Dumb dog

I refuse to write an obituary for my dog. Not because she can’t read (her fault) and not because she is still alive (her fault).  It’s because she doesn’t deserve it.

I’ve read (and wept over) countless of lengthy posts, emails, texts from friends and family members memorializing their pets – many of whom I personally gave belly rubs or enthusiastically followed on Instagram – and these dogs and cats were stand-up animals. They fetched items, they shat in pre-determined/pre-agreed-upon places, they followed at least two basic commands, and they were all extremely photogenic.

My dog has accomplished none of these things in 16 years of life.

Her reaction to my singing of Happy Birthday. Please note, the bruise on her neck was caused by the vet who gave her a hickey.

She has peed on my clothes and has hidden poop in my closet. She has woken me up hundreds of times in the middle of the night for no reason and rejected at least 50 dog beds just because. Her hidden talent is to step on the remote to change the channel at exactly the worst time. She is only interested in what I have to say when I have a turkey sandwich in my hand. She made me use up all of my airline miles to rush back home in the middle of Thanksgiving because she showered her sitter with explosive diarrhea. Her breath stinks. Her knees pop out of place and her heart murmurs. And she snores, loudly.

From the moment we met, I knew she was going to be trouble. “She’s not for show,” I was told. Later the vet confirmed, “She’s not good for breeding.” But I didn’t care for any of that. I just wanted to give my girlfriend a dog – the dream dog she always wanted – a hairless Chinese Crested. Only in the process of making that dream come true, I fell truly, madly deeply for this ungrateful Gremlin.

I’m reminded of just how much today, on her sweet, sixteenth birthday (which roughly translates into 106 in dog years). I don’t know if she’s made it this far because of me or in spite of me, but I do know that she has made my life richer in ways I never knew a 6-pound poop-machine could.

She fills my life with beautiful noise, from her feet’s pitter-patter to hearing her bark the entire time it takes me to eat a banana to her long, sustained howl when I walk through the door. And although I know one day we’ll have to say good-bye, I am certain that I will never forget how I could’ve bought a house with all the money I spent on her or how this dumb dog brought incredible joy and boundless love into my life.

Her reaction to this post. She sucks.



Dr. Feelgood

There was a dog in the doctor’s office.

And I like dogs. I even let one live in my house and heart, rent free. But being that this was the first time in five years I had been to a primary care physician, I expected something a bit more sobering, more somber, more sterile.

It’s like when you’ve spent a considerable amount of time adhering to a strict diet and then reward yourself with a delicious treat – only to find that the caramel pecan bun you have been craving is hard, moldy and worm infested.

In no way am I confirming that this dog had parasites. I mean, it appeared healthy. But, I’m certainly thinking it. As a matter of fact, I can’t stop thinking it. I also can’t stop thinking of the circumstances that landed me in the doctor’s office with said dog.

With the exception of my brief stint in academia, I’ve worked at companies that publicly offer health insurance, but secretly look down on you when you take time to visit a doctor. Your boss inadvertently becomes the keeper of your medical history and dental records with every, “I have to get blood work done” or “This tooth is really bothering me, I’m going to go check it out” or “I’m having irregular periods, I need to go see my gynecologist.” And if that wasn’t awkward enough, you can always count on experiencing intense guilt associated with being out. I mean, God forbid you were to take a full day, so instead you subject yourself to driving all over town at ridiculous speeds, stressing out when the doctor is behind schedule and developing an eye twitch when the same boss that knows you are at an appointment sends you four urgent emails and calls you while your doctor is listening for a heart murmur.

So, to avoid all of that I resorted to going to Minute Clinics and Urgent Care Centers when I had anything from a case of the sniffles to a torn meniscus. At the very least they would give me a prescription for cherry Robitussin and at the very worst they would refer me to an orthopedic surgeon – all done on the evening or weekend of my choosing and far, far away from the purview of a boss.

However, for the first time in my career, I’m enjoying a certain level of autonomy. Having full control of my schedule and workload, I decided to do the “adult thing” and schedule a visit with the medical professional I had designated as my primary care physician. But…

There was a small dog in the doctor’s office.

Was this also a veterinarian’s office, I thought. Or perhaps this was a service dog of some kind and I was being judgmental and inconsiderate. The bewildered look on my face must have caught the attention of the physician’s assistant, because she felt compelled to clarify that the four-legged furry beast was the doctor’s dog. She tells me this while recording my weight, but I can’t break my gaze from the dog, as it is now sniffing in front of the closed door of an examination room. In one graceful head butt, the dog opened the door to reveal a patient sitting up on the exam table and the voice of the doctor letting out a stern, “No.” She suddenly appeared in the doorway to wag her finger at the dog and close the door once again.

I finally broke my gaze of the dog and found the face of a very young physician’s assistant. “She opens doors,” she said between giggles.

She led me to my private examination room, a path cushioned by colorful and fluffy Crate and Barrel carpet runners. I too line my apartment floors with runners – not for decoration, but so my dog won’t slide across the wood floors. Upon further inspection, however, these runners were on top of commercial carpet at which point I convinced myself they were hiding poop stains. As the physician’s assistant fitted me with the blood pressure cuff, I could feel my pulse racing and the warmth of the blood that had now rushed to my cheeks.

I searched my mind for a calming image of the ocean, but all that came to mind was the trash and seaweed at the dog beach in Key Biscayne. Because…

There was a small, white dog in the doctor’s office.

My blood pressure came in at 117 over 76 and the physician’s assistant was pleased. However, my normal pressure is on the low side, like really low. So, this meant I was having a heart attack. Normally, I would’ve been relieved that I was already in a doctor’s office if I was in fact having symptoms of cardiac arrest, but, as I mentioned…

There was a small, white dog of one of those conjoined breed names that end in Poo or Doodle in the God damn doctor’s office.

I held the center of my forehead with the tips of my fingers as the physician’s assistant drew blood.

“It won’t hurt,” she said.

“I’m not worried about it.” I replied.

Of course not. I was worried about other things. Like the whereabouts of the dog. I hadn’t seen it in a while and wondered if it was opening doors of storage closets and licking blood samples or marking his territory on urine samples. And, most of all, I began to worry about my own examination, because, as this was to be my first visit, I requested a full physical and, being a woman, that includes a pap smear. As if this exam doesn’t already have a host of unpleasantness associated with it – medieval instruments, a witness, an exam table that can’t properly accommodate you, excessive amounts of KY Jelly – now there’s a looming threat of a dog head-butting the door for her own amusement – and finding the gates of my amusement park wide open.

There was a dog in the doctor’s office.

And I didn’t have a single urgent email, nor one inappropriately-timed phone call to save me from this horrible experience.

Brought to you by the letter p

We all have stories. Stories we share with friends. Stories we share with family. However, there are some stories we don’t share. Some that are just too embarrassing to ever even think about, let alone repeat. Out of sight, out of mind and it never happened.

For days I’ve been kicking around the idea of sharing one of those un-repeatable stories with you. Finally, today, I’ve mustered up the courage to write it, as I’m pumped with drugs that are fighting an ear infection.

This story is brought to you by the letter p – you’ll see why in a minute.

I’ve been extremely lucky to work in some of the coolest offices throughout my career. The top spot goes to this non-profit organization based in North Miami Beach. Although we were far from the actual beach, our office was an original Miami Beach house made of coral rock. The house, originally located somewhere closer to the ocean, was going to be demolished until the community preservationists got wind of the plan. In the style of a Coke commercial only aired during the Olympics, at least fourteen different groups, from both the private and public sector, got together to save the house. They actually rolled the house on a semi-truck down the beach and plopped it down where it lives now and turned it into the headquarters of this not-for-profit, which later employed me.

The living room was our lobby. The dining room, the conference center. The kitchen stayed the same. The upstairs bedrooms were converted into offices. And I, I had the master closet as my office. Our office home was maintained by an older gentleman. A wonderful man, who I can only imagine has since passed. He took care of making sure that house looked tip-top. He also helped you if you were having car problems. He was a really nice man. Only he smelled. He smelled really, really bad. Like a dumpster. Only it wasn’t food. More like what pigeons smell like. Millions of them. If they were all living in a dumpster.

Nice guy, though.

And I was incapable of saying anything about his stench. Because he was so nice. Until one day. When the stink just got out of control. It was my fault. I should have never hugged him. But, he brought me doughnuts. How could I not?

Anyway, that day with my belly filled with sugary delights from Dunkin’ I couldn’t stop smelling him everywhere. I mentioned it to a couple of co-workers, probably with chocolate frosting on the side of my mouth, and they agreed that in fact, he was a bit of a stinker. Yet, they were reluctant to confirm that he was particularly stinkier that day. “Maybe we’re just used to it already,” one of my co-workers hypothesized.

My work day ended and I returned home. To my real home. Not made of coral. Where I’m greeted by hugs and kisses from non-stinky people, including my, at the time, brand new puppy. The puppy we were training. The fucking puppy.

“Iris, smell me,” I said.

She proceeded to sniff my hair and my face unfazed. Until she got to a section of my jacket.

“Oh my God. That’s…” and she interrupted herself. I saw the panic in her eyes. The quick thought process of how she going to cover up that the smell on my jacket was indeed puppy piss.  Afraid of what I could be capable of doing to the dog, she continued, “…That’s weird. What is that?”

It was Chilli pee, of course. And it was on my jacket. The jacket I wore all day. The jacket I hugged that sweet old man with, when he brought me doughnuts. The jacket I kept on when I asked my co-workers if they smelled anything funny.

I ended up burning the jacket. And, for revenge, I peed on the dog.