Susie/Pepper - our neighbors' little gray-and-white dog who husband Ray and I feared was chasing celestial bunny rabbits - is alive and well! We were delighted when she came out to join us on a recent walk. As was her custom before she became ill, she trotted up our long drive to check out whether Ray had put out a few tasty meat scraps for her or the coyotes ... whichever got to them first.
We learned that Susie/Pepper recovered from kidney failure brought on by something in her diet. I worried that meat scraps might not be good for her and told Ray we'd better make sure only coyotes ate them, but Ray is convinced that the Chinese are to blame. "Don't you remember dogs dying of kidney failure because of contaminated protein imported from China that was used in dog food?"
I'm not sure that melamine-laced dog food caused Susie/Pepper's illness, but it's hard to believe that the shrunken, shaking, frail dog she recently was is now the healthy, frisky dog of yore. Though old in dog years, Susie/Pepper is one tough little pooch.
Ray and I haven't owned a pet since our dog King - progeny of a purebred German shepherd mother and a traveling Siberian Husky father of questionable morals - required euthanasia many years ago. King, along with a great many other deceased Goff pets, lies under Target's parking lot. "No more dogs," Ray said after burying King and splintering his doggie mansion with an ax. "It's too hard to lose them."
I'll say! But I think the joy of owning dogs counterbalances the pain of losing them. My sisters and I still laugh over our first childhood dog, a black cocker spaniel named Ranger, who loved to chew bubble gum. He never learned to blow a bubble, but he certainly gave the gum a lip-smacking workout.
We hosted Thanksgiving at our home this year and one of the overnight guests was our new granddog, an adolescent pup named Brody recently adopted from an animal shelter. Brody is supposedly a mixture of German Shepherd and hound, but all you can see in him is the latter breed. There is not a single item - or portion of human anatomy - in this house that he did not sniff repeatedly.
Daughter-in-law Val requested that we not set the security alarm, a wise precaution because she was up several times during the night to take Brody outside to do his "business." Problem was, the outdoor temperature was sub-freezing. Ray said when he awakened at 6 a.m., Val was outside with Brody on his leash. "Poor little thing," he related, "she was huddled in her coat walking him up and down the sidewalk."
Val has another dog concern that likely was keeping her awake. Her father, George, is visiting Latin America for a month and, although he once contacted her through an Internet cafe there, she has no way to reach him to tell him that Yetta, his German shepherd, is in a veterinary hospital in Oregon. After five days there, the bill had already reached $1,200 ... and that was more than two weeks ago.
Yetta, like Susie/Pepper, is an old dog, but she is George's longtime companion, and he is very fond of her. As the bill mounted, Val - Yetta's long-distance guardian in her father's absence - was unsure of what to do. She talked to her brother, and Kevin was adamant: "You can't put Dad's dog down."
Val was relieved to learn that she and Kevin were in agreement. She is further relieved that the latest daily report indicates Yetta is improving. It would be terrible to spend so much money and lose the dog anyway. Still, what price can you put on love for a dog?
Well, when George returns, I think we're going to find out.