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The Dog Days of my Life

Kay headshot

This is the face of a dog that hates the car, but just realized she smells fries…

Apparently, when I put a photo of my dog Nellie in the last blog, I got some of you excited…and then annoyed that there was nothing else in the post about her. All right, folks. I can take a hint!

I haven’t really blogged about her before, but Nellie is our 13-year old rescued Pomeranian. We got her from Roger’s Rescue from Petfinder when she was 10 months old; she came from a breeder in [information redacted] whose method of breeding was to let dogs do what they do and donate the ones that don’t fit the current model of Pomeranian beauty to the rescue market. About the time we were looking for a Pomeranian, this individual dumped 50 dogs on to the rescue market. Win?

We saw Nellie on Petfinder. She was black (yes, they come in black), twice the size a pom should be and had a much longer nose, but, on the bright side, she had the sweetest disposition ever. We had to drive up to Allentown to meet her, but it was definitely a “like” at first site. Basically, we liked her and she decided that she could deal with us.

Lani-our beagle husky mix

Lani: This is what a beagle-husky mix looks like

Why a Pomeranian? Did you know that you have a certain period of time to get your kids acclimated to animals? I was 12 when we adopted Lani, a beagle-husky. (Before you ask, the poor Beagle was the mother. ) However, when my husband and I were looking for a dog, it quickly became obvious that I was allergic to most dogs, even the ones labeled hypoallergenic. I was finally reduced to petting dogs at yard sales and then sniffing my hands. No luck, until I petted a very disinterested Pomeranian, and was fine. Yes, Pomeranians are absolutely the least hypoallergenic dog you can have but apparently only the spitz line of dogs, including Pomeranians, were grandfathered into my immune system. Thank you, Lani.

So, we fell in love with Nellie. She tolerated us and for the first six months was the most biddable, agreeable dog in the world. Then, it was like a light-bulb went on over her head: she realized that for the first time in her life she had a choice in what happened to her. She had RIGHTS. Biddable? Pfaugh. Tractable? Phooey. It was like my dog stood up one day and declared that she was mad as hell and wasn’t taking it anymore.

Nellie licking her lips over Bryan's peanut butter toast

In retrospect, it was around this time we should have figured out we were in trouble.

Don’t get me wrong, she still mostly tows the line, but since then she’s become the most cunning rules lawyer I’ve ever met. We taught her that if she dropped something she wasn’t supposed to have, she gets a really good treat. This policy derives from the time Lani ate a pin because no one could get it away from her in time. (Lani was fine…eventually.) The training worked great. What we didn’t expect is that when Nellie is feeling “under-treated,” which is all the time, she goes looking for something to pretend to have. Then she’ll sit in the middle of the living room waiting for you to notice her, whereupon she will make a huge production of almost eating the thing. I’ll never forget the day when I heard my husband yelling in the library room, “Nellie! That’s lint! I’m not rewarding you for lint!”

About five years ago, it became obvious that Nellie was in a lot of pain and we finally had her x-rayed. It turns out she has very bad hip dysplasia. (Thank you, mysterious breeder.) The vet showed me the films and it looked like someone had de-boned a chicken and put the pieces on the table next to each other. Apparently, it was bad enough that the vet played a “guess which dog has these bones?” game with the other vets until we picked Nellie up. The other vet would go, “Owww. How is that dog walking!?!” and then our vet would point out Nellie bouncing up and down in her cage and everyone would exclaim on how Nellie could even walk, much less bounce. We only found out about it because compensating for her hips caused her to have arthritis in her back. Suddenly, her reluctance to walk on long walks made more sense. Surgery wasn’t an option, because they don’t make hip replacements for really small dogs.

Nellie in a bright orange crocheted coat.

If you insist on rolling in horrible things, Nellie, you get to go out in the “coat of shame.”

Once we got that tested, we started getting everything else tested and it turns out that our poor dog has dinky kidneys, whack-a-doodle liver numbers, a heart murmur and the aforementioned hip dysplasia and arthritis. (Thank you, mysterious breeder.) Still, she bounces along most of the time. She takes more medication than I do and needs back rubs from Bryan and butt rubs from me (*eye roll*) to get her muscles working again in the morning. We recently got her a memory foam bed, which was a big hit, and she’s started charging everywhere again. Watching her one day a couple of weeks ago, I said, “You know, Nellie, if you were a little old lady, you’d be the kind that speed-walked everywhere and whacked people out of your way with an umbrella.”

So, that’s Nellie. Rescue a dog today and you too can be pushed around, barked at and have the joy of being woken at 3 am to let your kidney-damaged dog pee. However, you’ll never be bored and coming home will be a joy every day! We love you, fuzzball.