Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Dogliness Update


the OG: Juice will be 9 years old this year. this blows me away. i’ve had her since she was six weeks old, a time when i used to carry her around in my purse. she weighs 70 pounds now. it’s not an exaggeration to say she’s a stunning dog in every way. no one ever fails to comment on her beauty, to ask what her breed is (shepherd mutt), to notice how soft her fur is, how sweet her demeanor is and how she seems so much younger than her nine years.

i took this for granted, i suppose, figuring she would stay perfect until time immemorial. but then a tumor popped up on her head. i tried to ignore it at first, thinking it was some temporary swelling, maybe a bumpy bite that would go away on its own. i took her to the vet, who said there was no cause for alarm unless the tumor grew.


it grew: and began colliding with my hand every time i pet Juice’s head, reminding me of her age. around that time, Juice also began having accidents, usually when she was stretched out and relaxed, her bladder emptying itself on the floor, the dog bed, sometimes the couch — also reminding me of her age.

i took her back to the vet, where lab results revealed that she had “crystals in her urine,” which could lead to bladder stones, which could lead to surgery. a special diet was required in the form of costly prescription dog food. Juice hated it, and Juice (like me) hates no food, eating pretty much anything that is put in front of her. but here she was skipping meals and lumbering around the house with sad eyes during feedings. this lasted three months, a time when Juice seemed nothing short of miserable, which made me miserable. and yet the crystals weren’t eliminated entirely, only reduced, making me wonder whether there was a better way.


the better way: it came my way during a facial, performed by my awesome facialist Anna, who mentioned that she cooked for her dogs every day. i told her my issues with Juice’s health and she suggested i mix some human-grade kibble with carrots, rice, parsley and flax seed oil. so i did. Juice loved it. even Pinko loved it and Pinko is a picky eater. suddenly, a new doggy diet was born.


months passed: and the diet evolved, so much so that the kibble was eliminated entirely. now they’ll eat almost any vegetable i throw into their bowl. in the photo above, there are carrots, rice, shredded zucchini, cauliflower, butternut squash and sardine oil. and just this week i started adding boiled gizzards to their meals (they are over the moon with that one). meanwhile, i’m eating frozen pizzas from Trader Joe’s.


the new G: Pinko just turned four years old. this also blows me away. we’ve come such a long way when i first got her in 2007 as a birthday gift for Juice. she was a challenging dog then, still is in many ways. she came to me with major food aggression issues that were a bear to work around. but we kept working and she kept improving and i think i did, too, with her teaching me patience, dedication and unconditional acceptance. the last one was the hardest lesson for me to learn, as i was convinced i could turn this new Deuce into my perfect Juice.


no such luck: she was resolute in her Pinko-ness: a charm of extremes that waffles between sassy defiance and insecure neediness. the dog is constantly howling, herding, jumping and inserting herself wherever she wants to be, which is usually right in the middle of where she shouldn’t be.

and then the ears go down and she breaks the sweetness meter with her affection and need for love. she frightens easily and always ends up burrowing into various body parts (from legs to armpit) for safety, where she will hide her whole head until she feels reassured. then she’ll perk up, sass up and steal a toy from Juice’s mouth.

Two-Headed Dog

dog fusion: these dogs could not be more different. i always call Juice the “gateway dog,” as she will turn non-dog-lovers into fans with her effortless charm and easygoing nature. but Cheddar (Pinko’s other, more common name now) is more of an acquired taste. she’s the funny one full of personality — the class clown who sort of annoys you at first, but ultimately wins you over with her heart of gold. to know her is to love her. it can take some effort, but the rewards are divine.


partners in crime: despite their differences, these two make awesome companions for each other, breaking out in spontaneous play constantly. they’ll wrestle, engage in a little tug-of-war, compete for food and attention, pee on the same spots and then snuggle through the night. they are inseparable and love each other first above all else, even above me, which i’ve grown OK with (sort of).


back to the OG: her health is good again. the new diet did much to help her budding bladder stones and crystallized urine. she has stopped wetting herself and seems more joyful and energized. i also had her undergo a local anesthetic to have the tumor on her head removed, which left her physically flawless once again. i’m sure she’ll live forever now.


bonus shot: the costa rican cutie and i took a drive up the 5 freeway for a snow day with the pups, where this awesome shot was taken. Juice LOVED the snow and wanted me to spend all my time lobbing snowballs into her mouth. naturally, i obliged.


symph9 said...

i love your dogs...this almost made me cry as my pooch turns 6 this year. ;-( must grill you on the diet...sounds way better than even the fru fru kibble we give dog.

Anonymous said...

Juice is nine! wow how time flies. i remember when she used to hang out at my place with James as her babysitter, she was just a pup. Yes she is perfect and always has been!

Anyanka said...

The picture of you in the snow is amazing!

p.s. "meanwhile, i’m eating frozen pizzas from Trader Joe’s " - HA HA HA.

d said...

I remember them both as puppies, I couldn't remember that Juice was mostly black. But I never forgot that pink little cast. 9 years, that's about 12 for us ;).

Anonymous said...

I love this game :)

Anonymous said...

found you site over misterwong... but one question do you have twitter or facebook, where i can be connected with you blog...? thanks

Milla said...

on the right sidebar are links to my twitter and facebook.

Anonymous said...

I think you may want to put a facebook button to your site. I just bookmarked the site, but I must do this manually. Simply my $.02 :)

Anonymous said...

Your dogs are so wonderful. Good job Milla.