– Life with “Pearl the Girl.”

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Back in my youth, my family had two large German Shepherds who were both delightful. Not only were they loyal and protective, they were simply a lot of fun to be around. Yes, I did my fair share of feeding them, taking them for walks, and washing them, but they were actually low maintenance. I cannot remember a time when there was an “accident” on the carpet, unless perhaps when they were pups. Even then, we watched and trained them carefully.

As I grew older and had my own family, I avoided getting a dog as I was traveling a lot back then and had little time to train the animal, plus we didn’t want any “accidents” in the house. It wasn’t that we hated dogs, we just had no time for them as my family had several extracurricular activities to tend to, and consequently, peace reigned in the Bryce household for several years.

My mother on the other hand loved dogs and was never without one. Following the shepards, she had a Boston Bull, two Dachshunds (who both lived to an amazing 18 years of age), and finally a Chiweenie named Pearl. Unfortunately, my Mom passed away a couple of months ago and I inherited her dog. So now, after several quiet years, I find myself to be a dog owner.

I had never heard of a Chiweenie before. It’s a small dog, part Dachshund, part Chihuahua, (and part Wildcat I think). Pearl looks more like a Dachshund than Chihuahua. Interestingly, she is probably the fastest dog my Mom ever had and could easily outrun the Shepherds. She likes to kick on the afterburners now and then, her ears fly back, and she reaches warp speed in no time at all. It’s actually remarkable how fast she can go and I know she likes to show off, not only her speed, but her cornering abilities.

Now I am re-learning how to care for a dog. The difference is whereas I grew up with big dogs, now I have to content with a small twelve pound dog that runs like a rocket.

One of the biggest things I had to come to grips with is feeding the dog. Back when she was with my Mom, she ate normal dog food and kibble over and over again on a daily basis. The food came in a small plastic container and consisted of several flavors, e.g; beef stroganoff, rotisserie chicken, omelets, prime rib, etc. I’ve always wondered how they verified the flavors. Since dogs don’t speak, it is logical to assume a human has to taste the food and label them accordingly. I do not think this is a job I would relish, particularly since it is all made from liver which I detest.

Even though I continued my Mom’s food regimen for Pearl, after awhile she simply would not eat it anymore, regardless how long I would leave it out for her. After a few days of this, I was beginning to worry about her health and tossed a piece of beef bologna into her bowl which she gobbled up. I also tried some leftover deli turkey and ham which, again, was enthusiastically devoured. When I tried to reintroduce her old food, she would have nothing to do with it for days. As of this writing, I now give her deli Roast Turkey, Tavern Ham, and some other cuts of beef. When this runs its course, I suspect Filet Mignon and Lobster Newburg will be in the offing. She now eats better than I do. Ah, the life of a dog.

Then there is a variety of dog cookies and chew sticks for her discriminating taste. Usually she enjoys them, but I have seen her turn her nose up to those treats designed to clean her teeth and keep her breath fresh, which I discovered was important, particularly at 6am when she wants to go out and stares closely at me with her panting breath going directly up my nose.

Shortly after Mom passed away, I received a note in the mail from the county government claiming it was time to renew Pearl’s registration. I thought, “No problem,” it would be just a couple of bucks. Wow, did I get this wrong. I had to first prove she had a series of shots, including: Rabies, DAPv, Fecal, Heartworm, Bordetella, and Influenza. That’s right, a Flu shot (actually it was two shots). I never heard of such a shot for dogs back in the day. Nonetheless, $375 later, I could apply for the county registration.

I took a fishing trip recently and was forced to put Pearl in a nice kennel as nobody would watch her for me. This was a first for her but I thought it would be good for her socialization skills to meet other dogs. Frankly, I dont know how she reacted. The people at the kennel said she was shy among other dogs but did fine. Another $375 later, I picked her up and took her home.

Initially, I was worried she would piddle on the carpets in my house. However, she was trained to do her business on puppy pads and continues to do so to this day. I take her out several times a day, and she does her business outside, but the puppy pads remain the preferred place for her to take a dump, representing another fun task for me to clean up. Oh, by the way, I’ve probably already paid hundreds of dollars for the many packs of pads she has gone through. Did I mention, dogs are much more expensive today than back when we had the shepherds? (Duh).

As I said, I take her out several times a day, the first being somewhere between 5:30am – 6:00am when it is still dark. In my neighborhood, we have coyotes occasionally roam our streets looking for rabbits, cats and small dogs. As I am keenly aware Pearl would make a snack for the coyotes, I arm myself with a Louisville Slugger to fend them off should the necessity require it. So here is this big guy in his night shirt and not much else, out in his driveway waving a bat to protect a small dog. Frankly, even I had to laugh at how preposterous I looked and was glad I still can get up before the neighbors do.

I have also gotten used to her idiosyncrasies, such as giving me a look indicating she wants to be picked up and held, her burps as she looks at me directly in the eyes, her warning barks, her baths, playing with her toys, her snoring, and she is the only dog I’ve known who sleeps comfortably on her back. She used to be scared to ride in the car as it represented a trip to the Vet. Since I’ve had her, I take her out more frequently, roll down her window and let her look and smell the outside world. She loves it.

People have asked me if I intend to put her down, give her to someone, or drop her off at the pound. Since she is just four years old (going on five soon), I cannot in good conscious bring myself to do this. She is still a good basic loving dog, and even though she has become somewhat of an anchor to me, I cannot bring myself to harm her.

More than anything, I have discovered I am the one who has had to make adjustments to my life, not Pearl. After seeing where she hides her toys and how she positions her bed, I now realize it is her home, not mine. Whereas the shepherds we had years ago were low maintenance, “Pearl the Girl” requires much more, and because she craves my attention, I really cannot say “No” to her.

I realize some of you will say, “Tim, you’re spoiling her,” and you might be right. As I see it though, I’m just trying to co-exist with her, but I think she actually got the better of the deal. Perhaps my biggest concern with her is her uncanny ability to get under my feet which will sooner or later lead to me taking a fall. Then she would finally have the house all to herself, which I think was her plan all along.

Keep the Faith!

P.S. – For a listing of my books, click HERE.

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is an author, freelance writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at [email protected]

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

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Copyright © 2021 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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