Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Social Network "Friends"

“It takes a long time to grow an old friend.”
John Leonard

As the author of Life with McDuff: Lessons Learned from a Therapy Dog, I’ve been told that I should be on social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Myspace. I’m informed it would be good for book sales. I decline to participate except on a few business-related sites such as LinkedIn and Henderson Chamber of Commerce. Personally, I believe the amount of time I’d spend connecting with “friends” would adversely affect my marketing and promoting in other targeted areas. However, if you have the spare time and enjoy connecting and reconnecting with old classmates, childhood friends and the likes, by all means go for it.

Tell the truth. Would you really want to be friends with Charlie Sheen, Lady Gaga, or Paris Hilton? Like so many other things in our culture the word “friend” has taken on a whole new meaning.

To have a few true friends in a lifetime is rare. I’ve been blessed with many. Friends travel fifty miles to sit with you at your mother’s wake; friends stay in constant touch down through the years; friends never forget your birthday; friends encourage and support you even in your hair-brained endeavors; friends help you pack up and move cross country even though they want you to stay; and friends tell you what’s truly important in their lives instead of every mundane thing that they do.

I write about my friends in the book chapter, “Go West, Young Scottie.” Even though I am far away from them, we share deaths, births, illnesses and photos without being on Facebook, Twitter or Myspace. In my opinion, nothing beats unlimited minutes cell phone calls.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Therapy Dog McDuff and The Pill War

I once heard a Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show announcer say as the Scottish terriers majestically entered the show ring, “The Scottish terrier is the only breed of dog that knows it is smarter than its master.” I didn’t understand what he meant then, but that was before The Pill War with my Scottish terrier, McDuff, began.

Why would giving McDuff medication be any different than giving my previous dogs pills from the veterinarian? Just hide the pill in a piece of cheese, wiener, or lunch meat and give it to him. Right? Wrong.

He’d gently take whatever I had hidden the pill in from my hand, chew once, drop it, and repeat the process until the pill fell out. Then he’d eat the cheese, wiener or whatever and walk away savoring every bite.

I told a friend at work about my problem. She suggested I put the pill far back in McDuff’s throat, hold his mouth shut, and rub his throat until he was forced to swallow. It always worked with her dog. What she didn’t factor into the equation was a Scottie with a severe case of lockjaw. He’d seen the pill and knew what I was up to. No matter how hard I pried and threatened, I couldn’t get him to open his mouth. Foiled again!

Someone told me about peanut butter. I gave him a huge glob with the buried pill. He smacked and licked until the peanut butter melted and spat out the pill. To rub it in, he continued to smack his mouth long after he walked away.

Frustrated beyond belief, I called his vet and recounted my many attempts to medicate McDuff. He said, “Put the pill in his dog food.” Why hadn’t I thought of that. It worked! For a week the dog bowl was licked clean every day and the pill gone. Fooled him at last. No way is a dog smarter than I am.

Noticing that the dog bowl next to his water container was cruddy, I decided to wash it. What did I find when I lifted it up? Seven pills neatly lined in a row. He had hidden them between the dog bowl and water container all week!

Calling the vet in tears, I blurted out my finding. He laughed out loud and said, “That McDuff is one smart dog. Come to my office and get capsules to break apart and mix in his dog food.” I did and although I was skeptical, it worked. So tell me something. Why did I feel I had won the battle, but lost the war?