Wednesday, September 24th, 2008 • No Comments on A Battle of Wills (And I Am Losing)
My dog is a stubborn little bastard. Don’t get me wrong, I mean that in the most loving—and even admiring—way. But when he’s sick and needs medication (like now), it would be nice to have one of those docile dogs that simply obeys. Henry is not that dog. Not even now, at age twelve and a half, when he’s recovering from major surgery.
Henry will not take medication easily. In a former life, he must have been one of those people who rejected modern medicine. He is in favor of the natural way of things to stay healthy: sunshine, lots of naps, rolling in bunny poop, eating grass. Normally, I would be fine with that (except the rolling in bunny poop part—he is also adverse to bathing), but just days ago he had a very large mass surgically removed. (That mass has now proven to be malignant, which is sad post for another day as we navigate the possibilities of further treatment.) He needs medication. A lot of medication.
Giving Henry medicine the old-fashioned way (pry mouth open, throw pill in, clamp jaws shut) results in pulled muscles and the risk of losing fingers. I am not kidding. It is a stressful, physical activity for both of us where the end result is a pissed off dog, several semi-dissolved pills melting in dog drool (and said pills might end up anywhere— stuck in his fur, flung across the room or, yes, in my hair) and me being no closer to getting him medicated than I was when I started an hour previous and now in need of a clothing change and perhaps a bandage. And a drink. Make that two.
So, it would seem the logical solution to the difficult-to-medicate dog would be to hide his medication in food. Ahhh… clever! Except, Henry is smarter than that. After just a couple days of confinement to the kitchen with nothing to do but think, he has come to the conclusion that I am attempting to kill him through torture and poisoning. I can understand his suspicion: the dog who previously was allowed to jump on the furniture and sleep on the bed is now confined to the kitchen, has a shaved butt filled with sutures and is forced to wear a large, uncomfortable device around his neck that inhibits walking, seeing and eating. Of course I’m trying to kill him—and giving him poison in pill form is but one of my many torture techniques.
Feeding Henry food laced with medication has become an exercise in trickery often ending in futility (and much uneaten food). Lest you shake your head, thinking to yourself, “She just needs to give him people food. Dogs love people food,” let me reassure you—this dog isn’t being served Alpo. No, dear readers, this dog has been offered a menu to rival the finest restaurants—or at least a decent chain restaurant. Want proof? Here is what Henry has been offered in the past four days:
—pork barbecue that won the Bobby Flay Throwdown
—peanut butter and bread
—Gerber’s Graduates Meat Sticks
—sauteed strip steak
This, in addition to salmon-flavored cat food, Pedigree canned dog food, cat treats (he usually scarfs them down before the cats can get them), and whatever leftovers I’m eating (chili and soup, so far). I have so many plastic containers in my refrigerator that I could feed an entire neighborhood of dogs. But my dog? Hell, no, I won’t be poisoning him any time soon.
It’s not all failure and tears. We have our good days. Or good parts of days. Tonight wasn’t one of those good parts, but tomorrow is another day.* I still haven’t tried giving him a McDonald’s cheeseburger, after all.
*After writing this, I tried getting him to take his meds one more time by hiding them in cat treats. It worked. I have no idea why it worked now and not three hours ago. He is not only a stubborn dog, he is a mysterious dog.