Sunday, October 12, 2008

The D-O-G

So. I'm a dog owner. How the hell did that happen? I have never had a dog. Never. Growing up we had gerbils. They reproduced like crazy which was really good because they died all the time. My parents wouldn't let us keep them upstairs and I think they all froze to death in our Minnesota basement. My brother and I begged for dogs or cats, but we were turned down cold. I didn't really know many dogs, so I had no idea what they were really like.

When I got out on my own, I got a cat. Then I got another one. One was named "Dave" whom I rescued from a small cage at a pet shop next to a Thai place in Wausau, WI. I can remember everything from that evening. He looked so sad, but as soon as he came home he was pretty much a wild man. I can't remember exactly all of his antics, however I remember I could never have fresh flowers. He would knock them over.

Fast forward a few years, and I met Chris. We dated long distance for a year, but would visit every other weekend. When he came to see me, his eyes would water and his head would get all stuffed up. It was the hardest thing to give up those two cats, but when we decided to live together it was necessary. As the kids have grown, they have always asked about getting a dog or a cat. We would throw out the "your father is allergic" excuse and it usually stopped the conversation for a few weeks. It wasn't hard for me to say "no". I am really not a dog person. I don't stop on the sidewalk and pet other people's dogs. I don't ask about people's dogs. I don't even like it when they come up and sniff me. Everyone knows this about me, but one of my friends must have known that inside my dog-disliking soul was really a dog-loving soul SCREAMING to come out. She knew that all she had to do was wait about four years and I would melt and cave. All she would have to do is call from the Humane Society and say, "You HAVE to come and see this dog. She is so wonderful. I would adopt her in a second if my husband would let me have a third dog." And all of a sudden, this switch went off and as I drove to the Humane Society, all my kids in tow, I knew that I would be coming home with this dog.

My friend joined us so that she could show her to us. The dog was let out of her cage and we walked into a dog run. She started leaping around. Literally. Leaping like a gazelle. It was so obvious that she was thrilled to be out of her pen. She came up to each one of us, at different times, to greet us. She was affectionate and adorable. I called Chris and told him about her. He said that we should get her because it was obvious that we already had fallen for her. His allergies were never brought up.

Basie has been with us for a few weeks now. I feel as if I've joined an exclusive club - dog ownership. It's the same feeling I got after Harrison was born. I no longer resented crying babies in restaurants - I just felt bad for their parents. Now that I have a dog, I no longer cringe when I hear the dog behind us barking late into the evening. I worry for him/her instead.

The learning curve is steep and I've been thrown in feet first. She has been sick twice already each with their own medicines. First she had an upper respiratory infection. Through this experience I learned not to freak out every time she sneezed mucus all over my living room. Her nose was actually running. I WIPED A DOG'S NOSE! Then her nose dried out and I put Vaseline on it. I also learned how to give her pills pretty much from the first day we got her. I can whip my fingers behind her canines and open her mouth in a second flat. I throw the pill down her throat, rub her throat gently and keep her mouth shut until her tongue comes out and I know she's swallowed. Can you believe I know this? Non-dog-owners could give a shit, I know, but I just had to share. After she finished her first antibiotic, I had to go back to the vet for two booster shots. They casually recommended that I drop off a stool sample. "Here" the tech said, "Just put it in this tiny CLEAR bottle with this stick and then bring it back within two hours of collecting it. Do you need a glove?" I just stared. The pills were one thing, but this was a bit much.

Sure enough the test came back positive for giardia. Something about the cell count on the slide being so high they couldn't count them all. More pills, and some powder for her food. At least she's eating now. She didn't eat the first two weeks, so nothing worked to entice her to take her pills.

She may also have asthma. She has this reverse sneezing wheezing thing she does quite a bit. It usually happens when she's been exercising a lot, or sniffing a lot. Yes, Basie probably has allergies.

So we've come full circle. Chris is indeed allergic to Basie, but he hasn't said that out loud. He is really stuffed up, and has been using his inhaler more, but we keep attributing it to the remodeling he's doing in the basement. And the dog is possibly allergic to us. The love we all have for each other, though, makes all of that go away. This dog is the most loving, fun animal I've ever known.

I think it all comes down to this...Basie makes our family happier. She's been a ton of work. She's not fully potty trained, so I've been walking miles a day with her, but I can't help but accept that adding her to our home is one of the smartest decisions we've made.


Hyacinth said...

What a lovely post :) I have been reading your blog for a while without leaving any comments, but I just wanted to say how wonderful that you've adopted your dog from a shelter...all three of our cats have been adopted from a local rescue group and they all have had many many health issues (Giardia, been there, done that...wiping snot off their nose, doing it for the last 3 days...shoving pills down their throat, technique down pat...and the list goes on)...but through all that, the amount of sheer love and joy and laughter that these little furry creatures have brought us has been immeasurable! Bassie is a lucky girl to have such a wonderful family and you guys are lucky to have such a wonderful d-o-g :)

Katybeth said...

I am glad to read that Bassie is making your families hearts so happy. She has a forever after home...and your family has forever after love. The rest of the problems....well you would not be a dog owner without them.

Jennie said...

I am SO with you. We got a dog a year ago and I fell in love with her instantly. Never been a dog person, but I definitely am now. I not only love my dog, but I also love everyone else's dogs now, too. So strange how that works. I'm so happy you found Basie! She deserves a good home like yours.

Anonymous said...

Hi Carol,
It's strange that I feel as though I know you and your family because I have been reading your blog for months. Just wanted to say from one dog owner to another - welcome!
I wanted to let you know that dogs sometimes reverse sneeze when they've got sinus/upper respiratory infections. My advice is to wait at least another month before putting her on any allergy medication. When a female dog gets spayed (which she probably did recently at the Humane Society), it REALLY affects the immune system of the dog. Also, just making the change from kennel life to home life can have physical effects on the dog. Reverse sneezing is more common than you think. Plug her nostrils to get her to swallow, because it happens most frequently when the roof of the dog's mouth and throat are dry. If you get her to swallow, it should help. I went through that for a while, but she should get better as the lingering symptoms of her sickness wear away.

Good for you for rescuing a dog. You've made a profound impact on the dog rescue community by exposing yourself and your children to the relationships people can have with rescued animals.


Anonymous said...

basie is adorable. she is really a wonderful doggie! we are happy to pet sit whenever you want!

Jamie said...

I am so excited to read that she is completing your wonderful family! I have to say I'm impressed that you've already mastered the throat rub tactic - I grew up with a dog, and have had my own dog for 5 years now, and I'm still resorting to stuffing pills into peanut butter and cheese spread. Oh, and have Chris talk to his doctor (once renovations are concluded) about taking a daily allergy med (even an OTC will work in some cases) to help curb his canine allergies. My mother takes one and is very happy with the results.

ByJane said...

You got the love we dog people feel. I wanted to scratch her belly just reading this post. And go rescue any of the dogs you heard barking. Re the pills: the people who make Greenies also now make an edible pill pocket (at Petsmart).

Christy said...

Such a sweet post!

The Sassy Kathy said...

I had to comment simply because I consider myself another of this rare breed - The-Non-Dog-Person. I've also never had a dog, and really cannot see it happening...the barking, the slobber, the fur, the poop-scooping... However, my boyfriend of 5 years (a complete dog lover) is already trying to convince me how much I would love one. It's not working very well. But sometimes I do feel that I have the potential to become one of the dog-obsessed if I were to get my own... I did fall madly in love with a cat I was pet-sitting for a couple of days. We shall see. I'm glad to see that there's hope for us dog-less... Thanks for making me laugh with this post!

Sweet Herald said...

You were linked through Dooce's blog. Poor thing. It sounds like she was probably a bit ill when you got her from Dooce/Humane Society. I hope your hubby's allergies get better. My vet told me to brush the dog often (outside and away from said allergic person) and this will help shake some of the dander.

As a non-dog-person, did they tell you about excreting the anal glands? Hehe.

Anonymous said...

Hi Carol -

I'm Beth, another stranger who reads your blog so often I think of you as a friend.

I'm also a new dog owner. My husband and I found a little dog we named Mattie at Atlanta Humane Society in August. She, like Basie, has been sick. But she's beginning to thrive and is putting on weight.

We've had her just seven weeks, but I feel like she's part of our family. Just thinking about her makes me smile.

I'm so happy Basie has become a part of your life. She is a beautiful dog and clearly very happy with you. Congratulations.

- Beth

Rohini said...

Awwww... Lovely post. I miss my dogs. I had to give them away to my mum after my son was born because they got possessive and aggressive about not being the centre of our existence any more... :-(

Anonymous said...

Wonderful post, talk about the ups AND downs of dog ownership!
A little tip about the stool sample?
My dog also needed to be tested for giardia, and instead of me bringing in a sample, I brought in the dog. They stuck a stick with a tiny loop up her butt, and when it came out, there was "stuff" on it. They tested the stuff and bingo. Giardia.

If they can test a 90 lb rottweiler that way, I know they can take care of Basie.

gingela5 said...

So you're Basie's family! How wonderful! Dogs are a lot of work but the love they give in return is WORTH IT! If you're ever in Oklahoma and need two dogs to whip her into shape let me know! :)

The Mighty Beluga said...

oh jeez, i work at an animal hospital and I know the the pains of dog and cat ownership...i think it's a miracle my own dogs never really had much wrong with them. but I sympathize, I sympathize! by the way you guys and basie are so lucky to have each other.

Anonymous said...

I bopped over here from Dooce (procrastination at its finest!).

I have allergies and three (hairy!) dogs. What helps me cope is a daily dose of Accolate, which addresses the chemical reaction of an allergy attack rather than the symptoms. It's made all the difference in the world for me with both the doggie allergies and the hayfever.

Also recommended are wood floors, tiles, washable furniture covers and curtains, and NO DOGS on the furniture!!! (They can do just about everything else.)

Good luck with her. She sounds wonderful

Anonymous said...

Did your vet think that sneezing/wheezing thing was asthma? My dog does that too... mostly when she's excited or like you say sniffing a lot. It only happens every once in a while, and has never caused her any problems (she's 13). That may be a symptom you don't have to medicate! She may even quit doing it as she calms down and gets used to life in her new home. :-) Congrats on the new family member!


Kimberly said...

I love to hear about people getting their pets from a shelter or a rescue, and not a breeder. There are so many that need homes.

Thank you from the animal loving world!

Katie said...

So glad you came over to the dark side ;)

Seriously, though, dogs are amazing - you don't really understand how much they add to life until you have one of your own to enjoy. Congrats!

Anonymous said...

It sounds like your dog may have kennel cough - ours has it and he gets that reverse coughing when he gets excited and starts running around.

Imanitsud said...

Hi there:
Here from dooce, too. Read this post and wanted to tell you that your husband might find allergy relief through acupuncture! If you lived in central IN I would give you the contact info of a man here who is an acupuncture allergy specialist, and he has cured a good friend of mine who had to get rid of her first dog b/c of such bad allergies. Now, she has TWO dogs in her house. Just FYI. Hope it helps!

kcbelles said...

I love that you rescued Bassie! Read your story first on Dooce, but when I saw the pic today of Bassie & Coco playing together, I had to pop over. We rescued our little Westie over a year ago, and this little thief has just run off with our hearts:

We don't have allergies, but I certainly hope your husband finds a solution.

Lorrian said...

My hubby never owned a pet (unless you count gerbils). I came complete with 4 cats, who he accepted gladly. Then, we adopted one dog; the second joined us about 6 months later.

We've been married almost 3 years now, and no day goes by without my hubby remarking 'how was it that we never had dogs before?'

Yes, they do complete a family, don't they?

Lorrian said...

My hubby never owned a pet (unless you count gerbils). I came complete with 4 cats, who he accepted gladly. Then, we adopted one dog; the second joined us about 6 months later.

We've been married almost 3 years now, and no day goes by without my hubby remarking 'how was it that we never had dogs before?'

Yes, they do complete a family, don't they?