I kind of wanted a baby. I just wasn’t ready to break my vagina and gain 30 pounds. Also, I enjoyed sleeping, and being the center of the universe. So I adopted a little dog instead. Specifically, I ordered him before he was born and spent the next six weeks wringing my hands.
I badgered the breeder weekly, sometimes daily, like she was a surrogate who may change her mind the minute the (fur) baby was born.
She hated me.
I hated her for hating me.
Then Rigby was born.
I became “that” dog owner. I didn’t let him out of my sight for longer than seven minutes, and I took him to work with me every day. When he was a year old I was satisfied he was a “big boy” and could go to doggie daycare. I dropped him off every morning on my way to work. With his lunch. And a snack. The daycare providers knew both of us by name. They loved Rigby. Me not so much…I was the doggie mom who wanted detailed information about his day including his bowel movements, manners, and whether or not any other fur children hurt his feelings.
When I later became a consultant and only worked 9am-1pm, it was still too long to leave my fur child home alone. Obviously half-days at doggie daycare didn’t make sense, so I hired a dog nanny. She took him to the dog park, the beach, and drove him around with the windows down because it made him happy.
Then the unspeakable happened: Rigby developed a small lump on his hip.
Naturally this required my undivided attention.
I took him to every veterinarian in the county trying to determine the cause of the lump, and how to cure it. I was convinced it was “altering his personality and making him fearful and aggressive.”
Every one of them noted the lump was in the EXACT location of his recent vaccination shot and said it would subside without treatment. I shook my head and gave them stacks of helpful information I had printed from Google…
Having exhausted all western medicine options (because we were politely asked to have our veterinary needs met elsewhere), I turned to a more Eastern philosophy. Yes, a homeopathic canine expert who specialized in herbs and emotional remedies. She came to our home to perform her miracle work once a week. For $100 per visit. Not including the supplements.
Each session lasted about 15 minutes. She rubbed flower essences on Rigby’s hip and gingerly dropped special tinctures onto his tongue while I looked on with great concern.
The lump eventually subsided and I counted it among one of my greatest victories.
Fact #1: the lump would have eventually disappeared on its own, without investing thousands of dollars in dandelion oil.
Fact #2: Rigby was still fearful and aggressive – probably because I was the most neurotic dog owner in the history of California.
Fact #3: As I look back on all this I’m rolling my eyes so hard I can see my own hypothalamus…
But here’s the part that really makes no sense:
All of this doggie drama is a radical departure from how animals were treated when I was growing up. Vets were for rich people, and dog food was for stupid people. That’s what table scraps are for. Neutering and spaying were considered “cruel” and “unnatural,” and we’d sooner cut off a dog’s legs than put a leash on it. “They’re animals goddammit!”
Our pets disappeared for days or weeks at a time without warning. IF they returned, they were bloody, emaciated, and sometimes pregnant. Heartworms were an inevitable tragedy, ringworms were standard for pets and children, and a dog with no fleas was as ridiculous a notion as a dog with no asshole.
This is why I don’t judge the fur mommies and daddies of the world. We might seem a little wacky, but we’ll go to the ends of the earth for anything we love. How can that be bad?
Friday was Rigby’s birthday.
I miss that little guy.
I hope he had a birthday cake and ice cream. And a piñata.