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Thursday, April 8, 2010

Dog Pill

My dog likes to take pills. He not only likes them, he starts jumping up and down and racing back and forth when it’s time. All anybody has to do is to rattle a pill bottle, and he perks up, hoping it means he gets one.

We never before this had a dog that liked pills. You always had to hide the medicine in a rolled-up slice of meat or a bit of cheese, and even then they’d somehow gulp the good part and spit out the pill. Our previous dogs weren’t as bad as the cats about pills, but they never thought of a pill as a treat.

We got this dog as a seven-pound ball of fuzz from the Humane Society. We went there to get an older, already-housetrained dog. Somehow all the grown dogs in the place were scary. Then there was a room of puppies in cages. We went in. Suckers.

A bunch of the puppies were Border Collie-Labrador Retriever mixes. We thought that would mean they wouldn’t get quite as big as Labs usually are. He came home with us and grew to be 65 to 70 pounds. He looks like a Labrador with longish hair and a thinner face than normal. He has the worst traits of the two breeds. He chewed things up until he was three. He was murderously hard to train, despite training class after training class. We ended up hiring private trainers when he developed terrible biting habits, just out of excitement, not specific aggression. The trainers, who advertised that they specialized in aggressive dogs, told us they had never seen a dog with as much nervous energy as our dog has. They gave us strict rules for how to behave with our dog, and they trained the whole family. They saved the dog’s life for that—I was going to have him put down after the last biting episode did damage to a family member.

Years later, the dog has become a mostly calm, obedient, loving pet to us, but I still will never trust him the way we used to be able to trust our past dogs. For example I will never allow the neighbor kids to take care of him. I have one neighbor whose children have taken care of him, but they were teenagers, not youngsters, and we had training sessions with them before we left the dog in their care while we were away. Our new neighbors have a dog sort of like him, but theirs is trustworthy, and none of the children are teenagers yet. The oldest boy wants to walk our dog as a summer job, but I can’t let him.

Our dog is developing arthritis. My sister, a veterinarian, told me to give the dog the same glucosamine tablets that people take. So the dog takes his pill every night, and he is ecstatic about it. He also has a prescription pill, and now he can again jump into the car to go for a ride, and he can run up the stairs again. He doesn’t slip and slide much anymore on our floors because of weak hip joints, but he also has learned to slow way down when he’s on bare floors.

My mom thinks he’s hilarious. She likes to be upstairs in the kitchen when it's Pill Time so she can laugh. I no longer take him for granted; my mother has taught me one more thing to laugh about in life.

Silly dog. ;-D

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