In May 2010, a coworker offered me a free pointer puppy. The 8-week-old litter was in Pike County, about 90 miles south of my home in Cumming, Georgia. I’m a sucker for puppies and accepted his offer because my three-year-old pointer, Blaze, needed a playmate. The puppy didn’t have papers like Blaze, but Blaze cost me $200 to adopt.
I knew what lay ahead. When Blaze was a puppy, for example, she constantly harassed my then eleven-year-old pointer, Sugar. Sugar didn’t want to be bothered by the agenda of an energetic hellion, but Blaze’s favorite thing to chew on, besides my house, was Sugar’s collars. Sugar had worn the same red collar for eleven years. Then Blaze ate it, dog tags and all. Blaze ate Sugar’s replacement collar also. Replacing Sugar’s collar became a weekly routine. I tried soaking Sugar’s collars in habanero pepper sauce, spraying her collars with Bitter Apple chewing deterrent for dogs, and covering her collars with a mixture of screaming hot horse radish and hot, spicy mustard. Nothing worked.
Raising Blaze through her puppyhood was difficult; but that “free puppy”, which I named Dixie, took the cake for being my most troublesome and expensive puppy ever and cost me almost $4000, either directly or indirectly. If I ever had to get a lobotomy to raise a puppy, it would have been with Dixie.
On May 22, fate set a series of expensive events into motion as Blaze and I rode to get Dixie. First, Blaze ran off while we were in Pike County and cut both of her hind feet to the bone, apparently on barbed wire. Once we got back to Cumming, I boarded Blaze at the veterinary hospital for treatment. She was in a state of shock. I was too when I saw the $1500 bill two weeks later.
The day after we returned from Pike County, I noticed a hitchhiking deer tick attached to the right side of my abdomen. Sure enough, I had contracted Lyme disease and developed a high fever. My doctor prescribed a 10-day course of strong stomach-sickening antibiotics: a cure almost as bad as the disease. The bite site, which I named Charlie, was extremely itchy for weeks.
Sick as hell, there I was with an adult dog in the hospital and a new puppy to assimilate into the family.
During Dixie’s first medical checkup on June 12, the vet explained that she had a huge hernia and needed surgery. I said okay and boarded Dixie for the surgery and recuperation. The fee for the surgery and the boarding was another $1500 bill in addition to the $100 checkup fee.
Socks. When Dixie came home from the hospital, my dirty socks, which I usually drop on the floor, started missing in the morning. I was losing single socks at first. Then I lost a pair of socks. Initially, I thought I was just imagining the pair to be missing and muttered, “Maybe for once I threw my dirty socks into the hamper instead of dropping them on the floor.” But a few days later I awoke during the night and found Dixie ingesting a pair of socks. Keeping a supply of socks in the house was getting expensive.
When I caught Dixie chewing on a wine glass, I immediately took what remained of the glass from her and called my vet, who instructed me to give her some soft food and a Fleet enema. How do you give a dog an enema? You can’t. As soon as you grab the dog by its collar and start sticking the nozzle up its rear end, it begins running round and round in circles while you spin yourself dizzy trying to keep up; and all you end up with is a wet, messy bathroom—and nothing up the dog’s ass. In any event, Dixie passed the glass shards without incident.
The following morning, Dixie pulled the venetian blinds off the kitchen bay window. But I wasn’t angry until I noticed that she had also chewed up my 3-wood and driver golf clubs, which were lying on the living room floor. She had bent both club heads inward. Ironically, the next time I used the clubs, I discovered that the damaged clubs actually improved my game: They corrected my god-awful slice by compensating it with a hook action.
Before graduating from puppyhood, Dixie pulled the curtains off the sliding glass doors in the family room. The curtains needed to be dry-cleaned anyway. The dry-cleaning bill was $77, and to this day, the curtains are hanging in the living-room closet, unused. I never did like those curtains.
I could go on; but not being able to think of a good ending for this piece, I’ll just quit right here.