Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Doggy Bag Wave

Here in Portland, Oregon, when we're not huggin' trees, or beautifying our standard issue one quarter-acre lots, we're taking care of our dogs, feeding them the finest dog foods (available only at the vet), playing with them, snuggling and petting them, or walking them through the family friendly hood. I love this town.

As I have mentioned before in my blog entry titled Where Bitches Pee, it is absolutely incumbent upon the dog walker to remove all doggie excrement from neighbors lawns and gardens, by using any hand protective measures possible, a plastic grocery sack, bread bags, those gauzey thin transparent things the newspaper lands in, or, in our case, special 9"x 12" non-gusseted blue plastic bags, designed and sold specially to the discerning dog owner for pick up and discardment of canine feces, which come in a roll of 15, and actually attach to the 20' retractable yuppie dog leash I use by means of a little round container in the shape of a fire hydrant, or, in the case of my wife Marie, who prefers the multicolored single length leash style, a doggie bag container in the shape of a bone, or "boney" as we dog owners may be sometimes heard to utter in an excited tone, as in "Pippi, where's your boney?"

We have two dogs, both bichon frises, The Precious Pippi and Poppi, and the three of us, Marie, Blaine and I, pamper them relentlessly. As chief dog walker, I take them out 5 times a day, for them to do their doggie bizness, sniff other dogs pee scent to their hearts content, get their extracurricular petting from neighbors and passersby, and to take their requisite dumps. I hold both leashes in my left hand, generally, and when its time to pull out the doggie bag from its little plastic fire hydrant home, I do so with my right hand, and then, on the rest of the walk, carry that used bag in the same right hand. Oops, all out of hands!

Portland is a smallish town, and I have lived here for most of my life, so occasionally, a car will pass by, as I walk my dogs , and honk a friendly honk, the car horn of a friend, maybe a business associate, a neighbor, my sister. It's at those times I find myself stuck for an appropriate response, hands full of leashes and dog poop, but I give it my best shot. That's me above in pre-poop scoop mode, waving the empty hand in bag salute, fully ready to greet a pal or pick up shit. When you see me do this, please know I am just trying to be polite.

And of course, many times, I have already scooped the poop, when an old high school pal, or my wife's boss, come rolling by in their corn oil powered cars, so I offer the view next of what they might see. That's me again, charming and delighted to see you, saying hi with my blue bag plumb full of doody. Nice and friendly fella, that Ric.

But walking and coddling our dogs is not all we dog owners do for our pets, as was the case this Fall as we faced life threatening illnesses with both of them. Pippi, the elder stateswoman, and boss-o-me, stared down pancreatitis, a malady common to bichons, and, gratefully, has come through with colors flying. But two weeks ago, the world's sweetest bichon, our perfect Poppi, began showing signs of a back or neck issue, and has been saved by herniated disc surgery. In two weeks, she'll have about 30 stitches removed, (staples). meanwhile she's feeling much better, but still in some pain, so we are confining her in her new styley green canvas kennels (one for each floor) and filling her with meds, including codiene and 5mg valium. Here she is tethered to the bed in my studio, on a very short leash, mugging in my baseball hat, which, usually, she will shake off in about 2 seconds, but, well, she's tranqued up.

We love our dogs so much, they are truly a part of the family, and losing one them just isn't an option. We are thankful that we have dog insurance, which will pay for about half the expense of this latest round of vet bills, but where these guys are concerned, it's gonna be a small price to pay to see them both healthy again.

So when you're drivin' by later, and see me out on the corner of 26th and S.E. Madison, and I raise my right hand and send the doggy bag wave your way, all smiley and rosey cheeked, know one thing. Pickin' up crap twice a day for years has begun to feel more like meditation and less like drudgery, and I'm so damn glad my dogs are still kickin'! I mean, these here little live stuffed animal ones.

My story in annoying detail:

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