Pat's Latest Column

Stressed Out? Get A Dog!

April 8th, 2009

Meet Henry, the much-loved dog of German Village resident Mary B. Relotto. “Mary B,” as she’s known, has just won a contest I ran to name the cartoon dog on the cover of my upcoming book of columns and stress relief tips, The Dog Ate My Planner.


The name she sent in, of course, was “Henry”, in honor of her own dog, who she says is so wise that if he ever ate her planner, it would be to send her the message: “Slow down sister!” 



 “Wow!” I thought.  “Henry must be a genius!  A stress-relief guru!”


Just looking at him relieves my stress, which brings me to the Aha! moment that came from talking with dog-lovers who wanted to win a drawing of their own favorite pet, drawn by the book’s illustrator, Michael H. Whiting. 


Although the dog in The Dog is a pesky creature that stands for all the “dogs” in our life that disrupt our plans, these dog people have me convinced: The world would be a happier place if everyone owned a real dog.  


OK. I know everyone can’t.  Thanks to my husband’s allergies, I have rare visiting privileges in Dog Land.  And some prefer cats, ferrets, guinea pigs or goldfish.  


But it’s enormously fun to mingle with dog people. What great stories they tell!  All with a smile. 



In case you, too, have been dog-deprived, here’s what I now know:


You can have your mutt’s DNA tested, to see what he really is.  But the word is they all turn out to be 50% German shepherd.  Huh?


Dogs can get dementia.  One woman said she had to medicate hers because he got Sundowner’s Syndrome and wandered around the house all night. 


There really are gourmet pet bakeries and dog washes, little shops with tubs where you can drop off your muddy-footed pooch after a rainy day trip to the park while you go off and sip a Cappuccino.  But if your buddy has separation anxiety, I’m told it might be better to get the Cappuccino to go and stay right there with him. 



There are pet parties where dog ware is sold like Tupperware, and the hostess wins a prize.  And there are dog parks where only dogs (like only children) go to socialize and their owners stand by nervously hoping the Doberman or Rottweiler who belongs to someone else had more than a gourmet cookie for lunch. (Apologies to Doberman and Rottweiler owners).


None of this would I have known if I had not been cruising through the alternate universe of canine-lovers, looking for dog names.


Now I must admit that I bumped into a few folks who had run into problems with dogs just as pesky as the mythical ones in my book.  The runner-up, Carolyn Fergus of Wesley Glen retirement community in Clintonville, recalled how her lab Dinah had once eaten her checkbook.  (“Not the checks, the transaction register for the previous nine months”).  She named my dog “Trouble.”


Cat-lovers and anyone else who’d like to comment about the value of dogs are welcome to do so here.  And don’t forget to check out the great list of other suggested names in the home page story (“We Have A Winner!”) – just in case you decide to get a dog. I’d recommend it.



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