Can I get a cookie now? A vintage puppy update

by Lorin Michel Sunday, December 4, 2011 10:57 PM

Last Saturday night, our boy got very, very sick. We have no idea why but starting around 1 am, he exploded. Then he exploded again around 3:30, and so it went all day Sunday, Sunday night, Monday and Monday night. He was unsettled, obviously uncomfortable and generally miserable; sick as a dog, as the saying goes. We wanted so badly to help him but we didn’t know what he needed. If ever the art of mindreading was needed, it was then.

The vet came Tuesday and he’s been on five different types of medication ever since. We joked that he’s officially turned into old person, complete with prescription medications lined up on the kitchen counter in the order they need to be administered. The difference, of course, is that most old people take their pills by themselves. Our vintage puppy fights us every single time. We pry open his mouth and do our best to place the pill as far back in his throat as possible before closing his jaws, holding them together, gently stroking his throat, blowing on his nose and generally try to coerce him into swallowing. We promise cookies, chicken, undying devotion. Most of the time he pretends that he’s swallowed, punctuated with an actual swallow. He pushes the tip of his tongue out between his front teeth and blinks his eyes. He’s done fighting us; we relinquish our grip and stand up.

At which point he looks at us and spits the pill out onto the floor. The routine begins again until we win.

Maguire, snoozing on the floor in the sun; today

It is now a week later and he seems to be on the mend. He’s eating his prescription dog food – moist food, which we’ve only given him previously when he’s sick, which luckily hasn’t been often – inhaling it actually. He stands near me as I prepare his food, staring up, ears forward, waiting, waiting. His tongue snakes out occasionally as if to imply that he’s ready to eat. As if I didn’t know that. Any time now. Please. Can you put that on the floor, mom? I’m so hungry. Did I tell you I was sick?

Yes, baby. I was there.

After he cleans the bowl, and I mean cleans the bowl to the point where it looks like it’s just been washed, he saunters toward the bedroom to simultaneously ram and flip his bed while also wiping his whiskers. This has been a good development.

A better development happened on Friday night. Kevin and I were on opposite couches, enjoying the fire. The TV might have been on. If it was, whatever was playing was completely forgettable. I glanced over to see where the dog was. He was at the foot of the stairs. He had a toy. Ordinarily this would not be cause for celebration, but we knew that we would truly be on the road to recovery when he started bringing out toys.

We felt like we’d won the vintage puppy lottery.

The phrase “sick as a dog" dates back to at least the 17th century, and perhaps as early as the 1500s. It doesn’t appear to be negative so much as descriptive. Anyone who knows dogs knows that while they can and often will eat absolutely anything, occasionally their diet disagrees with them and the results can be quite dramatic.

To truly appreciate the original sense of "sick as a dog," imagine being seated in the parlor having tea with the Vicar on a lovely Sunday afternoon, when the dog staggers in from a meal of sun-dried woodchuck and expresses his unease … all over the heirloom oriental carpet.

That was Maguire, sans the woodchuck.

On a related note, sick as a dog should not be confused with sick puppy, used to describe someone that behaves oddly. That phrase seems to have been used first by a reporter in The Indianapolis Star on May 7, 1911 when he wrote: "When a noted actress is in town," said one detective yesterday, "lots of times some poor fool, wearing a carnation in his coat lapel, will whine around after her like a sick puppy."

Can I get a cookie, mom?

Regardless, our vintage puppy was sick as a dog. But he’s better now. His fur looks brighter, he’s not as haggard, he’s even gained back a little weight.  As I write this, he’s standing here gazing up at me. He’s shifting his feet, he’s putting on the cute.

If I could read his mind I’d swear he was saying: Can I get a cookie now? Pleeeeeezzzzzeeeee?

Welcome back, little man!

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Comments (4) -

12/5/2011 12:03:02 PM #

As a recent first-time dog owner, and coming from a family with a predominately cat-oriented background, I am here to say how relieved and pleased I am to learn that the vintage puppy is on the mend. My "Bear Pupple", whose name is actually "Nina" is a wonderful addition to my home. And she was particularly excited when the Christmas tree got set up yesterday.

Happy Holidays to Maguire and her proud parents!

Fred Marcin United States

12/5/2011 1:25:01 PM #

Bear Pupple! I love it! I suspect that you're very much like us in that Nina has at least 10 other names, and she probably answers to each and every one of them.

Dogs are very special creatures. Most of the time they're better than humans.

Enjoy and a very Merry Christmas to you, your daughter and her royal Bearness!

Lorin United States

12/5/2011 2:00:32 PM #

How funny! No kidding now, we call our 15 year-old cat, Buddie, "Her royal fatness"! LOL!

Fred Marcin United States

12/5/2011 5:23:51 PM #

LOVE maguires face in the second picture. GORGEOUS!

Pam United States

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