Monday, June 20, 2011

Life in the Moment

The other day, I cracked open a bottle of French wine that had been perched in our wine rack for two years.  We had bought it near Paris during the summer of 2009, and I had been saving it for some moment I deemed worthy of a wine bought from a small shop owner in Versailles who spoke very little English.  I have no idea how much this bottle cost, but because it was bought in a foreign place I may never set eyes on again, it was special.  Please note that two Thanksgivings, Christmases, and birthdays had passed, and I chose to open it on an ordinary Thursday evening in June.  There was no special occasion, and because my husband doesn’t drink red wine, I had no one to share it with.  Nevertheless, I popped the cork and enjoyed every sip.  In fact, I savored that bottle into the weekend.  If you’re a wine connoisseur, you might be banging your head against the wall by now, so disgusted by my wasteful act that you’re shouting, “Lindsay, why couldn’t you have waited for a nice peppery steak or at least a pork chop to drink it with?!”  All I can say is that I got tired of waiting.  On that particular Thursday evening, I eyed that wine rack sitting on top of our fridge and was motivated by one single thought: “Life is short.”

You might also think it sad that I was, in part, motivated by my dog. 

Most people would agree that a dog’s whole being is about living in the moment, much like when I grabbed the neck of that bottle and pulled it down to be enjoyed after two long years of gathering dust.  Our greyhound, Izzy, is a great example.  One of the things we will never know her is her past.  She was found as a stray in a Grand Prairie field last summer with no collar and no ear tattoo, the typical mark of a racing greyhound.  And so we will never know the answers to a plethora of questions: How old is she?  Was she a racer?  Did she live in a home?  Is she a mommy?  It’s all a mystery.  But what isn’t a mystery is that our dog, despite all of the unknowns, lives in the present.  She didn’t need psychotherapy sessions or medication to get over things in her past, which quite possibly include starvation, abuse, or being used to hunt coyotes (yes, that happens—more on that later).  All our girl needs to be content is a soft bed, a full belly, and a little lovin’ from her people.  Oh ya, and she also likes a daily romp outdoors and the opportunity to stare down as many squirrels as possible.  But like most dogs, life is simple.  As someone who struggles with contentment, I feel I can take a note about living in the moment from Izzy and our canine friends. 

So I tested this philosophy last Thursday evening, and just for the record, it was totally worth it.  That bottle of French wine was heavenly.    

Saturday, June 11, 2011

One Glorious Afternoon

As I’ve discovered this week, woe to anyone who tries to change their dog’s diet.  Please note: If you have a weak stomach, you may want to stop reading here.  I mean it.  This very next paragraph will be a doozy for you.

When I came home from work this Wednesday, I was greeted with the oh-so-distinct smell of dog poop.  It didn’t take long to discover the source.  As I walked into Izzy’s room, I immediately saw a puddle of watery brown liquid in one corner of the crate, and in the other corner, a very stressed-out dog doing her darndest to get away from the brown liquid.  Turns out there was much more than a single puddle in there.  Upon further inspection, I discovered that there were at least three different consistencies of feces hidden like little treasures for Izzy’s mommy to discover as she cleaned the crate.  How some of it got underneath the crate pad, or how some of it ended up in little drips on the wall, I will never know.  All I know is that our dog quite possibly had the most miserable afternoon of her life.  I kept picturing her whining in urgency, then when no one answered her cries, resigning herself to relieving herself in (and around) her crate, then spending hours curled up like a kitten in one corner, trying  to get away from the stench and the piles of poop.  Poor girl.

Fortunately, this is not a common occurrence.  In fact, this was the first accident Izzy’s had in her crate, and I blame it on myself.  You see, she hadn’t eaten in over 24 hours, and I’m sure that her stomach was so full of acid that it made her sick.  Why hadn’t she eaten?   Again, I blame it on myself. 

Over the course of the six months we’ve had our dog, I’ve managed to create a monster in the form of a picky eater.  Now, to justify my actions a little bit, I have to say that like human diets, there are conflicting opinions everywhere you look about how to feed your dog.  I chose to take the advice I had read in a book about greyhounds, which consisted of adding things like rice, steamed veggies, and cooked meat to dry food.  For months, Izzy loved to eat, and she ate like a queen.  But when she started balding on her neck and thighs, I finally wondered if a change in her diet was in order.  Our vet thought this might be best, too.  It was time to try dog food only.

So, bringing us up to present day and the cause of Wednesday’s glorious exploding diarrhea incident, it turns out that Izzy doesn’t much care for dog food only (surprise, surprise!).  Sometimes she eats, and sometimes she doesn’t.  The good news is that since she’s been on dog food only for the past month, her coat is growing back and she looks healthier than ever.

Thankfully, due to a tip from a friend (thanks, Donna!), I think we’ve discovered a compromise: wet dog food.  We tried mixing a little in with her dry food last night, and she gobbled it right up like the good ole’ days.  Hopefully, this means that her crate will be poop-free from here until eternity.

The moral of the story?  First, I will never let my dog go hungry for more than 24 hours again.  Second, if dealing with a picky eater and cleaning up mounds of feces doesn’t prepare me for human motherhood, I don’t know if anything will.