Did you know that dogs can be cloned? Well, they can. The technology exists, and for approximately $50,000, you too can clone your own dog. Most of us have heard of Dolly the Sheep, the first cloned animal, born in 1996. Since then, about two dozen other species of mammals have been cloned, including cattle, deer, horses, rabbits, cats and rats.
The first dog to be cloned was named SNUPPY, short for Seoul National University Puppy, and was born in 2005. Sooam Biotech is a South Korean company, that has since cloned more than 600 dogs. They work in conjunction with a company in Texas, called ViaGen Pets. They also can preserve your pet’s genes for a mere $1600.
Meet MissyToo, and Mira. They live in California, with a Mr. Hawthorne, whose mother’s dog Missy 1.0 was the “genetic donor”. Missy’s nuclear DNA was added to eggs of a different dog, whose DNA was removed. A third dog carried the embryos to term, serving as a surrogate.
What is important to note is that, when dogs are cloned, they may not act or look exactly like each other, or the donor. These two dogs vary in size and color, in part, because they happen to be born several months apart. And, external traits, such as the waviness of fur and the up-or-down pointing of ears may vary, based on the surrogate, and her collagen levels during pregnancy. They also have different personality traits. Consider this in the event that you are considering cloning your pet.
I bring this topic up now, because it is currently newsworthy. Specifically, Barbra Streisand recently cloned her now deceased dog Samantha, and made the mistake of mentioning it during an interview. It led to a media storm of opinions, mainly negative, aimed at her for her actions.
Let me point out that I am fully skeptical of what might happen, ethically, if this technology gets into the wrong hands, and its potential for abuse. Imagine, if you will, Hitler having had this medical technology available while he was alive. I feel like much of technology, be it medical or otherwise, is often available in advance of legislation regarding it’s use, to prevent its misuse. Nonetheless, I found myself defending Barbra Streisand.
She was criticized for spending such an extravagant amount of money on cloning a dog. She was taken to task for cloning, in lieu of adopting a dog or dogs already alive and in need of a loving home. So many people had vocalized an opinion, that Barbra felt the need to publish an explanation of why she cloned Samantha, who had passed away at 14. She described that cells were collected from Samantha’s mouth and stomach. She had missed her Sammie, a Coton de Tulear, so much, that she did, in fact, adopt a rescue dog while waiting for the clones’ births. The rescue is a Maltipoo, whom she named Sadie, after her first dog, given to her by the cast of Funny Girl. Around the same time, Sammie’s original breeder mentioned that she also had a puppy available for adoption, who’s mother was coincidentally named Funny Girl, so Barbra adopted her as well. The cloning process ended up producing four puppies. She kept two (Miss Violet and Miss Scarlett), and gave the other two to close friends. She admits that, even though you can clone the look of a dog, you can’t clone the soul. Still, each time she sees them, she smiles remembering her old dog.
I felt the need to share my opinion with you. I happen to think that, if Barbra Streisand wants to clone her dog, she should be able to clone her dog. I don’t think she should have had to issue any explanation to anyone. It is her business what she does with her hard earned money, as is it my business what I do with mine, and you yours. If these pups give her joy, so be it. This woman is one of the most talented people on the planet, and has given so many of us joy watching her perform. I love animals, and strongly support rescuing pets. Personally, I would never clone my dog. Still, I think those judging Barbra need to mind their own business.
Furthermore, for those that feel compelled to criticize the cost of cloning, which might be otherwise spent on philanthropy, consider this. Barbra Streisand is listed as one of the most philanthropic celebrities. She has formed the Streisand Foundation, which gives grants to causes including health issues (Cancer, women’s cardiovascular disease, and children’s diabetes), women’s rights, civil rights, and the environment.
I can think of scores of examples of celebrities spending money on complete nonsense, in my opinion. Over the top weddings, luxury automobiles being destroyed to film music videos come to mind, … to name a few. If more of us led lives as exposed as celebrities, I would wager that less of us would be as likely to publicly criticize others.
Several years ago I blogged about studies that found soothing music can set a relaxing tone in kennels and veterinary clinics. Heavy metal, for example, proved to have the opposite effect on pets. It stands to reason that slowly progressing, melodious sounds would elicit a calming effect, in contrast to loud, jarring, up tempo music.
To take it several steps further, there are many products and videos that provide a musical background that reportedly will help your dog or cat fall asleep. Music therapy was off my radar for a few years. So, when my client informed me that her pit bull mix Bennett had been taken off of his two anti-anxiety medications, because he had found Relax My Dog videos on You Tube, I will admit, I was skeptical. Bennett had daytime anxiety, and at night he suffered from noise related anxiety that didn’t only wake him up, but kept him up in an agitated state. I should clarify….kept THEM up. If Bennett didn’t sleep, neither did they.
The client explained that, when he would awaken in the early hours, she would simply turn on her computer and the videos, that she kept next to her bed. Soon thereafter, he would fall asleep. The videos are free, and they have them running on several loops of increasing durations. There is also a Relax My Dog app available for your phone, for $2.99.
Researching the videos, I found that there exist a wide variety of similar music and video options available on the internet, for various fees. You can also watch Relax My Cat, by the way. There are also Wholetones for Dogs healing music cds. They claim the music not only aids in sleep, but decreases acting out, barking, aggression, and separation anxiety symptoms. The key is the frequency, they attest, that is soothing to dogs and their auditory range. Soundcloud.com offers relaxing piano music. Vimeo features Relaxation Sleep Music for dogs and puppies, which is 30 minutes long. But, there are videos available that play for up to 8 hours. Note that several of these options, including the Relax My Dog music, are also available on spotify, iTunes and Apple music.
So, I thought I would give it a try. Or a listen. And honestly, it was quite relaxing. To me. My dog, …. it was hard to tell. I find it difficult to wake her from a nap, and then keep her awake, unless we are out doing something exciting like swimming or taking a walk. I played the music, and tried to get a reaction. She simply walked away when she heard my son open the refrigerator door. My experiment left me with one of three explanations. 1. She doesn’t care about the music. 2. It does not work, 3. I must not do said experiment anywhere near dinnertime, as she is tuned into the one frequency that matters to her… the sound of someone walking into the kitchen where her food is kept. Her gastrointestinal circadian rhythm overrides all other stimuli.
My take-home message: it can’t hurt. If it’s free, what’s the harm? If you don’t mind getting up to turn on You Tube, to see if it calms your dog, or helps him/her go back to sleep, say, after thunder or a nightmare, so be it. It honestly made me feel like taking a nap. Or getting a massage….or maybe taking a yoga class. Check it out for yourself. I would love to hear your thoughts.
You have likely heard some of the many stories recently, in the news, of people attempting to bring non-tradional support animals onto airline flights. Some have been denied access, such as the peacock. But there are far more examples of flights with pets claiming to be “emotional support animals” or ESA’s reported, along with the problems caused during those flights. Most recently, there was the case of the alleged support hamster, whose owner claims was first told she could board the pet, and then was later told to flush him/her down the toilet in order to board her flight. Or so, her lawyer claims.
This brings to light a problematic trend of people attempting to travel with non-certified pets in the passenger section of airplanes, and how easy it is to acquire false documentation that the pet is ESA , and that the client has a psychological need to travel with that pet. People are motivated for many reasons to do so, including avoiding travel fees for pets, and avoiding them being sent to the cargo area.
Sadly, though, the abuse of the system is making it more difficult for true certified pets, and their legitimately emotionally in need of support owners, to travel. The good news is that the recent rash has prompted a crack down by the airlines, and agencies who monitor this behavior. How, you may ask, is it happening, and how prevalent is the problem?
The reality is that more than 2300 complaints involving “service animals” were filed between 2012 and 2016. Delta alone flew 250,000 animals in the “emotional support” category last year, an increase of 150 percent from 2015. Incidents such as biting and defecating nearly doubled since 2016. Cases of cats urinating on seats, dogs blocking beverage carts and ducks wandering the aisles all made it harder to manage flights. Flight attendants for Delta have been bitten and even asked to administer oxygen to a dog that, according to its owner, was having anxiety mid-flight. Delta, United, and American Airlines, in addition to disability rights advocates, have led the movement to end fliers fraudulently manipulating federal law to bring untrained pets of varied species into the crowded, already stress filled cabins, making a recipe for potential disaster.
The Americans with Disabilities Act defines service animals as “trained dogs or miniature horses”. Yet, airlines are bound to the more liberal Air Carrier Access Act of 1986, allowing free travel for “any animal that is trained to assist a person with a disability or that provides emotional support.” Need for emotional support must be provided with documentation from a physician or mental-health professional. The problem is that those letters are easily forged and obtainable. What you may want to consider is that, if your pet bites someone, letter or not, you are legally responsible for the repercussions.
Slowly, though, scrutiny is sharpening. Nineteen states now have laws that criminalize passing off pets as service animals.
People with allergies to pet dander, who are also protected under federal disability laws, often feel their concerns are overlooked compared to fliers with ESAs. Most people are sympathetic to the real needs of those with support animals. But, everyone else on an airplane should be afforded the peace of mind that the animals on flights are properly trained to go handle these situations. The abuse of the system has led to doubts and the heightened scrutiny has ended up endangering some true ESA animals. Pets accompanying fliers near working ESA dogs make the working dog’s job harder than it needs to be.
Unfortunately, aligning airlines policies with the American Disabilities Association’s concerns and policies has not gone smoothly. Disability advocates disagree, for instance, on the definition of a support animal. Some want to restrict the category to dogs and cats, while others want to allow rabbits and household birds.
Some service-animal organizations want there to be recognition of “Psychiatric service-animals”, which are typically dogs, who can be trained to performs tasks such as turning on lights for PTSD sufferers, not to be required to provide a medical letter. The National Alliance on Mental Illness wants requirements to apply to both service and support animals, without creating undue burdens on travel for those with disabilities. And, the cost associated with obtaining professional documentation, is seen as an extra hardship.
Clearly, the lack of agreement of all the parties involved in the talks expose that it is a complicated problem to solve, but, the disagreements will only further delay a solution.
The good news is that some airlines are independently doing what they can, in the meantime, to make it more difficult for fliers to abuse the system Delta, as of March 1, is requiring passengers with trained service animals to submit a veterinary health form at lease 48 hours prior to travel, to the airline’s new Service Animal Support Desk. Customers with ESA’s or psychiatric service animals must do the same, and also provide a letter from a doctor or mental-health professional, in addition to a signed document stating the animal is trained to behave in public. They also expanded their list of prohibited species, including farm poultry, hedgehogs, and anything with tusks. Additionally they may exclude animals that are too large or heavy to accommodate the flight cabin, pose a threat to the health of safety of others, or could cause a significant disruption of service. Animals prohibited from entering a foreign country are also denied boarding. And, airlines are also never required to accept snakes, reptiles, rodents, ferrets, or spiders.
There was an enlightening article written by a veterinarian, Dr. Phyllis DeGioia, last winter, in which she elaborated how she easily, yet fraudulently, she acquired documentation to claim her dog as an ESA. In it, she explained how a psychologist, for a fee, provided her with a letter claiming she had PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and needed her animal for support while flying. That diagnosis was made by a psychologist in NY, while she lived in Wisconsin, whom she located through a quick online search of doctors. She specifically contacted “ESA Doctors”. They offer a choice of three packages: one for flying only, one for housing only, and one for both. Apparently, it is legal for a psychologist in one state to provide services for a patient in another state. At least, for now. Dr. DeGioia goes into detail how, by the thinnest of nearly imaginary margins, she rifled through her childhood memories to come up with something “traumatic”, which qualified her for her PTSD diagnosis, and the paperwork to prove it… for life.
She refers to a great expose piece aired on the Today show, demonstrating how easy it can be to pull off this fraud. Refer to it at:
http://www.today.com/pets/emotional-support-animals-are-making-flying-beastly-experts-say-t70756. Or google it using that phrase. Appalling.
Also, there are several ways to obtain “fake” service dog vests, papers, and ID’s. The list below contains red flag organizations that the airlines should be suspicious of, requiring a purchaser to simply fill out a form, and mail it, including payment. The costs range from $35-200.
-SARA (Service Animal Registry of America)
-USARplus (United Service Animal Registry)
-Goldstar German Shepherds
-SDA (Service Dogs America)
-Registered Service Dog
-SDCA (Service Dog Certification of America, aka Certify My Dog)
-NSAR(National Service Animal Registry)
-American Service Dogs
-Service Dog ID
-Certified Service Dog
-National Association of Service Dogs
-Service Dog Tags, aka emotionalsupporanimals.org
-Free My Paws (they lead you to believe that you need to renew the ID cards yearly, for a fee)
-CRTASA (Canadian Registry of Therapy Animals and Service Animals)
-USSDR (United States Service Dog Registry) (registration free, but sell ID tags)
-Official Service Dog Registry
-Service Dog Kits
I hope that the regulations can be streamlined, adopted universally, and enforced, sooner rather than later. I feel that people with real disabilities, both physical and emotional, should be able to travel with support animals, properly trained, and protected from situations making their travel more difficult. I believe that the more people understand the implications of fraud, hopefully the less likely they will be to consider it, making airline travel as safe and smooth as it can be for all of us.
As I often tell my children: “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should”.
I have recommended pet insurance to clients for years. Generally, the options have greatly improved in the last decade or so. I recommend some insurance companies over others, based on first hand accounts of clients and friends, and personal dealings with them. I have blogged about them before.
What I always say is that insurance is worth having, with a reputable company, because it “hasn’t yet been ruined and adversely affected my daily practice, YET”. But the day has arrived where I can foresee bad things down the road. I am angry. My client has been given the run around by a company I did not recommend. To insure her reimbursement, I had to waste valuable time satisfying their ridiculous stipulations. It seemed only fair to share with you what I have learned about Nationwide Pet Insurance. And, it’s not good.
First of all, Nationwide is NOT on your side. Not in my opinion. And not by a long shot.
They recently purchased VPI insurance, so this information is relevant to those of you covered by VPI. Many employers offer Nationwide to their employees, prompting them to cancel prior coverage policies by other companies.
My client was denied reimbursement for heartworm prevention and flea and tick prevention products, without proof of my recommendation and a script being provided. The email receipt from the pharmacy that I work with, which requires my veterinary approval (heartworm preventative) could not have been generated without my testing prior to prescribing it. Now they are awaiting my postdated written script for it along with a written recommendation. Same goes for flea and tick prevention. Absurd. It has delayed their reimbursement, which I suspect is the point. None of the any other companies have this time consuming, redundancy as standard procedure.
But wait, there’s more.
So, the Insider tip from their website, above, states that “..we don’t think it’s fair to penalize you if your pet gets sick or hurt.” So, they offer wellness coverage options. They may not penalize you if your pet is injured or ill, but it seems like a lot of red tape to get the coverage they do give.
Their website sports the snappy tagline,… “Coverage that gives you back.”
What, precisely does that mean? I know what it doesn’t give you back,… and that’s your the time you and your veterinarian wasted providing them with excessive proof of care and preventative medicine. I would think that prevention of disease is a good thing . It is the equivalent of getting oil changes, and having proof thereof by the dealer. But then being expected to have the dealer put in writing why you needed an oil change, and the date that they recommended it, what type of oil, without fulfilling a warranty covered service.
But it’s not just me complaining. There are currently 244 negative reviews and complaints posted against them on the consumer affairs website. Check them out yourself via the link here:
Their overall rating is 1 out of 5 stars, based on 48 ratings in the last year.
Did you know that they are not an accredited insurance agency?
Here are some representative complaints that I found telling.
- “The Nationwide website does not allow posting of bad reviews, and thus I had to post elsewhere”.
- “There was nowhere listed to submit claim forms”
- “…it’s a scam.”
- “…they are guilty of wrongful denial of claims for life saving medical services.”
The list goes on and on and on.
And then there’s this… They say above that “The key to picking (an insurance company) is to go with the company that has the most stability, experience and recommendations.
Did I mention that they are not accredited?
Then, they list in their “Insider Tips: Some insurance companies pay to use the names of well-known organizations. With Nationwide, what you see is what you get. Americas’s #1 recommended pet insurer*, …”
Below the box, circled in pink, is their reference for this claim of “America’s #1” as 2013 Veterinary AAU.
Veterinary AAU is the Veterinary University of Addis Ababa. So, their claim to #1 status is from the Veterinary School of Ethiopia.
So, true, they didn’t go with well known.
I do not intend to discredit AAU, but there are 30 Veterinary schools or colleges in the US that are accredited or have accreditation pending. Not one of them could have given a thumbs up? No other organizations, such as, say, The Humane Society, or any one of countless pet rescues? And what happened after 2013. Things may have gone downhill since then. Clearly they have.
Consider this when choosing a carrier for your pet.
If you are in the Philadelphia area, and a fan of dogs, and/or art, you are in luck. The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts has a current exhibit titled “Nick Cave: Rescue”. It features several of his sculptures, all with a ceramic dog in a chair, surrounded by a nestlike aggregation of beads, metal flowers, etc. Their effect is that of a lost canine sheltered in a magical wilderness den.
The exhibit takes off from there, with many works by various artists. intent on looking more closely at the relationship between dogs and humans, and its depiction in works of art. Other artists represented include Thomas Eakins, Mary Cassatt, and Horace Pippin, to name a few.
This human/animal bond is a subject I often write about. I have discussed the emotional benefits of having pets in your life. I loved reading, recently, about the pets that inspired several musicians to write some of their best work. Paul McCartney wrote the song “Martha My Dear” about his English Sheepdog. Freddie Mercury was a cat lover, and wrote the song “Delilah” after his kitty of the same name. Elton John credits his Cocker Spaniel Arthur for the “woof bells” recorded on one of his records. The list goes on and on. So, it stands to reason that many sculptors and painters have been inspired to create artwork with animals.
David Hockney immortalized his dogs Stanley and Boodgie in his book “Dog Days”.
Jeff Koons, made this 42 foot high sculpture, “Puppy”, with live flowers, soil, geotextile fabric and stainless steel. It can be found outside the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, should you want to go see it in person.
Andrew Wyeth’s “Dog on Bed” is more recognizable. I think I had two roommates with that poster in their room.
My favorite may be Norman Rockwell’s depiction of my idea of pure joy. “Pride of Parenthood” is indeed, timeless.
Mainly, this artwork brings a smile to my face. Photos and art can sometimes be a reminder of a happy time or place.
That is exactly what this photo of my dog does for me. It is her, on the way to the beach, riding in our van with the window down and her ears happily blowing in the breeze. I also painted it, because I loved it so much. It won’t end up in any museum, but it sits in my office, where I can see it when I need a reminder of a perfect summer’s day.
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I returned this week from a trip to Rome and Venice, Italy. I had been to Rome in 1989, and Venice in 2000, but now had two of my three children with me. In 1989, my life was very different and I had no children. Then, cats roamed the streets of both cities more noticeably.
Last week, instead, dogs were everywhere. In the high end stores, on trains and buses, they are seen as pampered, well dressed and leashed. Siberian Huskies and Dachshunds seen shopping the aisles for Fendi and Chanel bags alongside their pet parents. Two dogs were snarling at each other, on and off, for 4 hours, on a train ride. No personnel seemed to care. There are even parking signs for your dog. It got me to wondering,… where were the cats?
It seems that there are now cat sanctuaries in Rome, where they have collected and deposited the majority of the cats that used to roam the streets. Venice, we would learn, has a special history with cats. While there we took a paper mache mask making class, which is a local artisan specialty. It included a history of the process, and it’s role in the city’s history, which soon became largely about cats. Venice developed the masks for physicians, which were stuffed with herbs, to protect them from exposure to the plague, brought into the city by seafaring merchants. Traders from the Middle East, some time later, brought cats with them, and they were effective rat hunters, ultimately helping end the plague in Venice. They have been revered ever since, explaining all the cat cards, metal or paper masks, and images all over the city.
Our teacher and host, Georgio, explained that he and his family were some of the 55,000 remaining Venetians. The city of Venice is not just sinking physically, but so is its population, which had been 120,000 just 30 years ago. The cats are disappearing along with the residents. One reason is that there was a Trap-neuter-return (TNR) program instituted in the 1960’s, that helped control the then overpopulation of cats perceived by some residents. But the development of cat litter in the 1960’s helped make it easier to keep cats indoors. The rise of tourism being the main business in Venice, along with the declining population, resulted in residents either renting their homes to tourists or selling them to be made into hotels. Both options do not involve keeping cats, and thus the noticeable decline. Sadly, the only reliable place to see cats are in the Aqua Alta bookstore, advertising their resident cats as a tourist attraction in a city that once teemed with them.
Dr. Dawn (please share and encourage friends to subscribe to this blog)
Happy New Year
It is mid-December, and I browsed the selection of this year’s Hallmark ornaments. There is a veterinarian ornament, intended for those little girls who dream of working with animals. It looks like this:
Hmmm. I find her outfit interesting. Her skinny jeans and booties are cute and all, but… I don’t dress like that for appointments. Nor does any woman veterinarian I have ever known. I never wear sneakers. I have a no sneaker rule. And no jeans. Some people wear sneakers for comfort, and I get that. I wear clogs. For house calls during snowstorms, I wear boots. But cutesie booties with kitten heels…. um… no. The only kitten accessory is,… an actual kitten. Sure, this girl looks happy holding the puppy. Sure, who wouldn’t be. But let’s not hyper focus on what message they might or might not be sending to a little girl. Let’s try to give them the benefit of the doubt, and assume that they are trying to stimulate interest in the profession for 9 year olds who love animals. If they had a hallmark ornament showing a veterinarian, covered in dog hair, and body fluids, including but not limited to blood (animal’s or vet’s… ), then I suppose that not only sales of the ornament would plummet, but it would not entice tweens to become veterinarians. I get that. But, if I had a choice of a female veterinarian in an ornament form it might be:
OK, I realize this is Wonder Woman, but.. why not? Put her in some cool scrubs, and throw a stethoscope around her neck. I would be good with that. I have used a lasso several times in my career, to capture my patients. Maybe not a golden lasso, but a lasso like rope or leash nonetheless.
A veterinary friend pointed out that I should be happy that the ornament person is not a blonde. Hmmm. Good point, I think. Being a brunette, I appreciate that. OR DO I? This goes into a much deeper discussion of smart girl vs pretty girl. Why is it that the smart girl is almost always depicted as a brunette (+/- with glasses), in contrast to the blonde, pretty , possibly not so smart girl. We all know plenty of brilliant blonde women, and vice versa.
Why is “Dream Date Barbie” a blonde? And, more importantly… what is she wearing?! And, pray tell, where is she going on this “dream date”? Clearly, her dream date involves Flamenco dancing.
Why is Golden Dream Barbie again, blonde? Where is THIS Barbie going? Clearly, not to the office. Why do all the blonde Barbies seem to have all the fun (albeit really bad taste in clothing), while we brunettes seem to be forever either working or saving the planet?
Here is another very cool version of Veterinarian Barbie that I would be ok with. I am not a big Star Wars fan, but this Jedi woman is cool. And,… noticeably brunette. Interesting.
I guess I should be grateful that this Barbie is not the version of an aquatic veterinarian.
And, here again, is the X-Files Barbie, wearing uncool clothing. And.. noticeably, unblonde.
OK, that was unfair. I will admit. They are staying true to her character.
Now, this I like. This is the Hallmark “Healthcare Super Hero” ornament design. Again, I would be fine with this.
But I am left wondering what the real message is that Barbie and Hallmark are trying to send.
Case in point. Santa’s “Core Crunching Kringle” ornament is just… wrong. Do we need to really make the poor man feel bad about his weight the time of the year that he is putting in overtime, for all of us? I think that if Santa wants to strengthen his core, or lose weight, that is fine, but I will not be putting any pressure on him, particularly around Christmas. Santa, I think you are great just the way you are.
My husband’s family has had dogs at various times in their lives. But, they were not like my family, where we always had to have at least one dog at any given moment in time or we were not complete.
My sister in law, sometime in her fifties, adopted her first dog. In truth, her college aged daughters did, and it, of course, became her main responsibility. As any parents of college age children well know, there seems to be a point when every undergraduate will decide they simply must get a puppy, or kitten. They plan on shared custody of this pet with their roommates. And then they move on, and ultimately one of the parents ends up keeping the dog. Apartments change and dogs are not allowed. Friendships evolve. It happened with me in college. And now, I get the calls and the constant barrage of photos of dogs and breeds that my daughters want to adopt, all the while knowing that I will be there to care for the dog should anything go wrong. Countless images of of Pomskis, Frenchies, and NewYorkies, … you get the picture. Teens love trends, and dog trends are no exception. If you don’t know what the three breeds mentioned above look like… Google them.
So, my sister in law found herself with a new puppy, Luna, the Labradoodle for the first time in her adult life. Four children, and somehow her first dog. My dog India and Luna have provided our families with years of entertainment, wrestling with and loving each other for hours on end. When we drive down their long driveway at the beach, my dog India literally lets out a scream of sheer anticipatory delight reserved only for that driveway, and for Luna.
Luna is adorable, and large, and messy. Actually, she is, at times, gross.
She, like India, makes it their mission in life to walk or roll in the smelliest dead muck they can find.
(India, guilty in crate, stinky and muck-covered)
In my home, this is bad enough. But in my sister in law’s homes, this borders on tragedy, because she has two of the most beautifully decorated homes you might ever see. Catalogs have done photo shoots in her home, so I can assure you that I am not exaggerating. Imagine lots of white furniture, white rugs, white walls….
Enter Luna and her muck. Mix in her recurrent urinary tract infections and gastrointestinal challenges, and… yeah, you are getting the picture. There were times that I wondered if Luna might become one of those outdoor dogs that live in a doghouse. A heated, well appointed doghouse, but a doghouse nonetheless. And then, Luna earned her keep. But first, some more background.
It’s worth mentioning that, in both of these beautiful homes, there is one recurrent problem. Critters seem to find their way indoors. Bats, snakes, mice, and other rodents. The bat guy, the squirrel guy, and the exterminator guy have each made several visits, working their magic while the family stood huddled in the yard screaming and comforting each other, waiting for the thumbs up to reenter the premises.
Recently, a flying squirrel made its way inside. It would emerge, hide, and then re-emerge, and Luna would go ballistic each time she saw it. So did my sister in law. This went on until the other night. The brazen squirrel decided to crawl along the edge of the couch, and join them while watching television. In the blink of an eye, Luna, the slowest moving creature I have ever encountered, simply slammed her paw upon the neck of the squirrel, and ended it! Before anyone could react or scream, her long latent instincts kicked in and she killed it.
I have new found respect for her. I may have to borrow her and her skills one day.
Luna will not be moving outside any time soon. She may be gross at times, but she is also amazing.
Moral of the story: Got critters… get a dog.