seems a little silly, even to a dog. All over the world, people with money will go outside government systems to get good care. Canada doesn’t allow private health care so what do their rich citizens do? They come to the US. They go to the Mayo Clinic.

Pay cash anywhere and you get to choose your medical service, whether you are a human or a canine…or even a feline. I have to remind mom that Ophelia came with her own big stack of vet bills.

Charity vet service? Good luck. My vet told my mom, “Many people wouldn’t have nursed Ophelia back to health when she had liver disease. They would have taken her back to the shelter or had her put to sleep.”

Life without Ophelia? No comment. My mom’s generosity doesn’t extend to visits with the doggie psychiatrist.

Dog turning into a cat

Good grief! Friday evening I started to get sick. My tummy was pounding. So I dragged my mom out half a dozen times. She didn’t get much sleep.

“The vet gave me some miracle pills to nip this in the bud,” she grumbled. “But I ran out.”

So Saturday morning, we were off to the vet first thing. Well, almost. Mom had to do some work on her computer and I seemed to be better.

We saw that nice Dr. Kira. I always enjoy coming when she’s the vet on duty.

But not today. Dr. Kira said, “Gracie is too fat! She should eat 2/3 cup of food, twice a day. And cut back on the treats.”

There goes the neighborhood.

I also have to get my teeth cleaned. And my mom keeps shoving pills down my throat. She refused to feed me last night.

“Your tummy needs a rest,” she said firmly. “And so do I.”

Well, I took matters into my own four paws. Mom was feeling relaxed and happy after hearing the Jupiter Symphony at a concert downtown. We went to bed early.  I curled up on my cushion at the foot of Mom’s bed, like I’m supposed to. But I was hungry.

Mom was so exhausted she didn’t hear me jump off the bed and head for the kitchen, where I polished off all the cat food. Usually she wakes up when I move an inch.

When Mom woke up this morning, I was lying next to her, in Ophelia’s spot, on Ophelia’s cat cushion. Ophelia was pacing around looking disgruntled.

Mom leaped out of bed. “Gracie, you are not a cat! What are you doing here? Oh no…” She ran to the kitchen.

Sure enough. I couldn’t hide the evidence: two empty plates on Mom’s kitchen floor.

“Gracie, either you start sleeping in your crate again or the cats will learn to eat on the counter,” Mom said.

Good luck, Mom. Ophelia refuses to jump. I think that cat is afraid of heights.

Luckily, I seemed fine. Mom took me for a walk. I showed no ill effects of scarfing down two helpings of cat food. Mom is going to take me to the dog lounge, following our usual Sunday routine.

So I’m a mutt…who cares?

Yesterday my mom wanted to take some time for R&R after her gym class. So I spent almost the entire day at the Downtown Dog Lounge with my adopted big sister, Summer, and the other folks who adore me.

“She played in the pen,” they reported when Mom came to pick me up.

“Where does she get the energy?” Mom wondered. I’m not telling.

Then everybody fussed over me on the bus trip home.

“Beautiful dog.”

“So mellow.”

“My dog would never sit like that.”

Of course, my mom has to spoil everything. She likes to tell the world, “Gracie is a rescue mutt. She thinks she’s a princess. Princesses don’t ride on the floor, so she sits on my lap.”

Well, would you want to ride on the floor? Who knows what else has been there? And how would you like being called a mutt?

Actually, my mom Cathy doesn’t mind at all. She hates the idea of classifying people by nationality or ethnic group. “I’m a mutt myself,” she says. “I don’t know anything about my ancestors either.”

My mom is like me in other ways, too.  She resists training and she likes treats. But nobody’s ever, ever complimented her on being well-behaved.

I’m working on it…after my nap.