Thursday, January 21, 2010

My Favorite Pet (Peeve)

Okay so let's talk about other stuff while I avoid the topic of weight loss. Yep ... we're still in holiday recovery here. Two crummy lingering pounds, but still.

I was kind of in the mood to gripe about a few of my pet peeves, like:

wrestling with tangled clothes hangers,

or, people who say "her and I" (as in, "Her and I ditch English class often.")

or, rude and sullen service people who mutter (without even glancing up from their task at hand) things like "what's up" when you go to pick up your passport photo at Walgreen's. And I don't mean a friendly, cheerful "hey, wassup!" ... I mean a "what-the-hell-do-you-want-lady, you're-bothering-me" what's up.

Or, sheesh, they can send a man to the moon but nobody can figure out how to make a garden hose that doesn't kink,

or, clueless grocery shoppers who abandon their carts in the middle of the aisle as they wander off to contemplate nutrition labels,

or, the fact that we are always knee-deep in dog hair at our house, despite endless vacuuming.

But that last pet peeve got me to thinking about the pet that causes that peeve and then I started feeling less bitchy and more, well ... all mushy inside. The source of all that dog hair is Angel, our 12 year old yellow Lab. Baby Girl, Mike calls her. But our Baby Girl is getting on in years. And, oh dear ... that makes you think. And now I don't so much feel like bitching about petty stuff anymore.
Angel came to us as a 9 week old pup in 1998. Elizabeth was 10 and we had promised her a puppy when we moved to Austin; she in turn promised us she would be responsible for taking care of this dog. Parents 'round the world? Does this ever happen? (raspberry sound here) Elizabeth named Angel after her favorite food at the time, angel HAIR pasta, and after a couple of shedding seasons it became clear that Elizabeth's name choice was a little joke from the universe. Shouldn't we have taken the "hair" part of that name inspiration and called her Harriet? Especially since Angel seemed a poor choice for the naughty youngster she was. But as she got older, it was evident Angel was a perfect name as she became our gentle, patient, devoted companion and protector.

She's not been an especially healthy or low maintenance dog however, and she has cost us a small fortune in vet bills, especially in contrast to our miniature dachshund, Rosemary, who's never had a sick day in her life (and who sometimes uses Angel's ass for a pillow; above). Angel takes the prize for ear infections, chronic skin allergies, compulsive licking, paw chewing, and scratching. She often wears toddler's socks (pictured above) to keep her from gnawing paws raw. She's been on an expensive allergy medication for several years now ($50 a month) and does an occasional course of steroids for bad flare ups. As you can see, she's never particularly happy about all this. In September she tore her acl and had surgery, a big deal for an older dog because the recovery process (below) is intense. Again, not happy. She's hobbling a bit but doing pretty well now! For an old Baby Girl.
But the shedding. Ack! I find blond dog hair in my morning coffee and on my pillow at night. I even found one in the microwave the other day. My slippers, which are not the furry, fluffy kind, are furry and fluffy. And our clothes ... well, suffice it to say we have a lifetime supply of lint rollers which are strategically stationed throughout the house.

Angel is a year-round shedder, even shedding great gobs in winter when other dogs are smartly building up and hanging onto their winter coats. You can see the hair falling off blizzard-like when she strolls by. I could stuff a sofa with the hair I collect after I brush her on the back porch. I often throw fistfuls of it into the yard and come spring, the birds snatch bits of it to line their nests. In the fall we find these empty nests in the naked branches of trees and we tell Angel that she has made a loving contribution to the comfort and protection of tender fledglings, who will soon be the parents of more fledglings come next spring. And on and on.

I often complain that I wish I had back all of the hours I've spent on extra vacuuming over the years since we've had Angel. I don't really. She has been worth every minute of it, worth every penny spent at the vet, every moment devoted to her convalescing, every chewed up Bally shoe and every Barbie ensemble ingested as a puppy. The best part is that we can say this now, while she is still with us. We can nuzzle her neck and tell her how important she is to us. She has been our mentor, showing us how to love. Showing us how it's done.

There is such an abundance of Angel hair blowing about our yard that long after she is gone someday, the birds will still be lining their nests with Angel hair every spring. When we find those abandoned nests in fall, our hearts will swell and we will tell Angel again: you always did and always will make a loving contribution to the comfort and protection of tender lives.

That's what Angels do.


Salina Lyn said...

Oh I LOVE this post! It made me think of my sweet princess, Pollyanna, the best dog in the world. Okay, maybe the best Basset Hound in the world.

And a pet peeve....people that say "what not".


musingegret said...

This was a truly lovely essay; thank you. And pet peeve? People that write 'loose' for 'lose' and 'should of' for 'should have'!

Fragrant Liar said...

Aw, sweet Angel. She didn't look too happy in her Shakespeare collar. Poor thing. (Actually, those collars make me think of putting my head through a bullhorn.

Are we back to the personal essay? I hope so. You do them so well.

Hugs to the Baby Girl. :)

Fragrant Liar said...

P.S. I see all your followers.

Jocelyn said...

I would think all that pet-hair vacuuming would help burn off those two pounds in no time.

Either that, or wrap yourself in cling wrap and sleep in it. That's what my Austin, TX, college roomie did before flag corp weigh-ins in high school.

Oz Girl said...

What poignant post the doggie love of your life! I have two Australian Shepherd girls that make those lint rollers mandatory in our house... but I wouldn't trade all the hairy clothes for their love and antics!

I just found you thru Midlife Jobhunter's blog. :-)

Oz Girl said...

So I make mucho typos right off the bat. What a good impression! Duh.

I meant to say:
What a poignant post about the doggy love of your life!

I hate it when I forget to proof before I post!

Midlife Jobhunter said...

"the birds will still be lining their nests with Angel hair every spring."

Oh, my. You made me cry. How we love our pets.

Pet peeve? "clueless grocery shoppers who abandon their carts in the middle of the aisle as they wander off to contemplate nutrition labels"

Are you that lady that yelled at me the other day. Like I remembered I even had a cart.

Anonymous said...

Never put off till tomorrow what may be done today..........................

C.J. said...

ahhhhhhhh what a sweetie. Just like kids, cost money, makes more work for you but what would we do without them? I sure am not ready to find out. :)

Debbie said...

Now I am not a dog lover but that is one cute pooch you have there!
And I agree with your other pet peeves.

Anonymous said...

I accidentally fell across your blog today. (ouch)

November 3 we had to have our 18 year old fur-baby euthanized. (Bichon) It wasn't pleasant, and we had put it off too long, then wondered if we'd done it too soon. It ripped our hearts out of our throats.

I swore, never again. Then in December, a puppy mill was shut down and one of its survivors crawled up to me. He needed me. I didn't know it at the time, but I needed HIM.

Michelle Wells Grant said...

Dana: it's so heartbreaking to lose them, I know. But to have him 18 years! Wonderful! I'm so happy your new puppy found you. You are at the beginning of a long and joyous journey together, and how great is that!

My Lipstick Life said...

OMG, this is just like our yellow lab, Jack! Same skin issues, shedding, everything! But we love them anyway, right? Looking forward to finding out how those last few pounds go :) Check out my weightloss blog Desperately Seeking Size-Ten for a much longer journey then you have left...

mac said...

Angel looks soo sweet!

A Chocolate Lab lives in my house (Or, do I live in her house?).

She's five years old now. She is the best friend a fella could ever have :-)
I was going to save the hair and make a sweater. But, it might smell like a dog?

I guess I'm lucky, she's a hardy beast. The only thing that has ever slowed her down is when she was spayed. And, that was far too temporary ;-)

The Mayor said...

Typically, I am not prone to sentimentality but your story about Baby Girl was so precious. Of course it reminded me of our yellow lab we had 13 years.

Now, I have a 130 gas bag of a beast.Ugh.

Anonymous said...

Cute post and something I can definitely relate to! Your "her and I" pet peeve reminded me of the "Mark and I" when really it should be "Mark and me". You know how people do this under their pictures on Facebook or MySpace? Drives me crazy!

steelxmagnolia said...

You nailed it. The adoration we feel for our Labs. My Bailey, a 7 or 8 year old rescue dog from Georgia fills my home with love ... and more black hairs than I want to imagine. She even guest posts in my blog. Come visit us!

Here are a few of her musings:

Cheers! Allie