For a while it appeared that I would be returning to my comfortable queen-sized bed, spooning with my wife on a mattress that contours to my body and enables me to wake each morning feeling fresh and vigorous. But that would have meant putting down the dog and we just could not bring ourselves to do it.
Muffin has been a member of our family for two years now. We found him at a rescue center for Bichons and other small dogs when he was 11 years old, and he became our children’s first pet. Everyone in the family appreciates Muffin in his or her own way, but there’s no denying he’s my dog.
My daughter says it’s because I’m a “softy.” When Muffin moved in, we (read, “my wife”) decided on a few ground rules, including that no dogs would be allowed upstairs, which is where the humans sleep. And so on his first night in our house, we all went to bed, closing the stairway door behind us, and leaving Muffin with the saggy couch downstairs.
Apparently, I was the only one who heard the high-pitched whining at two in the morning, or at least the only one who was bothered by it. I headed downstairs to check on the poor guy and somehow ended up spending the rest of the night on the saggy couch, sleeping with a dog on my chest because, well—I’m a softy. And from then on, there was no doubt that I was, am, and always will be Muffin’s favorite person.
He follows me from room to room, sleeps at my feet while I’m working, barks piteously when I leave the house, and greets me at the door with a wagging tail when I return home. I’ll admit that it has bolstered my ego. He makes me feel … so loved!
Still I try not to be one of those people who anthropomorphizes his pet. Yes, Muffin and I do have a few things in common—we both like pepperoni pizza, having our ears scratched, and walking through the park. Yet there’s no denying he’s a dog, and I’m not. Unlike me, he delights in urinating on fire hydrants, and doesn’t mind if his pepperoni pizza has been previously regurgitated onto the sidewalk by a drunken college student.
My family enjoyed Muffin so much that we got ourselves a second dog. She keeps him company and enabled me to resume sleeping upstairs … for a while.
Over the summer Muffin developed a serious dental problem, which worsened even after having 19 of his teeth extracted. The condition involved an extremely painful mouth and excessive drooling. Muffin drooled on himself and, wherever he went, left behind a trail of rank smelling saliva. And I do mean rank. I don’t know how to describe the stench but if you take the 3 foulest odors you can imagine, combine them, and then multiply by 100, you’ll have a vague idea of what Muffin smelled like.
Muffin lost weight, then he stopped eating, and we all feared his days on earth were numbered. The little doggie was seriously sick, and of course, he sought out extra loving from his favorite person. I took to sleeping on the saggy couch with him, allowing him to rest on my chest and drool all over my clothes. My daughter came downstairs each morning and declared, “Dad, you’re a softy—and you stink.”
After spending several nights with Muffin, not only did my back hurt, but also his stench seemed to have become permanently entrenched in my olfactory nerve. You know how it is when you get a song stuck in your head? It was like that, except instead of a song it was a smell.
Even after a 15-minute shower, a change of clothes, and a healthy dose of deodorant, I could not escape the lingering sense that I still stunk. I became paranoid whenever I was in public. When the woman standing in line behind me at Trader Joes’s moved to a different checkout lane I knew it was because she could not endure my stench.
We asked the veterinarian if there was anything we could do to stop Muffin’s drooling and improve his aroma that would not cost us a lot of money. The short answer to that question was “no.” So in order to save Muffin’s life, we had the veterinarian remove the rest of Muffin’s teeth. She said he had something called Chronic Ulcerative Paradental Stomatitis, or CUPS as they call it in the doggie dental world.
Neither Obamacare nor Romneycare provides for canines with pre-existing conditions, so we won’t be going to Disneyland any time soon. But who needs Mickey Mouse? We’ve got Muffin, and though he’s toothless, I’m happy to report that he’s getting better every day. Of course, since his surgery, he has needed a lot of extra loving.
So I’m sleeping downstairs on the saggy couch with my dog again until he makes a full recovery. I wake up each morning with a wrenching pain in my back. But I’m all right with it. At least he no longer stinks. And neither do I.