No Humans Allowed on Planet Dog?

What began as a simple adventure last Thursday ended with enlightenment. Allow me to explain.

Charlee had just returned home from an outing with her dad. Apparently, she found the outing rather disappointing because she immediately ran over to me and did her little dance, i.e., several 360-degree twirls, indicating she wanted something (or more accurately, wanted something more).

Having only a few errands on my agenda, I asked Charlee, ”Do you want Mommy to take you on an adventure?” That obviously was the right question because she ran over to her chain and tapped it with her nose. So, off to The Home Depot (conveniently located next door to PETsMART) we went for a product return now four weeks procrastinated (two birds with one stone, n’est-ce pas?).

The Home Depot's Spacious Carts Rank High on Charlee's List

The Home Depot’s Spacious Carts Rank High on Charlee’s List

Since our home renovations began back in July (yes, we are now in the fourth month after a brief hiatus during August), Charlee has become quite a celebrity at The Home Depot. She likes their spacious orange carts because she can take a nap if the mission there hits a time-consuming snag. Anyway, the return clerk greeted her, petted her and gave her an Alpo Snap. Charlee thanked her with a generous head nuzzle. “Aw. Is Charlee a therapy dog?” the clerk asked. “Mine,” I replied promptly. “Saves me thousands,” I added.

With that errand completed, we headed next door to PETsMART. This particular PETsMART is not Charlee’s favorite because it has a pet daycare and boarding facility, both of which concern her. (She has abandonment issues because I traveled extensively for work over a 10-year span.) Anyway, last Thursday, she wanted out of the store.

Needing to compensate for a rather disappointing PETsMART workout, we power walked the 15-store strip mall as we do in the cooler weather. Generally when we do this, we stop at Fry’s Supermarket, where Charlee jumps on a bench and takes a short breather before heading back to the car. But, not this past Thursday …

Instead, Charlee headed right past Fry’s to the front door of Barnes & Noble, pulling me towards it with determination. “No, Charlee. No dogs allowed in Barnes & Noble,” I said. Charlee, usually one to behave immediately, was insistent that we go inside and sat down on the pavement in front of the door, staring up at me expectantly. “Charlee, no dogs allowed,” I repeated firmly, as she was blocking the door where patrons were gathering. “There’s a Starbuck’s inside,” I explained, knowing without a doubt she totally understood me and the rationale for her outdoor confinement. “Now let’s go.” She obeyed then, albeit reluctantly.

No Humans Allowed on Planet Dog? Pshuh!

No Humans Allowed on Planet Dog? Pshuh!

As we walked slowly back to Fry’s for our short rest on the bench, I felt obligated to alleviate the disappointment I was so certain Charlee was experiencing. “Just think,” I said, trying to cheer her up, “maybe humans are not allowed on Planet Dog.”

Charlee looked at me as though to say, “Of course, humans are allowed on Planet Dog. Who else could we train so well?”

A Memorable September

September was memorable (and not in the best way). Forget about the water damage (six walls in a small condo being ripped out and replaced, including my closet), my clothes being piled on the dining room table for over a month, ruined floors and baseboards, the desert dirt (and scorpions) being inside instead of outside, the bathroom renovations and countless trips to Home Depot, Lowe’s and Ace Hardware.

Quick Home Depot Trip

Quick Home Depot Trip

Renovations are exhausting!

Renovations are exhausting!

While these took their toll on Charlee, none of this mattered when she heard that her Grand Jack had tripped and fallen on a parking lot while chasing his runaway puppy. (Mind you, this did not help her opinion of the puppy at all.) Anyway, Grand Jack and my mother were vacationing in California to celebrate their 53rd wedding anniversary when Grand Jack fell. A Good Samaritan helped him stand and get back to his room, as Grand Jack was unable to walk on his own. Fortunately, three long weeks later, Grand Jack is walking and driving on his own again. Charlee spent time with him this weekend. Yes, that meant she spent time with the puppy, too. (Maybe the puppy will get away next time.)
The Naughty Puppy

The Naughty Puppy

Exclusive Media Interview: Charlee, Celebrity Dog with a Blog

Reporter: What’s it like being a celebrity dog?

Charlee: I am photographed a lot more than most dogs.

Reporter: You mean you dislike that? You’re so photogenic!

Charlee: Thanks. It means my mom weighs me a lot. Remember, I lost eight pounds two years ago and have to keep it off. That’s hard when you are a foodie like I am.

Reporter: I see. Well, you have beautiful brown eyes, although I understand they were green recently. Can you explain?

Charlee: Sure. That would be Mac-too, my grandparents’ new Westie puppy. I wasn’t exactly thrilled about him … maybe somewhat jealous, according to the blog post. We’re okay now though. He understands I am still the favorite.

Reading about My Green Eyes

Reading “Charlee’s Green Eyes”

Reporter: Speaking of favorites, I understand from your most recent and quite impressive sonnet that your mother takes you on an adventure everyday. What is your favorite adventure and why?

Charlee: Well, Petco sells ferrets. They live in big glass houses. I love the ferrets, but they get sold quickly. So, a long-term relationship is not possible.

The guinea pigs at both PETsMART and Petco are fun. I get photographed with them a lot. They have glass houses, too.

Guinea Pigs in Glass Houses

Guinea Pigs in Glass Houses

So do the fish.
Fish in Glass Houses

Fish in Glass Houses

I think PETsMART is my favorite adventure overall because I get a complimentary treat when I leave.
Treat from PETsMART

Complimentary Treat from PETsMART

Reporter: How do you respond to people calling you a spoiled princess?

Charlee: I just matter-of-factly point out their inaccuracy, and explain how I would characterize myself as a “well-behaved” princess. Yes, my mom treats me very well. It’s true. However, she does have rules. I follow the rules.

Reporter: Give me some examples of the rules.

Charlee: That’s easy. I am not allowed to nap on the sofa unless I am on my blanket. I am not allowed junk food of any kind. I have to get my teeth brushed regularly.

Reporter: What’s your sign?

Charlee: My favorite sign is PETsMART. Remember … the complimentary treat?

Reporter, chuckling: No, what’s your Zodiac sign?

Charlee: I don’t know what you mean.

Reporter: Rumor has it that you have a great disposition. Is there anything that irritates you?

Charlee: Chihuahuas.

Reporter: What or where is the famous “magic window” we have heard about?

Not the "Magic Window"

Not the “Magic Window”

Charlee: It’s at In-N-Out Burger. Once a week, my mom drives there to sit in a long line so she can talk to a black box. Once it talks back to her, she drives forward behind other cars until she gets to the first of two windows. She pays at the first window. Then, we sit with other cars and watch people prepare delicious food behind a huge glass window. Finally, we pull up to the second window. That’s the magic window. The teenager at the magic window hands mom a protein-style double meat, and my mouth waters. My mom always laughs and says, “Pavlov,” as she gives me a bite. It’s magical.
At the "Magic Window"

At the “Magic Window”

Reporter: How did you prepare for this interview?

Charlee: My mom prepped me. She does this for a living and is very good at it. She gave me a bath.

Reporter: What made you consent to an interview on M&A Monday?

Charlee: From what I hear, the M&A scene has been pretty slow this summer. So, I was not concerned about the timing.

Reporter: Well, I’m so glad you took the time today. Thank you for sharing what it’s like to be a dog celebrity. I wish you the best in your blogging.

Charlee: Thank you. It has been my pleasure. I appreciate your interest and that of my readers. I wouldn’t be a celebrity without their support. Until the next blog post …

“Adventures” (an Elizabethan Dog Sonnet)

Sunrise with Charlee

Sunrise with Charlee

She spoils me is what some may often say.
PetSmart, Petco, Pet Club and sometimes Lowe’s …
She takes me on adventures everyday,
(and wants to take me flying with “Dog Bose”).

She bathes me weekly and brushes my shedding coat,
Puts cream on my paws and checks my face for stains,
Fastens the pretty pink collar around my throat,
In the ‘Benz we speed to Starbucks drive-thru lane.

An iced venti unsweet’nd green tea for her,
Grande water (and treat she brought) for me,
To the pet store next where cats are adopted and purr.
Lizards, parrots, ferrets and fish we see.

Adventures with my mom are always fun.
But my favorite with her is watching the rising sun.

“What Lovely Jowls You Have, My Dear!”

Does the rawhide accentuate my jowls?

Does the rawhide accentuate my jowls?

So, one of my recent adventures in desert dog walking involved Charlee seeing a dog and yanking me off balance into a cactus. The result: cactus needles embedded in my right hand and the right side of my face. Seven weeks later (after an infection requiring over 10,000 mg of antibiotics to clear and the makings of an ugly scar on my face), I visited a Scottsdale plastic surgeon to weigh my options regarding the impending scar.

Plastic surgeon’s report: the wound is still healing. Nothing can really be done at the moment. Keep doing what I am doing.

No problem, I thought.

In the next breath and with a look approaching disdain, the physician changed the subject. “You really should consider doing something about your jowls, especially at your age,” she said.

“My what?” I asked, perplexed.

With pursed lips and a generously Botox’d forehead, “Your jowls,” she repeated. “You are at the age when they can become problematic for women.”

Oh goodie. Not only have I been through a fairly traumatic seven weeks (and counting) with most likely a permanent scar on my face, but the plastic surgeon somehow felt compelled to introduce a completely new and unrelated issue unbeknownst to me and with such a lovely connotation … “jowls.” Truly, the word alone could create an anaphylactic response for some.

Fortunately, my ordeal with the cactus and ensuing infection must have primed me for this conversation, because I was ready for it. “Really? What do you typically suggest for jowls? Do I need a facelift?” I asked, knowing the question was ludicrous.

“Oh no! You are too young for a facelift,” the physician gave a startled laugh. “We typically recommend a procedure to stimulate collagen growth and tighten the skin.”

“Really? And what are the results of such a procedure? The jowls disappear permanently?”

“Oh no. Results are very subtle,” she explained. “And you don’t really have jowls, per se. I am simply saying that, at your age, you should be thinking about procedures to stave off those ugly things.” She paused a moment, assessing me, and added, “We could probably do your jowls and entire face and neck for about $2,500.” (The continued allusions to my age thrilled me as much as the inclusion of my “entire face and neck” in the context of a blue-light special.)

“I just want to understand,” I said, seeking clarity. “You mean ‘do’ the jowls that I don’t yet have for only $2,500, and you will throw in my entire face and neck?”

“That’s correct,” she nodded, seemingly quite satisfied with her sales prowess. “It would be more of a preventive procedure in your case.”

“Ahh. Well, I think not. My concern is the scar at the moment,” I explained more graciously than I felt. That marked the rather disappointing end of an appointment I had anticipated with such hope.

As I drove home, the plastic surgeon’s words echoed in my head. “Preventive procedures for jowls,“ I muttered aloud. “Women my age,” I snorted.

Did it require a healthy dose of fear and humility like a severe infection, the Grand Canyon of facial wounds, not to mention nearly seven weeks of living the life of a hermit – all to recognize the shallowness and the vanity of scheduling today’s appointment in the first place? Or, was I able to make this observation because jowls are not yet a part of my daily repertoire?

I sighed, knowing I could psychoanalyze this for the rest of the day, month and year (because that’s what I tend to do). Instead, I hurried home for a welcome by Charlee and her unproblematic jowls. (I can only hope mine will be as beautiful as hers some day.)

The Exorbitant Cost of Walking Your Dog in Scottsdale

Contemplating a Dog Walker

Contemplating Hiring a Dog Walker

It can cost a fortune to walk your dog in Scottsdale, especially if you are a woman. No, I am not referring to therapy sessions or ER visits to cope with the javelinas, coyotes, bobcats, snakes, Gila monsters and scorpions. I am referring to the actual cost of walking your dog in Scottsdale, i.e., the desert version of Beverly Hills.

Let’s start with your dog walking attire – a lululemon ensemble, of course, and it runs about $200 if you include the sports bra. Then, you need some MBT sports sandals in a variety of colors to complement your color scheme for the day. The most stylish ones run between $130-$200.

And, you cannot spend that much money on your clothes if you are flabby. You will need a personal trainer several hours each week … another $200.

Next, skincare is of utmost importance in the desert, especially when you are outside for 30-45 minutes several times each day. I use and recommend a variety of products. For sunscreen, I prefer the COOLA organic suncare collection. To moisturize the skin around my eyes, I love SkinMedica; for full face, I prefer Jan Marini. The “I-had-the-best-tan-of-anyone-in-the-world-during-my-teens-and-20s” sun damage repair is a work-in-progress with Obagi’s Nu-Derm System and Fraxel laser treatments at the helm. Estimated total cost for skincare: several thousands of dollars.

Of course, you must keep your hair conditioned in this desert oven. My preferred hair care lines are Oribe and Moroccan Oil these days, but I am a fickle consumer. Cost? Conservatively, $300 for my favorite mists, creams and oils from each line.

What about the mandatory manicure and pedicure? Those hands and heels must be hydrated, and nails adorned with shiny polish. Add $75-$150 if you visit a salon. (I prefer to do my own. The OPI nail polish line makes me happy, although Dior is my favorite. For hydrating the desert heels, nothing works better for me than Theraplex Emollient.)

I won’t even delve into the Botox, Dysport, Restylane and Perlane treatments (or other plastic surgery procedures). You can easily add thousands more to your dog walking expenditures, depending on the “work” done and which plastic surgeon or dermatologist does the “work.”

Bottom line: it’s cheaper to hire a dog walking service.

The Belly Rub Panacea: A Dog Sonnet

I'm sooooo sorry.

I’m sooooo sorry.

Barking all night at the moon,
An awakened neighbor at the front door,
The situation could balloon
If I ever do that anymore.

Digging a hole in the landscaper’s prize,
He is pounding at the back door.
I wag my tail and bat my eyes.
Staying out of trouble is a chore.

I chased a bunny into the street.
A driver had to swerve to avoid it.
My master was angry and really did Tweet
That I was for sale for one minute.

So, I was scolded for being naughty today and rightfully so, I admit.
But, I rolled over and showed my pink tummy, and a belly rub I did get.