Before I brought my dog, Mabel, into my home, I tried to prepare as much as possible. I read at least a dozen books, I loitered in dog parks, I pestered pet supply store clerks. I understood that there was no point in buying stuff like collars before I had an actual dog to measure, but I purchased basic items like stainless steel food bowls and poop bags so that my new pal would enjoy some basic comforts after her days in the shelter. As one friend tried to tell me, there was no way to really know what my dog would need until I’d gotten to know her. I had no idea what bizarre stuff I’d wind up buying to meet Mabel’s needs and express my love. Here’s a short rundown of the weirdest things I bought for my dog.
A Bit of Antler
Mabel loves to gnaw the small piece of antler I gave her. Hopefully, it’s keeping her tartar under control. It certainly keeps her out of trouble while she’s grinding away at it. There’s some controversy about the safety of antlers for pets, but Mabel’s bit doesn’t appear to be anywhere close to splintering or shattering.
Freeze-dried Lamb Lung
This domestically grown tasty nasty is one of Mabel’s favorite motivators. In spite if its gruesome origins, it’s a relatively low-mess treat. I can easily carry a few bits in my pocket when I take Mabel for a walk.
Food With Pictures of Wolves on the Label
When I first saw a sample package of a certain brand of dog food, which I will not name, I thought, “Lord, what a load of pretentious crap.” Here’s a quote from packaging:
Modern science proves that your dog shares the DNA of the wolf.
Sure, my dog shares some DNA with the wolf. I share DNA with the marmoset, but that doesn’t mean we should eat the same food. Well, now my dog is eating my words. It turns out that this brand is fine kibble for the price. Mabel’s favorite flavor, salmon, comes in a bag illustrated with a pack of wolves stalking a group of bears by a stream. The thought of my 13-pound terrier mutt tussling in the water with a grizzly is terrifying and laughable. She doesn’t even like to get wet. The closest Mabel comes to the call of the wild is sniffing for squirrels at a nearby college campus–and eating this food.
I used to think the Iditarod dog sled race was the only legitimate place for dog boots until I had to carry Mabel over icy, salty sidewalks last winter. A decent set of dog boots made wintertime “business” walks less painful.
The 4 Lazy Legs dog carrier is sold by a Dutch company. I imagine they were inspired by the a land populated by tall people with short dogs. This company understands my needs. Sure, I feel a bit dorky carrying Mabel in a what looks like a baby sling–as if the boots weren’t silly-looking enough. Perhaps the neighbors think this is part of some motherhood delusion, though I know Mabel is a full grown dog, not a human infant. Most people who even bother to look twice appear to be charmed at the sight of my joy-riding dog. But the sling is more practical than it seems. It lets me take my dog on long walks and hikes without slowing down when her six-inch legs get tuckered out.
So let people smile or smirk. I’m waiting for someone to come right out and say, “Dang, that’s one ugly baby!” Philly, I know you have it in you.