We had an hour and 45 minute delay on a flight with Josie. A really lovely woman gave us a beautiful fleece throw for Josie: Christmas-themed, with dogs on it. What a sweet, generous thing to do! We missed our connecting flight, so Josie used it as a bed in our motel room.
Until you’ve owned a 3.5 pound dog, you don’t appreciate how often you need to get it off the ground. I’m not saying you shouldn’t walk your dog. Obviously you should walk your dog. But there are times when there are reasons not to. Rather than ramble on about how people don’t ask parents why they have their kid in a stroller, I’m just going to list some of these reasons.
Another thing people like to joke about is how unhappy Chihuahuas (in particular) look when they’re in a purse. Here’s the thing: all Chihuahuas have “resting boredom face”. If you see a Chihuahua with a big open grin on it’s face, it’s because that dog is warm. Like many animals, Chihuahuas’ mouths naturally turn down when they’re closed. Ever seen a rabbit look overjoyed?
It’s the same principle. In addition, Chihuahuas squint to show pleasure and affection. The combination of downturned mouth and squinty eyes makes them look bored and unhappy, when they’re actually content.
Finally, many people don’t understand the temperament of companion dogs. These aren’t shepherding dogs. They don’t long to dig, or retrieve, or run, or fight. They were bred to love humans to an extraordinary degree, and all they want is to be with you. That kind of love is like the best drug in the world. Until you experience it, you don’t understand the impulse to have it everywhere, and that includes the post office. Especially the post office.
One final thing. A dog that is relaxing in a sling or purse, not making any noise or attempting to get out? That’s a well-behaved dog.
Musette got her teeth cleaned yesterday. Being an older cat, she had two extractions (one a resorptive lesion).
I opted to have the vet give her injections of an antibiotic and painkiller, rather than having to grab her sore mouth and pill her.
At five, I brought Musette home. Joe took the carrier into a bedroom and shut the door while I got some wet food ready. It had been almost 24 hours since she’d eaten, and Musette loves her food.
I came upstairs, little dish in hand. “Can I open the door?”
Sounds of a struggle. “Just a sec. Okay.”
I opened the door. Joe was holding Musette, who was growling and struggling to get downstairs to her feeder.
“Here, here!” I put the dish in front of her. She inhaled the food and calmed down. I petted her, and she purred and rubbed her chin on my hand. “Wow, look at her eyes,” I said. “They’re still completely dilated.”
Josie, our Chihuahua, came upstairs.
“You could give Musette a kiss,” I suggested. “That might make her feel better.”
Josie edged closer, peered into Musette’s face, then edged away. No thanks. She looks crazy.
We gave Musette more food and shut her in.
After watching TV for about an hour, I went upstairs and checked on her, expecting her to be more normal. Instead, she was even weirder – craning her neck, walking a few steps, then suddenly lying down and purring. Also, her pupils were still enormous. I got my cell phone and shone a light in her eyes. No reaction.
I went downstairs. “She seems more unstable if anything,” I said to Joe. “Let me see what the post-surgery instructions say.” I read for a moment. “Ah. The painkiller they gave her is morphine. She’s tripping balls.”
Joe switched off the TV. “The great thing about pets is that you can give them really addictive drugs. It’s not like they can get more.”
“You know, children’s movies show animals breaking into the pound to rescue friends or whatever. Why not make one where they break into a veterinarian’s office and steal all the narcotics? Do you think Quentin Tarantino has ever wanted to make a kid’s movie?”
“Fear and Loathing in PetSmart.”
“Trainspotting with Spot.”
“The Incredible Drug-Fueled Journey.”
I’m happy to say Musette was completely normal the next morning. Call us, Quentin.
Josie passed the first part of her therapy-dog assessment yesterday. It took place at a hardware store, and showed how she reacts to strangers and also how well she minds me. Next week we go to a “memory care” facility.
Here she is, studying hard.
With the weather too cold to walk much, I decided to get Josie one of those dog treat puzzles. Many years ago, I got one of those clear acrylic balls that you load with treats and the dog rolls it around until some come out, and she was not a fan. She’s not much into balls, and treats that are in a container are off limits, and she is not much of a rebel – more of a groveler. So I gave that toy to Carly’s Shih Tzu, Roman, and it was a big hit. Roman is not a groveler, and when he wants the ball refilled, he carries it in to where his people are and slams it down on the floor.
For Josie’s second foray into treat-oriented puzzles, I bought the Trixie Dog Activity Flip Board. It’s an intermediate puzzle, which I figured Josie could handle, and wasn’t terribly expensive at about $12.25. The reviews were positive, unlike those for the puzzle made of pressed board of some type, which had cut some dogs’ noses. Ouch. Also, beging plastic, this thing is very washable.
It came with very specific instructions, and I followed them to the letter. Make it positive, don’t pressure your dog, give it treats just for interacting with the toy. I left the sliders partway open in the beginning, and she pushed them with her nose at first, but then moved on to using her paw. I had taught her “touch” just a few days before, and that helped. She would touch the yellow lever and I would take a treat from the compartment and give it to her, so she could see there were more in there. Eventually she opened it quite by accident, and I told her it was all hers and gave her an even higher-value treat in addition. I got it about a week ago, and it’s taken her this long to get really good, mostly because she’s not bold, and had to get used to plastic things making noise.
I wanted something that would entertain her without me being there, and that hasn’t panned out yet. Josie is very submissive, and I still have to reassure her that it’s okay for her to just take food out of this. I imagine she’ll get over that in time, but she’s not going to be opening kitchen cabinets anytime soon. Ever, really.
One final thing – Josie weighs 3.5 pounds. This puzzle is a great size for her, but I’ve seen some by the same maker that have large cones that can’t be knocked over, and she wouldn’t be able to get her bitty mouth around them to pick them up. Just an FYI.
Our Chihuahua’s currency is kisses.
To strangers, she offers a demure lick,
A kiss on the hand from
A prospective Latin lover.
“I would like to know you better.”
Relaxing at home,
Her tongue strokes my arm
Like a painter realizing her muse.
“How beautiful you are.”
Or a parent, stroking a child’s head.
“I will protect you.”
Always a questionable promise.
When we return from the unknown,
She is frantic with love.
Standing on hind legs,
She clutches my face between her paws
And kisses like a wife
Who thought herself widowed.
Our separation ended,
She no longer needs to be strong.
We pay in kind.
A primal press of primate lips
Against that tiny cheek,
Plush and yielding with fur.
She droops with pleasure.
Lying on her back in the sun,
Limp and heavy-lidded as a corpse,
She seems not to notice
Nibbling kisses on her belly,
Even when they stop.
There will surely be more.
— Copyright Esri Allbritten, 2016