Mellow out, dog

For those of us who work alone, our pets serve as our co-workers, our confidants, our sounding boards. But it's a relationship that's often rife with misunderstanding and envy.

Spend much time around a dog, for example, and you might start coveting his lifestyle of ease and simple pleasures. Or, at least, his round-the-clock nap schedule.

But how do our pets see us? When I'm in my home office, with my dog Elvis lazing nearby, is he watching me work? Trying to understand what I'm doing sitting still all day, trapped indoors when it's beautiful outside?

What do our pets think when they see us yakking on the phone for hours? Doesn't a telephone receiver look a lot like a chew toy? Does your pet think you're intently talking to your toy all day? Is he waiting for you to set down the phone so he can take a turn chewing on it?

The psychology of home-office pets has been much on my mind lately because I've enjoyed more "quality time" than usual with Elvis. Due to circumstances beyond my control, I drove halfway across the country with Elvis in the back seat. If you haven't spent three days on the road with a 70-pound dog with halitosis, then, friends, you simply haven't lived.

There was much concern at our house in the days leading up to the trip. Elvis, we realized, almost never travels by car. He only takes a ride when he's going to the groomer or the veterinarian. Fortunately, dogs have short memories. Elvis always is happy to get in the car, even though he hates the usual destinations.

But now we were talking about him spending three days in the car, traveling through unfamiliar territory with its strange sights and foreign smells. How would he react? Would he think we were on our way to the vet? And, as the hours roll past, would he start worrying that such a long vet trip was a signal that he was seriously ill? If it's a ten-minute drive to get a rabies shot, then three days on the road must mean surgery at least, right? The last time he had surgery was when he was neutered. And that's enough to worry anybody.

To prepare Elvis for the trip, I took him on a few short rides around town. More importantly, I consulted with our vet, who had the perfect solution: Drug the dog.

Seems there are doggie sedatives that make car trips one long snooze for a pooch. Give three little pills to Elvis, the vet said, and he'd sleep all day, so groggy he could barely get out of the car at rest stops.

It didn't exactly work that way. Elvis, it turns out, can handle his drugs like an old hippie. The pills made him very relaxed, but not too sleepy. He spent the trip with his head resting in the back window, watching the landscape whiz past. An extremely mellow dog and an absolute pleasure to travel with, if you discount the halitosis problem.

By the end of the trip, I envied Elvis like never before. After three days, I was a jangled, road-weary human with aching muscles, a bad attitude and no appetite. Elvis, on the other hand, was a well-rested, happy dog, though he did seem to suffer from the "munchies."

The sedatives had one negative side effect: Elvis really liked them. Now, he wants to ride in the car all the damned time. Every time he hears the garage door roll up, he starts jonesing for doggie dope. Dude, let's go for a ride.

I drove him to the groomer the other day, and he seemed truly disappointed when our drug-free journey ended after only five minutes. Then he got a bath and a haircut without the benefit of sedatives. Bummer.

We'll get through this rehab period. Elvis eventually will forget those three glorious days of purple haze. And I'll find some way to make him that happy again.

Maybe I'll let him chew up the phone.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Doggie breath? That signals something. If you don't brush his teeth everyday, you need to take him in for a teeth cleaning and gum check. He could have lots of plaque, which could hurt his gums and eventually his heart. In the meantime, check with your vet for chew strips that will help clean his teeth and make his breath sweeter. Remember, his teeth are made out of the same stuff as yours and need to be brushed. Good luck!