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Walkin'

Echinacea breath

Pearl, our ditzy labradoodle, and I are in the doghouse lately.
She committed her sin several weeks ago while we were watching Lexi, a Jack Russell terrier that comes to visit from time to time. Lexi is over 100 years-old in human terms, and has been given only several months to live from a variety of doggie disorders she’s contracted over the past decade.
She keeps turning kibble into cobble, however, if you get my drift.
Lexi’s owner attributes the dog’s against-the-odds longevity to a costly organic holistic herbal supplement she has been giving her. Unfortunately, during a recent stay, we ran out of the green pills, which are more the size of small hockey pucks and look like wads of compressed grass. Sabra called Lexi’s owner, and she arranged to have a six-month supply sent to our home. It arrived in plenty of time. But on the day it came, Sabra was busy so she threw the parcel in a bag that hangs in the hallway with Lexi’s other stuff. Besides favorite toys, Lexi comes with a faux leopard skin jacket and little booties for walking on chilly days.
Such a lady.
Pearl, as I’ve detailed many times in this space, is not the brightest canine on the block for most practical purposes. She’s almost hopeless when it comes to retrieving a ball, for example. She loves to fetch; she’s just terrible at it. Because of a nagging back ache I haven’t been walking her as much lately, so to compensate, I’ve been taking her out to the yard for a game of fetch. When I pick up the ball she gets excited, and when I cock my arm she takes off with enthusiasm. The problem is that if I don’t toss the large, red, rubber ball with the precision of a NFL quarterback she doesn’t see it and can’t find it, even though it bounced a couple feet away from her and came to rest, sticking up out of the grass, only a few more feet away.
Then I walk to the ball, pick it up and start over.
Is that dumb or what? I mean her; not me.
But she does have an uncanny sense for recognizing what’s valuable to humans, and a pathological urge to destroy it. In her time she has chewed up my wallet, the TV remote, prescription glasses, cell phone, lesson plans, etc. She has also worked her way through Sabra’s wardrobe with an eye for the irreplaceable, like eating a favorite belt given to Sabra by her sister, as if it were a licorice whip.
Each time something like this happens we undertake to keep her in her kennel if we are away. She goes there willingly and it takes just a few seconds to lock the door– but over time our resolve softens. The truth is, that despite her many failings, Pearl is a really sweet dog. She has a particularly endearing habit of putting her head in my lap and looking at me as if to say, “I love you, do you love me?”
How can you banish something so sweet to a kennel?
Note that I use the words “our resolve” in a previous paragraph because the other day Sabra came home to find that Pearl managed to pull down the bag, break into the tightly wrapped box containing sealed vials and eat all of the supplement. Here’s a dog that can’t find her own ball when she’s practically standing on it but can sniff something valuable through several hermetically sealed barriers. Or maybe she can read? Either way it was my fault for not having her in the kennel, and I told Pearl to move it on over because the big dog was moving in.
It was bad enough that she destroyed nearly $200 worth of the stuff, but Sabra decided a trip to the animal emergency room was in order. Luckily, the vet on duty looked over the ingredients of the supplement and declared that there should be no bad repercussions other than a really healthy dog and breath that smells like Echinacea.