The New York Times ran a story today about a Labradoodle who serves as combination service dog and psychiatric aide. They said the Veterans Admin will spend $300 to study the impact of service dogs.
Save your money, Dogs are natural psychiatrists. I personally keep my owner, Cathy Goodwin, sane and motivated. Without me, who knows how she’d spend her time? Would she get out of the house and do things if she didn’t have to walk me? Would she go to bed early if I weren’t waiting for her?
I am a natural social worker. I go up to strangers on buses. I snuggle up to strangers sitting on benches on the street. People pat me when they want a dog fix.
And while I may be a princess, I’m not a high-priced breed by any means. The government can save its money. There are dozens of wonderful mutts like me. If I can keep my owner in line, any dog can do anything.
My mom has a friend named Bill who lives in New York. They’ve only met once or twice but they talk on the phone a lot.
Bill has lived with dogs all his life so he has become my mom’s advisor on dog care. I wish she’d listen more. My mom cuts my rations when the vet or the dog walker says, “Gracie’s getting a little chunky around the middle.”
Bill would just laugh. His dogs get LOTS of treats. They get lots of company because Bill works at home two or three days a week. They share his blueberry muffins. They get visits to the doggie cardiologist, doggie neurologist, doggie ophthalmologist and (I suspect) doggie psychiatrist.
My mom says if she dies unexpectedly, I can go live with Bill if Summer doesn’t take me. I’m not complaining, even though Bill says, “I really like big fuzzy dogs.” From a certain angle, with enough treats in sight, I can look big and fuzzy.
Bill adopts elderly golden retrievers. He just adopted Murray, a 9-year-old who was pulled out of a shelter by a retriever rescue group. Murray joins another golden retriever of the same age. Murray’s settling in fine. Who wouldn’t? Bill’s house is Dog Heaven.
My mom Cathy is still celebrating Ophelia’s recovery from liver disease. If you are just joining us on this blog, Ophelia’s the cat on the right – the fuzzball approximately the size and shape of an aircraft carrier, seen from above.
“After force feeding that wretched cat for 5 long weeks,” Cathy says, “at least Ophelia turned out to be really special. She’s loyal and loving.”
The cats are getting along with each other. Every so often we hear screams and cries, but Cathy says that’s a good sign. “At least they’re showing some interest in each other,” she says. “Nothing worse than a bored cat.”
Except a dog who’s getting bored with all the cat talk. Time for a walk, Mom.
My mom just read me a story about a banker who lost her job. She couldn’t find a corporate position so she started walking dogs. You can read the story here.
Here’s what she wrote: “…I get so much gratification from walking dogs. They’re so appreciative of the simplest things you do for them. No matter how bad my day may be going, when I walk into a home and the dog is so happy to see me and gives me kisses, it puts a different spin on the day.”
I know just what she means. When my Aunt Sara comes to take me for a trip to Magnuson Park, I jump up and down. Aunt Sara tells me to sit so she can put my leash on but I am so excited! Dog walkers are saints in my book.
More people should be dog walkers. My mom says we need cat groomers even more than dog walkers. She was hoping to find a mobile unit to groom Ophelia. Finally she gave up and just ordered a new comb. She’s become quite the do-it-yourselfer these days.
My mom Cathy never gets sick. She’s tough! But Saturday evening she started feeling wretched. We all went to bed and slept…and slept.
She woke up Sunday morning and thought, “Time for exercise class.” Then she took me out for a walk (thank goodness!) and staggered home.
“Not today,” she told me, shaking out a few crunchies so I wouldn’t starve.
Here’s where I earned a year’s supply of crunchies and treats. I snuggled up next to my mom and didn’t budge. She felt safe and cozy with me there, stretched out, solid as a rock.
Of course our new housemate, Ophelia, stayed close by. She has her cushion and I have mine. We have an unspoken agreement and we joined forces to support our ailing owner.
Creampuff disappeared. She probably took advantage of the opportunity to snuggle up to her best friend, Cathy’s desktop computer. The modem is nice and warm.
By Monday Mom was back to normal. By noon she was drinking her coffee. At 2 PM she took me on a 40-minute walk. By evening she was off to exercise class.
And tomorrow I go to the park with Aunt Sara. Life is good.
Or whatever passes for normal in a cat these days.
My mom is so happy. Ophelia has been eating…and eating. Mom put a big dish of food in the laundry room, so Ophelia would have some privacy. Ophelia dug right in with gusto. You’d think she hadn’t eaten for a month. Well, she hadn’t. She’s been eating via “assisted feeding.”
Cathy feels she has gained an hour a day. No more fluid. No more force feeding.
She also gained a new cat. Ophelia’s whole personality has changed, too. She’s become a strong, confient, dominant feline. She joins us on the sofa. She sleeps on Cathy’s bed.
Now we’re waiting for the cats to start getting along. Ophelia has a magnificent purr and a horrible, ugly hiss. I’m afraid Creampuff gets hisses, boos and growls. I get ignored. My mom gets the purrs. Welll, she pays the big vet bills.
My mom Cathy was so happy. Last night she was exhausted. She needed to feed Ophelia and the thought of heating up some water and mixing food with milk thistle (for Ophelia’s liver) and goop (the high calorie gel) … well, that was too much, even for my tender-hearted mom.
So she set down a can of Friskies turkey and giblets, right next to Ophelia’s special place in the closet. And Ophelia ate. And ate.
Yaay! My mom was so excited. She called the vet and left a message.
The vet deserves a medal. Mom also emails about the unusual things she finds in Ophelia’s litterbox. I would not be turned off (don’t ask what I eat in the dog park) but we have to be sensitive to our readers, says my mom.
As far as I am concerned…Big Deal. So she ate. I do it every day. I would eat all of Ophelia’s food, Creampuff’s food and my food, if Cathy would let me.
They tell me that cats have a special relationship with their owners. Personally, I think cat owners need a special relationship with their psychiatrists.
I am sleeping off a wonderful day of playing in the park with my Aunt Sara. Every dog and every human is my potential friend. And every piece of food is my potential treat.
Ophelia has been growling a lot lately. She sits on my mom’s lap and growls. She growls when she sees Creampuff. Creampuff is too ditzy to take it personally. She just holds her ground and stares at Ophelia, as if she’s asking, “What’s your problem?”
Even my mom admits Ophelia seems to be neurotic. But she IS getting healthier. See the photo on the right? She doesn’t look yellow at all. Just growly.
I am trying to stay out of the line of fire. Here I am with my new chew toy, a birthday present from Summer at the Dog Lounge.
Dogs know what’s important. Food, toys and walks. Ophelia needs to get with the program.
New President-Elect Barack Obama has shown good sense already. He promised his daughters a puppy. My mom read this article aloud to me.
Frankly, I think Obama should forget about getting a puppy. The White House is no place for house training, crying and mess. He should do what my mom Cathy does: get a nice full-grown, mixed-breed dog from a shelter.
At least he’s not getting a cat, like the Ford administration. There’s hope for the country.
Ellen is a party entertainer who works with tarot cards and astrology. My mom scoffs but she’s always eager to get Ellen’s celestial advice. She says Ellen is more businesswoman than reader. Ellen has amazing intuition, she says. She’s more like a natural psychic.
So she asked Ellen to “read” the cats. And she was thrilled when Ellen said, “Ophelia wants affection. She needs more cuddling and patting.”
So Mom took Ophelia into her lap immediately. Sure enough, Ophelia purred so loudly we could hear her clear across the room.
But what about me? Ellen said I am a “spoiled canine.” Just because I tried to eat the tarot cards. Big deal.
So much for psychic powers. I’m not spoiled. I just know a good dog mom when I see one.