Rating the Beagle-ish

From this Healthy Pets article, 10 Beagle Fun Facts (as they pertain to Calvin the beagle-ish):

1. They’re thousands of years old

They mean the breed, of course, which is interesting from the perspective that humans, in thousands of years, have not been driven absolutely batshit insane by their vocal proclivities and neuroses. Cal would have us all believe that he is a mere 5 years old, but I will also accept the possibility that he is timeless and will somehow be involved in calling forth the apocalypse.

2. The first beagles were miniature

At 21″ tall, Cal is–by beagle standards–immense. By Cal’s sleeping preferences and apparent level of self esteem, Cal is also a pocket beagle. Teeny tiny.

3. Beagles have white-tipped tails

Check!

4. Beagle means “loudmouth” in French

Check check CHECK CHECK CHECK OHMYDOG CHECK.

5. They’re very popular in the US

Cal thinks this is terrible and cheap and he’d like to see this change. He is a very lovable fellow, but only after a protracted getting-to-know-you period in which, preferably, no eye contact is made. He once maintained absolute stoic silence and noble comportment as a very charming 7 year old girl pet him and attempted to wheedle her mother into adopting him. The mother was not taken with Cal’s chilly exterior and they were thus proven unworthy. This, he feels, is the direction in which beagles, as a breed, should be heading.

6. Snoopy is a beagle

Cal does not think it would be very fun to strap on goggles and fly an airplane. In fact, he thinks that sounds dreadful.

7. Queen Elizabeth I loved beagles

Cal is deeply suspicious of the monarchy, stopping just short of describing himself as an anti-monarchist. While he does appreciate its historical and romantic aspects, he fears it might be a bit superfluous and overly ostentatious in this day and age. That does not mean that he won’t accept a Prince Charles and Princess Di commemorative plate as a 6th birthday gift. He’s not some troglodyte, after all. And he’s sure the Queen took wonderful care of her tiny beagles.

8. Beagles in the White House (LBJ had 2–Him and Her)

Cal is appalled by LBJ’s lack of creativity in naming. He’s also appalled by the lack of beagles in the White House currently, as such residence would be a disposition befitting the breed as he conceives it. Thanks, Obama!

9. Barry Manilow loves beagles

Calvin likes Copa Cabana. Win-win.

10. The US Department of Homeland Security has a Beagle Brigade to find smuggled contraband agricultural products

Cal believes he should have a Homeland Security Brigade to keep people, unknown dogs, and the occasional wind-blown leaf away from him.

Sadpants Puppies and the People Who Take Them Out to Pee Every Ten Minutes

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Solitary Convalescence

We had a pretty decent snow storm on Saturday: snow, ice, everything freezing, nobody clearing the roads because Saturday. It was a good day to stay inside, and that’s exactly what we did at Chez Critter. In fact, it was such a good day to stay inside that my dear beagle-ish, who is way beyond his threshold of tolerance for cold white crap between his toes, decided to do his part to render the outdoors entirely unnecessary. He peed and pooped as soon as he hit the basement enroute to morning outside time and, once finished, looked at me (wearing one snow boot and a look of great consternation) like, “No worries. I took care of everything. Back upstairs?”

There was one post-breakfast puke incident, in which it appeared a dog–I surmised it was Karmann, as she looked a bit sad–apparently exploded in the hallway, right where the gaps between the floor boards are greatest. But, emesis aside, we were all able to slide into a nice, cozy, “so glad we don’t need to go out there!” Saturday routine pretty easily. Dogs and cats napped, people vegged, all was well.

You’d think, by now, that I’d know that warm, safe, comfortable feeling to be a harbinger of critter doom, but I am apparently the eternal optimist. So instead of quaking in fear of what unnamed horror lay before me, I just chilled, unsuspecting, until around 8pm, when Karmann became agitated.

I assumed it was her now-requisite post dinner pee, so I took her outside where she squatted quickly and for a very long time. I felt happy that this was clearly a need met, and we returned to the house. Karmann laid down. I settled in. Schmoop and I continued the movie we had paused.

And then, five minutes later, Karmann was back at it, grumbling and shouting in a manner that typically suggests she needs to poop. This would be the third poop of the day, which is weird for her,  but sure, whatever, pup. Let’s go for a walk.

We went for a walk.

And Karmann squatted.

And she squatted some more.

And I gently jogged her around the baseball field in half a foot of snow because, usually, all that squatting means her hips are bugging her and she can’t comfortably assume poop position.

And she pooped, and we carried on.

And she squatted.

And squatted.

And she waddle-squatted.

And I realized something was very wrong indeed.

So, if any of my neighbors are reading this, here is the explanation I’m sure you’ve been waiting for: I was sticking my head under my squatting dog to see what, if anything, was happening. As it turns out, nothing was happening. Which was good for my under-dog head location, but bad for my dog. So we hustled home, with Karmann tugging and sniffing and squatting and, now, whimpering, and me thinking about that post-breakfast puke and the fact that Karmann had actually been pretty subdued all day and, come to think of it, she did drink a lot of water.

By the time we got home, I was pretty sure she had a UTI. I took her inside, told Schmoop I thought something was up, then went out with a flashlight to inspect the site of the epic post-dinner pee. There was no pee. Note: I’d just like to give a little shout-out to snow for making my life easier and being quite helpful in this one, very limited, context.

I told Schmoop she needed to go to the vet, and we set out to shovel and de-ice the driveway. Because snowstorm. Note: I kinda sorta rescind that shout-out, snow, because you were a pain in my ass in this other, much larger, context.

I took her to the emergency vet that I don’t particularly like but had the advantage of proximity, because I figured a probable UTI was straightforward enough that it didn’t warrant risking life and limb to spend twenty minutes on frozen highways to get to my preference. By the time we got there, she was a hot little mess: shaking, panting, whining, tugging to go outside. She hid from anyone who came to pet her.

They got us into the exam room and she immediately peed on the floor. As the tech filled a syringe from the puddle, I could see that it was bright pink. The vet came in several minutes later and informed me that their urine wouldn’t be picked up until Monday, though they were pretty sure it was a UTI so let’s start her on Clavamox. I explained that she’d had UTI’s before, but never this acute, and he suggested x-rays to make sure there were no issues with stones, since the urinalysis would take forever. I agreed, eager for peace of mind because oh my god, I do not do critters peeing blood very well at all, as it turns out.

No stones, but $125 well-spent, given the behavior I was about to go home to.

Karmann spent the better part of the night needing to go out every five to ten minutes to leave little dribbles of what looked like pure blood. If you’re wondering, no. No, there is no real point in coming inside when you’re operating at those intervals. Because as soon as you remove your coat and soggy boots, you are putting them back on. I do not recall having ever seen Karmann so agitated and clearly uncomfortable.

Because I had to do a nine mile run on Sunday, and because we weren’t sure how long this was going to last and he would not be able to do it Sunday night before work, Schmoop volunteered to stay downstairs with Karm so that I could go to bed and get some sleep. All the brownie points are become his.

I may have laid in a bed, but quality sleep was not a thing that happened for either Cal or I. He would get up at intervals and tap his way over to the gate at the top of the stairs, disrupting whatever level of dozing I’d accomplished. And I could hear the door going all night. Eventually, when we traded shifts Sunday morning, so that Schmoop could go to bed, he said the intervals could be expanded to about thirty minutes, so long as she was being scritched.

The wildcard, as it turned out, was Cal. He had been crazy excited to get downstairs to her, only to be greeted with curmudgeonly indifference. He took the bed she wanted, so she would pace and beg to go out every ten minutes. And the staring. Oh, the staring. Eventually, stupid human got the gist and I sent Cal upstairs to sleep with Schmoop, so that Karmann could convalesce in peace and solitude. She sacked out pretty quickly after that, and napped for a couple hours before she needed to go out.

Antibiotics are on board and clearly working, though she’s still snoozy and in no mood to have second choice of beds. Cal seems to have caught on and is waiting for her to settle before selecting his own resting spot. I’m hanging out with them and staring at Karmann to make sure she’s still breathing and seems comfortable, because I’m a lunatic.

But I’m a lunatic who accomplished a nine mile run in laces-high slush after minimal sleep and a night of a blood-peeing dog, so I’ve got that going for me, at least. Running for Critters stops for no horrifying medical events, human or canine.

No, Seriously, I Really Mean it This Time.

Teetering precariously on the edge of the step. Just like me. Except replace "step" with "sanity."

Tiger teetering precariously on the edge of the step. Just like me. Except replace “step” with “sanity.”

It’s been almost two months. My goodness. I actually feel slightly awkward about this because if you did get any kind of kick out of my blog then you know that two months could not possibly have elapsed without incident.

Nay.

The past two months have included the following (just to catch you up):

  • A Calvin/Karmann near escape on Halloween, which resulted in me unleashing a torrent of questionable language while trying to shove bouncing puppies back into the house as legions of six year olds and their horrified parents gawped. I gave them extra candy.
  • A Karmann poopstrike.
  • Suggestions that Karmann may be developing Canine Cognitive Dysfunction.
  • Denial.
  • Barking. A lot of barking.
  • Running for Critters hustle.
  • Extreme Nighttime Naughtiness.
  • PLAGUE OH MY GOD.
  • Knee injury.
  • Mort parachuting from the kitchen counter onto Karmann’s back, in the middle of a dog snit that started because Calvin had the gumption to smell a smell that should have been her smell ENTIRELY.
  • Nigel being pretty benign.

Continue reading

WHAT NO OH MY GOD STOP

Moon. Mark my words: if this shit doesn’t stop I will find a way to shoot your sorry ass RIGHT OUT OF ORBIT.

I spent the overwhelming majority of last night flipping the lamp on and off as I refereed two pacing, eternally nesting, bed-thieving dogs.

*pace pace pace*

*thunk*

*dig dig dig*

*staaaaaaaarrrre*

Repeat.

Repeat.

Repeat.

All this after taking them out a thousand times because they spent the early portion of the evening sitting and staring at me. Just staring. Boring little puppy eye-sized holes into my face.

So I would take them out and they’d be all, “nah, it’s wet out here. Inside.”

So we would come inside an they’d park their asses in front of me, like, “I do need to pee tho.”

Repeat.

Repeat.

Repeat.

*pace pace pace*

*chugs bottle of rescue remedy, chases it with bottle of bourbon*

Repeat.

Repeat.

Repeat.

Nictating Lids, Success!

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Lest anyone think that my days with puppies are always a disaster, I am pleased to report that Schmoop and both pups and I made a very successful repeat trip out to the site I’m working on. Sure, Cal got a little frisky with the rangers as they drove by on their four wheeler. Twice. And at one point he had dogs on the other side of the river barking in response. But it was otherwise a fun day of putzing around the woods, smelling things and then peeing all over them.

The dogs, that is. I just took photographs and recorded coordinates.

And now, I am even more pleased to report, I have two pooped puppies.

Quality Time With the Beagle

Wilderness Beagle

Wilderness Beagle

I am an architectural historian. 

I can finally say that without wincing just a little, because in addition to seven years of school, more loans than I care to think about, and a dogged determination, I finally have my first freelance project documenting non-contributing structures at a National Historic Site waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay out in the country. Until today, I had been there exactly one time, during which visit I made three critical observations. 1) it is remote; 2) it is very large; 3) it is practically empty. From these observations, a formula was created: 

(remote wilderness + empty estate (huge land area))^2 = (City Girl freaked the hell out)^1,000,000 

I don’t even know if that’s a real equation. I’m an architectural historian.

Suffice to say that this urban explorer does not feel particularly safe in large swaths of empty wilderness. And I mean, we’re talking hundreds of acres. To reach the furthest flung structure, my round trip is a couple miles of trail. To hit all the structures we’re approaching six-ish miles, during which time I may not see another soul. So I’ve been kind of terrified of getting started, on account I’m fairly certain I’ll either be eaten by a bear, or accidentally shot by a hillbilly. In the very least, I had already confirmed that a lot of nature–bugs most especially–was going to touch me. 

As it happens, however, I came up with solutions to these problems. For the bugs, I purchased a DEET product so strong it warns me not to apply it to skin or synthetic fabrics. For the risk of nature contact, I wear pants, my Doc Martins, as much shirt as I can handle without incurring heat stroke, and a hat. 

And for the scary carnivores and hillbillies, it turns out that anti-social, shrieky beagle-ish I have comes in handy. 

So, armed with pesticides, a lot of clothing, and Calvin, I set off to get some work done in the desolate rolling hills of southwestern PA. 

But Fate, she is a cruel mistress. 

As soon as we turned into the parking lot, I realized I was being bitch slapped by Fortuna. There were, like, ten cars in the lot. Which is a metric fuckton of cars for a place that is literally twenty miles from nowhere. And all of the cars were full of people with dogs and babies. Babies placed into absolutely enormous and very threatening (to a beagle) strollers. Strollers the size of Hummers, as far as the eye could see, being pulled by dogs. I’m sure that was Cal’s first impression of the place. 

Yesterday, somebody dribbled liquishit around the bedroom while the humans were gone. We didn’t know which puppy. Today, I discovered it was Calvin. Not thirty seconds after popping out of the car and into a post-apocalyptic world where dogs and babies conspire to end us all by mowing us down with their twelve ton prams, Cal had several bouts of explosive diarrhea. 

Where I had expected peaceful desolation and an exhausting pupwalk, I was now faced with congestion and a digestively unsound, and increasingly anxious, wee hound. 

For the record, given all the ridiculous disasters around which I routinely tap dance in a performance I call “My Life,” I would eventually like for something to go as planned. I don’t want to be a hose beast but I really, really feel like I have it coming to me. 

Cal’s intestinal disturbance immediately removed the most distant structures from the realm of possibility, as I had no intention of marching him around in the heat with belly troubles. So that meant we had to stick close to the main structure which, of course, is where all the people and their giant, ravenous babies and hellhound-drawn carriages were. We knocked out an entry gate just before a stroller threatened, and then made our way to an old road trace before being chased into the woods, twice, by hikers with dogs. We set out to pick up a grave site, but were cut off by a meandering couple and a hoard of shrieking children who, I’m made fairly certain by their behavior, are parent-less and living, Lord of the Flies-style, on the property. 

All things being equal, Calvin really did pretty well. There was some barking, but no real screaming. And toward the end of our mostly futile afternoon, he seemed pretty well desensitized to ordinary, ambulating people and ceased expressing opinions about them altogether. 

I called it a day and we drove off the get fuel. Inocuous, no?

No. Because WHY ARE ALL THE GAS STATIONS IN RURAL ALMOST WEST VIRGINIA FULL SERVICE?????

I pulled up to a pump, was shutting down and locating my wallet when Cal suddenly lost his shit. I didn’t attempt to calm him down because, frankly, a stranger walking up to my car and fiddling with my gas cap is not something I really want him to be retiring about. I stared in horror, for a moment, before I thought to ask if all the pumps were full service. Gas guy confirmed and I said, over beagle-ish shrieks, that I’d just hit the next station. He laughed and carried on and said it didn’t matter because it was all the same price. 

Friend. Dear friend. Stretch the limits of your imagination and try to consider that cost is not my greatest immediate concern, here. I’m losing six decibels of hearing per second and I don’t have that much to spare NOW STOP TOUCHING MY GAS CAP AND LET ME LEAVE. 

I had to pass three more service stations before I found one that would let me pump my own fuel. And in that time, my GPS lady, apparently uncharitably disposed toward my frequent redirects to check gas stations, decided that I had some geographical comeuppance due in the form of patently refusing to take me to an interstate. So despite 1.5 uneventful rounds trips to the site, I was paraded all through the countryside to the tune of an additional forty-five minutes on the road, and threatened with a toll road (what even is cash?) before I finally overrode her with Google Maps on my phone. 

From beginning to end, Cal pup and I had five gloriously dysfunctional hours of adventure today, and the little guy is now sacked out at my feet. So hard to be Calvin, even on Small Hound Road Trip days. 

 

 

Stoned, Immaculate

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chilling better through chemistry

I’m having one of those synergistic moments where I keep bumping into the same topic everywhere around the intertubez–even on blogs and pages that aren’t immediately related to the topic. That topic being the use of medication, specifically for dogs, specifically for anxiety, specifically-specifically about how they should be an absolute last resort after years of training has proven ineffective. As the steward of Calvin, the medicated Beagle-ish seen above relaxing through thanks to the wonders of Trazodone, I have feels about this. And with the disclaimer that I am not a veterinary or behavioral professional (although I am besties with a vet tech and I have stayed at a Holiday Inn Express a time or two, just saying) my feels are as follows: 

If you have allergies, you take an antihistamine. Yes? 

Or if you have acid reflux, an ulcer, or the like, you take a Proton Pump Inhibitor or an H2 suppressor. Right?

And if you’re one of the 20% of Americans (as of 2010) reportedly taking medication for an anxiety or behavioral disorder, you take your meds and probably expect Judgy McJudgerson’s to shut their fat faces about the fact that you take medication for a medical condition. Correct?

But you expect your dog to manage a medical condition without medication because somebody told you it wasn’t a medical condition so much as the fact that your sweet little puppy is actually a brutal dictator who keeps a copy of Mein Kampf stashed beneath his pup-r-pedic bed and if you just showed him who’s boss and took him for longer walks he would be normal. In other words, you have a chronically stressed out dog? It’s your fault and you’re doing it wrong and your dog is LAUGHING AT YOU every time you turn your back, and he’s calling all his puppy friends and telling them what a sucker you are because he totally rules this roost, he says, as he kicks back on your couch and puts his feet up on the coffee table. 

No seriously. I had a trainer once tell me that that was basically what Karmann was doing when she barked at squirrels. Kicking her feet up. Owning me. That’s another story, though. 

Ok, so look. The above makes a few assumptions, chief among them being that you have a chronically anxious dog and you’ve worked with him and you meet his physical needs and he’s been to the vet and you’re at the point where everyone is sort of scratching their heads and making up back stories for why your dog is so awfully awful and averse to learning and normalcy. It assumes you’re at the point where maybe a vet that you trust has thrown down the M word for your consideration and you’re like, “Yeaaaaahhhhhhh ummmmm . . . anti-depressants are an absolute last resort for my dog, because he’s a dog and, like, I mean, HE’S A DOG and that seems weird and, like, my family is going to laugh at me and buy me a Cesar Milan book if I tell them the dog is taking an anti-depressant.”

And if you’re at that point, can I just say, no shame. Seriously. I have been there, and a teensy little part of me still fights going back there. It is counter-fucking-intuitive in our culture–that condemns human beings for taking human medication to help with anxiety and other mental health problems–to accept that not even your dog can pull himself up by his bootstraps.

But here’s the thing. Stuffy nose? Decongestant. Infection? Antibiotic.

Anxiety disorder? Anxiety medication. 

Some people can’t deal on their own–they need help to get them to a place where they can learn and adopt better approaches to various situations. Why is it so hard for us to extrapolate that such a condition can occur for some dogs? And further, that when such a condition occurs in a dog, why is then so difficult to make the leap and medicate for it? Karmann has Addison’s Disease, I don’t refuse to give her prednisone and cross my fingers that more rigorous training and better exercise will somehow force her adrenals to do their job, so why would I apply the same logic to Cal’s anxiety issue and wait tentatively for his brain chemistry to correct itself just because we walked three miles today, instead of two?

The most common undercurrent that my spidey-sense picks up in all these medication-as-last-resort discussions is not the long-term effects of medicating a dog (and hey, that’s legit no matter the species), it’s the weird insinuation that medicating a chronically anxious dog would somehow be cheating. To which I have only one response, ever, and that is: you know that’s not how it works at all, right? 

I didn’t just chuck a Prozac down Cal’s throat and *WHAM!* instanormal. 

I don’t give him a Trazodone before a particularly stressful event and then proceed to bring the pain. 

Administering behavioral meds will never allow you to abdicate your exercise/training/need-meeting responsibilities to your dog. Giving her a valium doesn’t instantly turn her into a bored housewife who eats two martinis for lunch, and it won’t make the Rolling Stones write a song about her, either. 

It allows them to learn. 

That is all. The right med or cocktail of meds doesn’t turn your dog into slug, or suck their energetic joy. It allows them to learn new behaviors where they would otherwise whip themselves into such a frenzy of fear and anxiety that they would be incapable of learning those coping behaviors. 

Yesterday I took Cal to the vet. I gave him a full dose of Trazodone before we went, knowing that the vet is a horrifying place for him. Just about a year ago I did the same thing–took Cal to the vet–without the Trazodone. 

Last year, he couldn’t be examined without a muzzle. He barked, and freaked out, and was, as he has always been since his arrival, seriously under weight. 

This year, he’s gained 7lbs and is finally at a healthy weight, and although he was clearly nervous, he remembered to look to me for help navigating the situation. No muzzle was needed, and he willingly approached both the vet and the tech, before AND after the exam, and took cookies from them. 

Six months ago, a full dose of Trazodone would have bought us enough time to remove ourselves from a situation he couldn’t handle. Yesterday, Cal powered through a 1/2 hour vet appointment. The amount of meds didn’t change; the meds cannot in any way be held singularly responsible for the difference between six months ago and yesterday. What made the difference is their ongoing deployment in a (positive, non-putative) training routine to help him learn how to deal with stressors. The meds helped him learn. 

They helped him learn. 

They helped him learn.

For me, overcoming the, “What do you mean, my dog needs Prozac?” issue was a struggle since I, myself, don’t like taking meds for anything. I would prefer–and wouldn’t we all?–to have a perfectly healthy dog who doesn’t need any sort of pharmacological intervention. But I don’t have that. I have a dog who needed more help than any sort of training, alone, could provide, and I had to decide between giving him that help, or doing nothing and hoping that his truly awful interaction with the world around him would just magically disappear and, more importantly, not cause him continued pain and stress. In my mind, failure was not admitting that he needed that extra help. Failure would have been to refuse that help and continue allowing him to lead an uncomfortable, perhaps even psychologically harmful, life. When you look at it like that, the choice shouldn’t be a difficult one. 

Your dogs comfort and safety shouldn’t be an inverse moral judgement on your choices as a dog steward. And if somebody tries to make it that, tell them to fuck off to the shrink and get their own prescription, because they’re clearly a miserable soul. 

I hear Trazodone works wonders. 

 

 

The Puke Moon

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It happens every so often. I’ve posted about it before. There are times–mysterious, sacred, spiritual times–when all the house critters are united by a common thread . . . And they all start puking.

The Puke Moon.

We are currently under the influence of The Puke Moon.

We had a disastrous weekend. I will spare you the details but highlights include me getting stung in the neck by a bumblebee, Cal spontaneously freaking out while alone and scratching the crap out of our bedroom door while we were away, and Schmoop gesticulating in such a manner that he dislodged his favorite sunglasses from the top of his head, sending them flying out the window of the car, on the parkway, where they were immediately run over.

So, as a kind gesture to erase the negative juju, Schmoop bought the pups some all-natural cheese cookies yesterday. We feed raw, and the pupsnacks are generally liver or kidney jerky and something called a lamb puff, so the cheesey cookies, being grain-based, were the equivalent of doggie junk food. A little can’t kill them, right?

As it turns out, no, won’t kill them. It will make them turn their stomachs inside out, though.

Shortly after eating his 3 cookies, Cal started with the lip licking. It died down, though, and I charged brazenly ahead with critter dinner. That was a bad idea. Because during human dinner on the patio, Cal became frantic, trying to eat my dead plants, and the grill cover, and neurotically licking the concrete floor, and I knew what was coming as frantic consumption attempts only ever lead one place with him: the evacuation of more food than he could ever possibly have eaten–in his entire life, let alone for dinner–by volume.

Calvin is magical, he creates matter. Being the source of All Things in the universe may explain his mental state. We may be star dust, but star dust is actually Calvin poop.

After puking all over the place the boy pup settled . . . Until 10:30. When the frantic need to consume returned. Except there was nothing left in him to evacuate, so I hauled myself out of bed and we came downstairs where I could keep an eye on him as he rode out the nausea. By happenstance, he finally settled around 1:30, about 30 minutes after I finally gave him a Gas-X, and a little later we tottered back upstairs.

And then Karmann woke me at 6. Puking.

And then at 11, Mort puked twice.

So I’m calling it: Puke Moon. Nigel hasn’t started yet, but he can’t possibly be far behind.

So excited for the next 12 hours!

Call Me Androcles

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I am capital-D doped at the moment, in the thrall of codeine cough syrup while convalescing, Victorian-style, with a summer grippe. I am so entirely overcome with illness that, for the past two days, my poor dogs’ morning walkies have consisted of some bleary bumbling between the front and back yards while I try to keep my lungs within the confines of my body.

My identification as a Roman slave has nothing to do with codeine, though. Honest. My fascination with the way the rain drops glint like little rainbow sparklies on the hemlocks outside my window? Yeah, that’s probably the codeine. And my recently-discovered superpower of being able to zero in on fur tufts alight in the window breeze, to the utter exclusion of all other sensory input? Admittedly, that might also be the (MAGICAL!) codeine. But I’m totally, and non-delusionally Androcles because Calvin made me him by being a lion who acts like a dog.

This is all making sense now, right?

While on our sad, drowsy shuffle through the front yard this morning I was busily honking apologies to the pups for the lame walk, while imploring them to please pee quickly because mama’s time on earth is rapidly dwindling, when–miracle of miracles–Cal appeared to heed my pleas. He lifted a leg on the boxwood and just as I coughed out a strangled “good boy!” he yelped and collapsed into a tripod while frantically chewing on his front right paw.

It took me roughly 32 minutes to process what was going on, but then my new super power kicked in and I rapid-focused on a three inch piece of jagger bush attached to my beagle-ish via his paw pad.

This was terribly disturbing for me in my addled state.

It also involved solving complicated problem sets to work out how vegetation could become stuck to a dog, as well as examination of concepts like “puncture,” and an inappropriate sidebar with myself about where a jagger bush branch would even come from because there are none in our yard, or in either of the neighboring yards and—*dog continues gnawing on foot*

Oh right. Situation. Requires solution that does not involve ingestion of thorns by anxious puppy.

On it.

So, Cal is notoriously squeamish about his tootsies. So squeamish that it took an inordinately long time to teach him the requisite “shake,” and even still he will not do it if anything in his environment is out of place. He will not shake with someone he does not know. He will not shake with a trusted individual if said individual is in the presence of an un-trusted individual. He will not shake if he suspects the shake may be preceding an even more unpleasant request of his patience. When he passed the “dog tolerates physical examination” portion of his Canine Good Citizen test, the look on his face as I picked up his paw could have gotten me hanged for animal abuse by 99% of PETA’s membership base.

I have no idea how his groomer manages to trim his nails, but I imagine it involves a double bourbon, a tranq dart, and kevlar gloves.

Suddenly, though, I am Androcles after a week long bacchanalia and I am in the cave with a imperiled lemon spotted lion.

And here’s where I discovered my second opiate-induced superpower: total chillaxness in the face of life-threatening situations. Or at least icky ones, anyway. Because without giving it much additional thought, I honked another quick apology to Cal, told him this might hurt but I’d make it quick, lovingly grabbed his paw, removed the thorn, rubbed the thorn hole, set his violated tootsies on the sidewalk, and kissed his little noggin.

I lost no limbs in the process.

Which is when, even in my semi-stupor, I discovered Cal had developed a superpower of his own: a modicum of trust. Throughout the speedy transaction, he never pulled away, bared teeth, licked lips, growled, or otherwise expressed any fear or displeasure. He just let me help him, even though he was in pain and the assistance required me to touch his paw.

I have always been *reasonably* certain that, if we were pitted against each other in gladiatorial combat, Cal would not eat me. But now I’m almost, like, 100% certain. Say, 95%. A very confident 95%.

I leave a 5% uncertainty margin because presumably other animals would be present, and calmness and self-control in the face of other quadrupeds is a superpower that, uh, well, we need to work on it a little more.

Later, though. After a plague nap.

All joking aside, I feel like this is huge. I realize he needed help and I was the only game in town, but he didn’t *have* to consent as readily as he did. He made the decision, despite a stressor, to let me do something he doesn’t generally like without any significant communication that he didn’t like it. That’s lunar landing-style major.

MY LITTLE BOOGER IS GROWING UP!