Editorial August 2002 Issue

Summer Guests

Fortunately, we’ve got plenty of (dog) beds . . .

The past two months have been crowded with guest dogs while everybody I know has gone on vacation. Boy, have I had ample opportunities to learn about breeds of dogs that I’m unfamiliar with – as well as the health and behavior “baggage” that each dog brought along.

Ginger is a huggable Rottweiler who came to stay for a week. She suffers from disco-spondylitis, which causes her serious pain when she runs and plays. She has to take two gigantic antibiotic capsules three times a day, and Rimadyl when she’s really sore.

She hates taking these pills, and because she’s taken them for months already, she’s hip to every pill-giving method. I tried giving her 20 different tasty treats and she turned down every one, even – without any pills hidden in them. So you just have to pry open her powerful jaws and get the pills down as far as you can.

I felt horrible about this all week. I rewarded her with games and hugs for every pill she swallowed, but it didn’t make difference. I was amazed at her good nature; if I was her, I would bite anyone who tried to give me a pill. Ginger just looked sad.

I spoke to Ginger’s guardians about looking into complementary healthcare – herbs, acupuncture, chiropractic? They are somewhat weary, and leery of spending even more money. I’ll work on them when I can.

Ginger’s visit overlapped with Cooper, my father-in-law’s Australian Shepherd. He’s been here before and knows the ropes: how to stay out of the way of my dog, Rupert; how to jump on the trampoline for super-fun play; and how to look at the camera to earn cookies.

Holly, a well-mannered hound-cross, came for just a couple of nights. Her guardians got her from a shelter, and were told she was about four years old. I’m guessing nine or more, judging from her cloudy eyes, yellow teeth, gray muzzle, well established cellulite deposits, and slow, dignified gaits. Should I tell them?

Carly, a mixed breed, lives next door, but she’s often here. If not, she’s home alone and barks all day. She’s the only dog that Rupert has ever liked, so she’s welcome anytime.

Now we’ve got tiny Mocha, a year-old long-haired Chihuahua. He belongs to my sister and her family, who are spending the summer on a boat. They’ve taken other dogs sailing in the past, but Mocha’s unrelenting exercise requirements and propensity for chewing got him kicked off the boat (not literally!). He and my 10-year-old son will be a tough pair to separate come fall.

And, of course, Rupie. He clearly thinks I’ve lost my mind, letting all these dogs in here. But we’re all going out of our way to let him know he’s the best dog, the top dog, the only dog ever allowed under my desk.

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