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God spelled backward is dog

January 28, 2011

According to the Book of Genesis, the Lord gave humankind dominion over the animals.

If the Bible is the word of God, then I know one thing about the Almighty: He never had a pug.

I have a pug, and I can tell you straight out, I don't have dominion over him ... and neither does anyone else.

It's not that Brother Phineas the Pug Thug is a mean dog, a bad dog or even a destructive dog. Just is, he marches to the beat of his own drummer - whenever and however he wants.

Trying to dominate Brother Phineas is like trying to control the phases of the moon. You can do whatever dance, perform whatever ritual, or invoke whatever deity you want ... and the results will all be the same - nada.

Still, there are times I've got to give it the good ole college try - for example, with things medical.


On pilling a pug

BP is getting on in years; in fact, if you convert dog years to human ones, you'd find he's as far gone as me. Among the splendors of The Golden Years we now share are diminished muscle mass, increased pudge and stiffer, creakier joints.

As for stiff, creakier joints, mine is in my left knee; BP's is in his front right shoulder. And there's the rub.

As soon as he started limping, I was a mess. Let's face it, I'm a pathetic softy: If my dog's in pain, I'm in pain. I immediately took him to the vet.

It wasn't a big deal, Dr. Kim told me. There were lots of meds for it, and BP got started on the mildest of them. It worked fine for a while; then he started limping again. Again we went back to Dr. Kim, and we got different meds, which worked for a couple of years till he again started limping.

This time, instead of switching his meds, the good doctor prescribed an additional med. This one worked perfectly ... as long as Phineas took them. But for reasons known only to God (perhaps), he wouldn't take the new pill. He'd take his old one just as it was, but absolutely refused to even nibble at the new one.

So how could I get him to take the pill?

How do you get any dog to swallow anything you want him to? Put it in food, of course. I figured it'd be a cinch since I never give BP anything but dry dog food - human food and crappy dog snacks are strictly verboten.

I started with the Old Faithful of canine pill pushers - peanut butter. Just took a decent size chunk, stuck the pill in the middle, held it out to His Royal Dogness' gaping maw and, bingo! Down the hatch it went.

This went on for a week or so, and suddenly he went guerilla on me: He'd take the peanut butter but would work it around in his mouth, then shake his head from side to side, and after three or four good shakes, the pill went flying across the kitchen floor ... and the peanut butter went down the pug.

OK, I figured, we'll just raise the culinary stakes. I put the pill in a chunk of cheese, held it out to him, and it instantly disappeared (as also did the tip of my thumb). I congratulated myself on finding the perfect medium. (It was sharp cheddar, lest you wonder.)

Unfortunately, about a week later, he again whipped the head shake hustle on me and got rid of the pill.

Back to the drawing board, or in this case the fridge. I checked out what was on the shelves that wasn't moldy and settled on mayonnaise. And why not? I love the stuff, so why wouldn't he? I mean, this is a critter who'll eat anything, including cat poop if he gets the chance. He couldn't possibly turn his flat nose up at mayonnaise, I reasoned.

And I reasoned correctly ... for 10 days or so, when I got treated to a virtuoso performance of BP and the Head Shake Boogie.

Next on the agenda was smoked salmon, to the tune of 20 bucks a pound. This had the same grace period, and then the same pill rejection (or more exactly, the same pill ejection).

Previously, I'd broken the pill in two and put it in two different chunks of whatever I was burying it in; now I ground it up in a powder. But no matter what I put it in, he'd eat it for a couple of days and then would refuse to even have a lick of the stuff.

I decided to go back to using the solid half-pills, but had to find a new food. I looked all over the dog food section of the store and settled on Pup-Peroni, a dog version of pepperoni. It looks and smells like pepperoni, and I'm sure it's as bad for dogs as the real thing is for us. No matter. From what I knew, all curs go wild over the stuff. And he was no exception ... until he was an exception.

I decided I had only one more option - something I've always refused to consider: gourmet dog food. It's bad enough I can't stand gourmet people and their fruity lip-smacking and snotty pronouncements, but gourmet dogs? No matter. It was my only choice, and I took it.


Un chien de Paris

The stuff I settled on had a label that showed a plate of something that looked like a meal in a fancy-shmancy Parisian restaurant, and it cost about as much, too. When I got home and opened it, I was knocked out: The stuff not only looked like gourmet food; it smelled fabulous, too. Good thing I'm a vegetarian, I thought, as I spooned some of it in Phineas's bowl, his pill buried deeply within.

He woofed it down, smacked his lips and licked his bowl. He did it the next day, the day after that and the day after that. And then, as I'd dreaded, he somehow woofed his way around the pill.

At this point I was a little less than desperate and a whole lot more than crazy. Phineas and his pill-taking - or more to the point, his pill non-taking - were on my mind constantly. I'd wake up in the middle of the night, with him and his smug little face on my mind. My digestion suffered; I got acid reflux after drinking half a glass of skim milk. I started thinking back fondly to my dogless days, much like some miserably married guy might look back with delight on all the great times he had in the barracks.

Finally, I investigated in detail about the new pill Phineas was taking, trying to figure out what was in it that he found so objectionable. I didn't find that out, but I found out something even more helpful.

This pill, unlike his other one, was not an anti-inflammatory. Instead, it stopped pain impulses from reaching the brain. As soon as I read that, a giant light bulb lit up over my head. Suddenly, I'd solved two mysteries at once: The Baffling Case of the Stubborn Pug, and The Strange Saga of the Deeply Depressed Dog Owner!

Now twice a day I give Phineas his gourmet dog food ... and twice a day I take his pill.

He loves the food and even seems to love me for giving it to him.

He's also started to limp a bit again but thanks to his Peppy Pug Poppers, I no longer feel his pain.



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