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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Doggie Treats


Our dog eats anything. It makes no difference if it’s edible or not, or even if it tastes good or bad. If it crosses her path, she figures that it will be much better served in her stomach.

Her menu is quite eclectic, ranging from the electronic (the TV remote controls, wrist watches) to the disgusting (unflushed toilet water, lizards, and the occasional cockroach) to the ridiculous (ear plugs, cushion stuffing, spools of dental floss). After she ate the remote, we noticed that NASCAR races recorded on the TiVo every Saturday. Apparently, she chewed the precise steps to enable the recording of the last thing on earth we’d want to watch.

If only she was smart enough to realize that what came out of her was only a slightly altered form of what she ate, then I really do think she would modify her eating habits. I would rejoice if one day I saw her turn around, look at her poop and say, “Oh I get it now! This used to be my dog food!” In the case with the cushion stuffing, the dental floss, and more recently, the fresh-off-the-roll toilet paper, she manages to expose what can only be called hanger-ons. This is debris that, because of its length or strength, will not completely finish its journey out of her. It makes it to fresh air, but can’t seem to fall to the ground. This causes some bizarre doggy kinetic activity that involves rolling on the ground, scooting her butt across the lawn, and chasing her anus. People on the street think it’s adorable. “Aaw, isn’t that cute? Look at that dog chase its tail.” If you only knew, pal.

Oh, and she won’t voluntarily accept help from either of us. That would be sick, is what I’m sure she’s thinking when we approach her. When I take her out back or we go for a walk, latex gloves always accompany us in case there’s a hanger-on event. When she gets into trouble, it takes two of us to fix the problem. I will hold her down and lift up her powerfully strong stub of a tail. Other Bill will then don the glove and carefully drag out the problem. Sometimes this process can literally stretch out for a long time. With the dental floss incident, we were ready to attach a kite and send it up. What are you looking at? Haven’t you ever seen dog fly a kite from its butt before?

I should be grateful that she has such an iron-clad stomach. Our previous boxer had such gastrointestinal sensitivity that any slight variation in her diet would cause an episode of diarrhea so intense that it was credentialed by the Department of Homeland Security as a weapon of mass destruction. One slurp of pool water: uncontrollable diarrhea for three days. After she ate an M&M on the floor or tasted any other dog’s food, I would have to follow her around with a bucket and a sponge.

This is one area of the animal kingdom where the cat reigns superior over the dog. Cats get a hanger-on, and they’re on it. They don’t need a human to do the plucking for them. They just stop, frown and look at you for a second and say, with a British accent, “Pardon me, I’ve a little something I need to take care of.” Then they’ll get into this funky, hind-legs-behind-the-head yoga position and dive down and perform the extraction. After that, they’ll clean up a bit, lick their paws, look up at you and say, “There, now. Where were we?” Dogs may be more fun and better company, but in the long run, they still need humans to help maintain their dignity. Cats can take care of themselves.

My sister-in-law, Freddi, just recently lost her aging Bichon. As sad as this was, that dog’s death will now enable her to re-enter the dating world, which is a life she has kept a healthy distance from ever since The Incident.

Inappropriately named from the get-go, Lucky the Bichon would have been more appropriately called Despicable. Therefore, people would have been wise enough to keep far away from him. For 14 years, every wastebasket in their house had to be kept on a counter, or Lucky would root through it, and then parade around the house with whatever smelly object he retrieved: an old, black, banana peel, a moldy stalk of celery, or worse. Much worse.

It came to pass that after an unhealthy period of time without a date, my sister-in-law met a man who interested her, had a reasonable IQ, and who was, at least up until The Incident, equally interested in her. It was the night of their second date, and maybe she was a little nervous, or maybe she just forgot, but at any rate, the bathroom wastebasket, for whatever reason, had been moved from the countertop to the floor, leaving its contents accessible to Despicable.

After dining out at a nice restaurant, they came back to the house, and Freddi let the dog out of his crate and opened a bottle of wine and poured two glasses. The conversation was going well, although both were thinking naughty thoughts while speaking. The sexual tension in the air was thick and opaque.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, Despicable comes flying down the stairs, holding something dark and amorphous in his mouth. What was this object, this strange blob attached to a string that was clamped in the dog’s mouth, the rest of it dangling like a giant teabag? It was hard to tell, because the dog was circling the room as fast as a greyhound. Finally, he slowed down, jumped up on the couch, and presented to the white pants of the date an item of feminine hygiene that earlier in the day had been housed inside my sister-in-law.

They had a good laugh about it later in the week, after the pants were dry-cleaned, but somehow their relationship never blossomed.

So now that Lucky is gone and reduced to ashes, I’m hoping my dear sister-in-law will be comfortable signing up with E-harmony or But I doubt if her ad will read, “Must love dogs.”

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