Low Dog on the Totem Pole

by Abby on January 18, 2013

My son and his dog, GracieFrequently when we’re talking about our family, I will refer to the 4 of us, only to be quickly corrected by my 6yo: “No, Mom, there are FIVE of us in our family. You, me, Daddy, Riley, and Gracie.”

Gracie is a scruffy-looking mutt with a sweet disposition that we’ve had since before kids. You could call her our “training baby.” My husband and I adopted her shortly after we got married, then all but forgot about her when we had real babies.

I’m sorry, childless animal-lovers, but that’s what happens. When you’ve got human mouths to feed and clean up after, the canine takes a back seat. It’s the natural order of things.

Besides, as C. likes to point out, Gracie doesn’t have it ALL bad. She came from a city animal shelter so disgusting that I made C. go in alone while I sat in the car. “Call me if you see any non-pit bulls.” If we hadn’t taken Gracie home, she would not be alive today – or at least that’s how C. justifies it when he skips her walks and forgets to refill her water bowl. It’s true that she does enjoy a pretty darn good quality of life, even if it includes overly enthusiastic affections from a 3yo.

One night right before Christmas, Gracie started wheezing, shaking, and yelping for no reason. It was alarming, but I can’t say it was totally unexpected. “Well, she IS pretty old…” I said. “Dogs don’t live THAT long…”

“Will you stop writing her off already?” C. retorted. “She’s only 8 years old! She’s perfectly healthy.” He thinks I’ve had it in for this dog ever since we had kids. Let me just point out that I’M the one who vacuums up the muddy paw prints and books the dog sitter most of the time.

Technically, she’s probably closer to 9 or 10 years old, though like I said, she’s a rescue dog so we have no way of knowing for sure. Also? She may not be all that healthy, since I’m pretty sure we’ve forgotten to give her heartworm pills for a few years now. (C. debates this strenuously. This from the person who regularly forgets to brush our children’s teeth. How conscientious IS he?)

I’m not saying I wouldn’t be sad if it were Gracie’s time to go to the Great Kennel in the Sky, but like I also said, I have 2 human children to care for now, so I am perhaps a little less tolerant of the constant shedding and too-frequent accidents the dog has on the living room rug. And I wouldn’t miss the poop, OK? Lord knows we have plenty of that around here.

Finally we C. couldn’t take it anymore and rushed Gracie to the 24-hour pet ER. I went to bed. $200 later, we discovered that there was nothing apparently wrong with our pooch. “They said she’s a VERY healthy dog,” C. told me accusingly. It was probably just a cold or a sore throat, the vet said. Dogs get colds?! For $500 more, they could have done X-rays to find out for sure. Sorry, Gracie. We don’t love you THAT much. Even C. agreed with me on that one.

UPDATE O’ THE DAY: Since “the wheezing incident,” Gracie has been fine. Except for one of her eyes occasionally swells shut. What’s that about? A bug bite? An allergic reaction to eating Spiderman cereal off the floor? Probably just retaining water due to lack of beauty sleep. If she has to go to a doggie facialist, she’s outta here.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Steph January 18, 2013 at 9:00 am

It could be allergies. Dogs can have benadryl. One of our dogs is super reactive to fleas, if she gets ONE flea bite, she’ll scratch a 2 inch wide hole in her skin. Super gross. After the expensive prescription topical spray did nothing for her, at 3 am I looked up the benadryl dosage, and let our vet know the next day. I know I should have probably talked to the vet first, but no way was I shelling out for 24hr vet, let alone driving all the way to Falls Road for non-life threatening doggy issues at 3 AM with my preschooler.


Abby January 18, 2013 at 9:06 am

Haha! You’re smarter than us. Benadryl, huh? Who knew?


Kris-Ann January 18, 2013 at 1:23 pm

Ugh. My dog has so many issues (psychological) that he’s much harder to care for than the kids! I have the same thoughts about him that you do about Gracie. And watch out, not only can dogs get colds, they can also get stomach bugs. That we found out the hard way last Super Bowl Sunday after several vet trips, medications…and scrubs of the rug.


Corey Feldman January 18, 2013 at 7:50 pm

I am amazed at what we have spent on Vet bills over the years


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