You can say any fool thing to a dog, and the dog will give you this look that says, “My God, you’re RIGHT! I NEVER
would’ve thought of that!”
~ Dave Barry
We have a dog and we like to travel. Combine the two and we’ve thrown another layer of anxiety on the usual pre-departure hysteria. Our Mickey is a spry 13 ½ year old miniature poodle who we love to pieces. Sadly, he’s slowed down quite a bit, and like a cranky old coot, he hates being boarded at the vet. So we bring in friends for him, aka our daughters’ old high school pals, so he can sleep in his own bed aka the couch.
Unfortunately in February Mickey needed to have seven teeth pulled. Yes, I know, bad doggie dental care. Please don’t yell at me. I’m Jewish and the guilt has been killing me all year.
On top of that, it seems that while our girls have outgrown their less than charming teenage years, our dog has become a picky toddler. He turns down much of the food we put in front of him, takes it out of his bowl and throws it on the floor and is no longer consistent in his potty training.
Not exactly making housesitting duties easy for neighborhood sitters. Perhaps his food issue would strain the limits of even struggling college students in need of cash. I was getting nervous as our departure day approached.
In early summer we planned a fall trip but we were still cutting up chuck steak into personalized little
See, missing so many teeth, we could no longer feed him kibble. And thus began the dark days of haunting the dog food aisles at PetSmart to solve the problem of feeding our new old man.
Purina, Beneful, Trader Joe’s - I don’t know how many different brands of canned food we tried.
We made boiled chicken for him and mixed it with white rice we made for us. The vet said it wouldn’t be nutritious enough in the long run, with a judgmental tone in her voice. I wanted to tell her "yeah, but it will give him more nutrients than starving."
We steamed and smashed up green peas. We peeled, chopped and boiled carrots and then resorted to little jars of organic sweet potatoes from the baby food aisle.
Most distressing for me was the Shabbat Challah Incident. Mickey was a true connoisseur who would turn up his nose at mediocre loaves. The first time we lit candles, said prayers and handed him a piece and then watched him drop it, uneaten, I thought I would burst into tears.
This was getting serious. We couldn’t find anything he liked on a continuing basis. He’d walk up to
the bowl, take a sniff and walk away as if to say, what is this new crap you’re feeding me? Which one of you threw up in my dish?
Sometimes we thought we’d solved it. We would come back to find the dish empty and him licking the last morsels. We’d be overjoyed until a few meals down the road when he’d go all day without so much as a nibble.
How could we go away and let our daughters’ friends housesit with a picky eater? If we couldn’t figure it out, how could we expect them to?
We kept a stack of labels from each brand that he showed some interest in. Conversely, we kept note of the ones he’d leave in the dish, unnibbled. We began to wonder if he was withholding food from himself because he had cancer, an ulcer, some kind of doggie heartburn.
My husband, an ex-pharmacist, consulted with the vet and got human Pepcid, breaking it into poodle size dosage. This was like having a sick enfant. Neither dog nor child could tell you what was bothering them.
Then last week, the tide turned. Mickey slurped up some food. We held our breath. Breakfast went down easily. He savored his dinner repast. This happened for a week with specific brands which went on the Most Wanted List. He’d grown less picky. Why? Who knows, who cares, he’s eating again.
I sent an email to our house sitters. Hello Friends of Mickey the Wonder Poodle. Good news to
report - Mickey is eating again – and still peeing around the family room. But that, at least, has a solution.
Much like overpaying for babysitting our human kids, who refused to go to bed and expected to be played with till the sitter collapsed with exhaustion, we are willing to throw money at the incontinence issue. Going over budget may not work for the government, but for crazed parents, I'd vote for anything that would let me see a movie on Saturday night or get on a plane out of LA.