Friday, April 5, 2013

High (maintenance) Cotton

What has seasonal allergies, chronic ear infections, a calcium deposit in one eye, and acid reflux? Let's also throw in juvenile cataracts which led to surgery which led to detached retinas which caused blindness. No, I am not talking about an activity bus full of senior citizens on their way to a bingo tournament. I'm talking about my ten year old bichon frise, Cotton.

This poor dog has had almost every affliction known to man or beast. We are frequent flyers at both our regular vet and at the doggy ophthalmologist, I can spot an ear infection from across a crowded room, and I can give eye drops with one hand tied behind my back. Did I mention that even his dog food is prescription? Clint loves to say that I have both the clinical hours and practical experience to be a vet tech; all I'm really lacking is the official certificate.

This fluff ball has been a handful, right from the very start. At a whopping one and a half pounds, this puppy came very close to destroying both our apartment and my sanity the first few months we had him. Never mind the fact that he was totally fearless and climbed every gate/blockade/containment method we employed; the little guy was fast, stubborn and totally independent. He's still stubborn, but the fast and independent traits have pretty much gone by the blind doggy wayside.

The cuteness is a survival mechanism, we know that now. Pretty much any time of the day I'm not doing something for Cotton, he is either waiting for me to do it or I am wondering what it is that needs to be done next; at the height of the eye drop madness I had to create spreadsheets. We track our expenses with a financial website, and every month, every category--groceries, gas, entertainment--is all in the green. And then there's the "Cotton" category, which is always red: over budget. This animal knows how to spend it.

One look with those big, brown eyes and we all come a-running. People have been known to leave messages on our answering machine for this dog. He has a pet sitter, gets groomed by a mobile "pet spa" that comes to our driveway (his haircuts cost more than mine, for the record), and the veterinarians at our animal hospital fight over who gets to see him (lucky for them, we are there on a very regular basis so there is ample opportunity. The long standing joke is that this little dog is going to make sure we never have the time, money or energy to have children, keeping him the center of attention). One of my mom's favorite stories is the time our pet sitter called to warn me before we saw our den, after we had been gone on vacation and left him in the sitter's care for three days. It looked like someone had unleashed a rabid Tasmanian devil in there. Without too many gory details, it took steam cleaning the couch and carpet and sanding and repainting a door to fix the tantrum that was thrown during the home alone incident.

Cotton is the king of the castle, the head of the household, the boss around here. And it's a good thing he found us, because no other people could understand Cotton's quirks. He generally refuses to walk on any uncarpeted surface, won't eat his dog food with anyone watching, can't stand to be petted on the head, requires praise for drinking water (or else he won't do it; see also: dehydration incident of 2008). If his harness isn't in just the right position when we take our daily walks, he will refuse to move until the situation is corrected.

And speaking of our daily walks, Cotton prefers to take a slow and steady approach. He gives new meaning to stopping and smelling the roses...and everything else he can possibly sniff. We very often get lapped by senior citizens out for their exercise, who like to chide us with witty banter such as, "You two are going to get a speeding ticket out here!" Yep, we blaze a trail, indeed.

The only thing more exciting than a walk is a car ride. Jingle the keys, and Cotton is ready to co-pilot, and beside himself with excitement. Of course, he has a quilt that he rides on for short trips around town (errands, vet visits and the like), and a pillow for longer trips (you will undoubtedly notice the stylish floral pillow case: tres chic). Comfort is key--doesn't everyone do that for their dog?

Mr. High Maintenance also enjoys latte foam, Chick-fil-A nuggets (which he gets as a reward for enduring the endlessly long visits to his eye doctor...I also get a sandwich, so win/win) and my husband's black dress socks. Every night, when Clint changes clothes, that little blind dog sits as close on the edge of the bed as he can get, leaning toward Clint, unable to be still because of the anticipation. It's like a strip tease for the dog. Mind you, he can't even see the socks come off--he hears the sound and waits so he can make off with them and try his mightiest to chew holes in them before we take them away.  Did I neglect to mention that he loves sunning himself on our deck, on a chilled towel (naturally)?

Clint said, "Maybe you should add something in about how excited you were to get the dog, how you said he was the best gift you've ever gotten, but in reality, we got a lemon." Absolutely not. For all his whims and preferences, he is a happy little sidekick, a great confidante, and an ever-willing assistant. Cotton has big hair, now has his own blog, loves to entertain (and be entertained), gets giddy over snacks, and is a bit of a show-off. They say pets often resemble their owners, but I don't see any similarities there, do you?


  1. Love this one! Cotton rules!

  2. The things we do for our dogs! Sounds like you're a great (and very patient!) owner!


Remember: brains and looks will only take you so far, but flattery will get you everywhere.