All things Dog

It’s amazing the things you learn over lunch. Three of us – all decades-long colleagues and friendsа – were catching up over soups and salads at a Honolulu watering hole when talk turned to dogs. M is now in the empty nest stage of life and has replaced her kids with a cute as a button dog. Meanwhile T is learning about how to manage owners and their pets at a brand new pet friendly rental apartment complex where she’s in charge of leasing.а One of the conditions of leasing is requiring owners to register their pets.

The exception is service dogs that are trained to ADA standards to help their disabled owners. According to the ADA, they perform services like guiding people who are blind, alerting the deaf, calming a person with PTSD, alerting and protecting people who are about to have a seizure, reminding the mentally ill to take their meds, and pulling wheelchairs. But some creative renters try to circumvent registration by claiming their dog is exempt because it’s a “comfort” dog. The term “comfort” being co-opted by certain humans who claim their animal is vital to their (the human’s) mental health. i.e., soothing frazzled nerves and chasing away the blues. Not to say that comfort or therapy dogs, as they’re also known, don’t serve a good purpose in the case of traumatized or deeply depressed people. They’re trained to give affection and comfort to folks in hospitals, hospices, retirement and nursing homes, college campuses, to people with autism, and in crisis situations. Good try though, renters. Just register them already.

I found a different kind of doggie relief completely by accident. On my last trip to Jamaica, I got sloppy applying suntan lotion and missed the top of one foot while frolicking in the intensely hot Jamaican sun.а (It certainly seemed more intense than the Hawaiian variety!) My foot was red and inflamed and itchy by the time I got to Miami where I made a stopover with family. Liberal applications of hydrocortisone weren’t helping much. But Jesse, the family pet, kept sniffing around the ailing foot and insisted on licking it vigorously.а Eeuww, Jesse! аTo my great amazement, the next morning the inflammation had disappeared and the itching was gone! Jesse sensed that this human was in distress and came to the rescue. The only thing missing was a cask of brandy! а

By the way, the belief that St. Bernard rescue dogs carried casks of brandy around their necks so that avalanche victims could revive themselves with a stiff drink is pure myth. Wikipedia says that 17th century monks at the Great St. Bernard Hospice in the Swiss Alps created the St. Bernard breed and trained them as rescue dogs because they were strong enough to cross deep snow drifts and could sniff out travelers by their scent. The last recorded rescue was in 1955. But the monks emphatically state that the dogs did not carry casks of brandy around their necks! Besides, under those circumstances, alcohol is medically contraindicated. Actually, the myth was traced back to 19th century English artist, Edwin Henry Landseer, who was known for his paintings of animals. It was his depiction of a St. Bernard with a cask around its neck that made it into folklore. Landseer is better known for the four bronze lions at the base of Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square in London.

Back to my rescue by Jesse. аRecent research shows that certain things in dog saliva do help with healing – the chemical histatin speeds up healing, a protein called Nerve Growth Factor halves the time of wound healing, and nitric oxide inhibits bacterial growth and infection. But before you go looking for a dog to lick your wounds, there’s also the risk of picking up all sorts of parasites and bacteria from its saliva. In other words, don’t use your dog as a first aid kit.

I have to confess that I’m not a dog person. But I can understand the strong attachment humans share with their dogs, like the bond between DCI Barnaby and his lovable dog, Sykes, in my current favorite Brit detective drama, Midsomer Murders, now in its 16th season. I love that show! However, dog owners, nothing irritates me more than people who don’t clean up after their pets when they poo and leave smelly piles of it outside my house. To be fair, this goes for cat owners too. Fortunately, I don’t have to be the bad guy and confront lazy owners. I just complain to our resident manager who is the enforcer. аAnd if the smell is too intense and pervasive, I spray the area with a non-toxic odor remover. To be prepared for the next time, I think I’ll pick up some “Anti-Icky-Poo” spray, which is available on Amazon – free shipping if you’re a Prime member. а

Which takes me back to the lunch conversation with my friends and learning something new. Did you know that there’s a way for the pooch police to track you down if you don’t clean up after your pet?а You know that DNA doesn’t lie, right? Well, there’s a doggie DNA lab (Poo Prints in Knoxville, Tenn.) that helps condo and apartment managers identify the “poopetrators” so they can find and fine the owners. When this story appeared in Huffington Post a few years ago, the company had hundreds of properties in 30 states as clients. The takeaway from this is: Scoop your pooch’s poop or get busted! I wonder if my homeowners association would be interested?а

A coincidence

That “dog” spelled backwards is “god”?

The instinct to love.


ай Maya Leland 2014