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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

When Love Becomes Distorted

When does love for your pet go over the edge into distorted wackiness? I think there’s a fine line that starts with your budget. If you want to buy expensive food for your pet to help ensure its health, fine. I think that makes a lot of sense, and I have experience backing up the claim that feeding your pet healthy food can help to ensure a healthier, longer life. I gladly put out the extra dollars to feed both Singer and Dakota high quality food, knowing that in the long run, my vet bills will probably be lower. Hopefully.

Recently, I was at a small locally owned pet store stocking up on food for my pets when I happened upon a new dog product—yak milk bones. I took a look, knowing that Singer will be boarded for a time this Thanksgiving, and me of course feeling guilty. But I was astounded to see the price for a 3.5 oz bone--$18.99! I know the store clerk, a young man named Jake, so I felt comfortable enough to bring up the price with him. He agreed that the bones seem ridiculously pricey. He also felt obligated to point out how long lasting they are, and confirmed that people are buying them. I asked him about cat products that are ultra expensive and he told me that there is such a thing as “gourmet” litter—outrageously expensive litter that cat owners are buying these days. Really. Why, they even have a $350 litter box, called “Litter Robot”! A user says, “At that price, my cat better be pooping gold!”

Here’s a brand new market idea: A pet line for plutocrats. Go for it.

I just have to wonder at the people who are spending that kind of money on their pets. Even those people whose taxes are bound to go up soon (it’s about time!) I’m not jealous, mind you, it’s just that I can think of so many better ways to spend all that extraneous cash on animals. Do those products really benefit the pets or their owners’ egos? How about paying for a pet sitter while you’re gone during the day? Or a dog walker? That way, you can benefit the economy AND benefit your pet! Instead of buying bones that cost more than ribeye steaks, why not sign up your doggie for play dates at the local pet center? Or give your neighbor teen a chance to earn some money by walking your dog? I’m not kidding myself into thinking that millionaires are reading my blog. This is for those people who might be “cheating” by buying those expensive products once in awhile just to make themselves feel good. I confess, I considered for a few seconds buying that yak bone. Then I got a hold of myself. Guilt does strange things to mamas…

I swear, even if I suddenly become a millionaire (no chance), I promise I won’t waste my money on yak bones. Or gourmet litter. Sorry, Singer and Dakota. There’s a limit to my largesse.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Singer's View of the Weekend

I had planned on grooming Singer this weekend myself, I really did. But then other chores and tasks filled my agenda, so I went to the Internet to see if I could find a groomer with an opening this weekend. I lucked out and found a groomer who had an opening Sunday morning. Her shop was a few miles out in a little town called Fitchburg. I was motivated. And Singer needed it!  As you can see from these pictures, taken afterwards, she looks good.

When I went to pick her up, the girl who runs the cash register asked me if she could take her picture with her phone and I said sure. Singer was standing on her grooming table and she shook her head impatiently. I called her and whistled to get her attention, but she gave me this haughty look, like "You don't know what I've had to put up with here this last hour..." and then she again shook her head, so I don't know if the girl got a decent picture or not. But she was good natured about it. On the way out, she nosed another dog waiting to be groomed and I imagined she was transmitting doggy code, "You better watch out for this one...I hear she's from Iowa!" She held her head up high and quick-stepped out of there, not giving any of the other lowly dogs a backwards glance.

I don't want to give you the wrong impression about Singer, she is such a sweetheart, she actually trembles with submissive joy when I come home sometimes. And she prances around the house in happiness other times, so glad to see her family. But she is rather snobbish to strangers. She deigns to allow a stranger to pet her, then noticeably backs off. She gets this distant look in her eye, like she is comparing the stranger to one of her servants back at her mansion. Not that we are rich, but I always wonder if she is reflecting some subtle key she is picking up from me, or if she is just naturally aloof. I asked Jeff about it, and he reminded me that we were told about her "princess" nature when we got her, but still. We don't think of ourselves like this at all. And Saylor wasn't like this, she loved everyone equally. But I guess, like children, some dogs have individual personalities that seem to come from nowhere.

Yesterday, I walked Singer in Garner Park, that lovely hillside park with prairie and woods and even a pond off the trails. A man approached me and I thought, political volunteers are even swarming the parks this weekend looking for voters before the election. But actually, he was a park ranger, I learned after I took my earbuds out and took his card. He explained that this park was a "no dogs allowed" park, and owners were subject to $114 fine. I looked around and started adding up the fine money for him and came up with over $500. He assured me that he didn't want to enforce the law, but he did ask me to contact my alder about proposing a fenced in dog park. Of course, I agreed. He said the idea of a three acre fenced park in the wooded area near the pond would allow dog walkers like me to enjoy the park and we wouldn't be breaking the law. I went home and emailed my alder, expressing my support and offered to give my time if needed. I sent a copy to Josh, the young park ranger, who emailed right away with an "awesome." I still think he acted more like an Obama volunteer than a government worker.

I hope we can construct a dog park. This park has been a favorite for Singer and me, and Saylor's before her. I still worry about allowing Singer to run wild and free with other dogs, but I know she longs to run. It breaks my heart that she hasn't been given the chance since coming into our home to run, but I just haven't been able to trust her to always come immediately when I call her. And I hope the other dogs don't size her up as a prima donna just waiting to be taken down a notch or two. I guess that's my real worry.