It’s been a long time – and a lot of adventure – since the last installment of The Muffin Chronicles. I’ve had several people asking about her and wondering if I was ever going to share any more of our adventures with her. Well, seeing as I have this whole blog thing going, I thought: “why not”?!
So Muffin’s pretty well settled in, feeling considerably more content than she was when I first adopted her two and a half years ago. Since we’ve created our little family, she’s been more of a “real dog” than I’ve ever seen her! Muffin’s partner in crime (including that which we’ve not been quick enough to discover) is “Digby”, a Yorkie who is as full of personality as he is mischief and cuteness. Together, they snuggle up, get into lots of trouble, comfort one another, and generally get through the day-to-day happenings of their doggy lives. They’re a couple of peas in a cute-as-heck pod!!
Like so many of us, these days, Muffin is medicated. As you may remember from previous installments, Muffin has issues with separation anxiety … and by “has issues”, I mean she barks a lot, paces frantically, and generally will chew any piece of clothing or material, particularly those she can drag from room to room … like tea towels, blankets, curtains. (Yes, <sigh>, I did say “curtains”.) At first, my partner (HG) and I decided to install cameras to see what set her off: were there particular times or events that caused her upset? Did she get worked up right away, or would she wait a while after we departed? Was Digby helping to calm her down at all, or was he providing her with things to chew? (Come on – as if he wouldn’t do that!!)
What we learned was that: (a) she got upset basically as soon as we left, and would almost immediately look for something to chew; (b) it would take her a while to calm down; (d) Digby was not only unable to calm her down, he was also starting to develop a nervous twitch of his own, probably due to being privy to Muffin’s anxiety.
So, we decided to give Muffin some chew toys. We looked for things that were healthy, non-toxic (of course), and generally wouldn’t do too much damage. She took to them like a duck to water … like a pig to mud … like a dog to … er … chewy things! However, if she didn’t have access to said chewy things (for example after some dental surgery, when she wasn’t allowed to chew anything like that), she would revert to other things again. Thus, whenever we left the house, we had to “de-Muffinize” it: remove any and all things that she might want to chew. (Except for the curtains in the window. I’m still hoping she’ll do the job on those, ‘cause, well, I kinda want to get new ones. But I digress … )
Eventually we spoke with the vet, who suggested a mild anti-anxiety drug might help ease Muffin’s worries. So, for the past 6 months or so, Muffin is on Doggie-Prozac (and I’m on an increased credit limit). While it hasn’t completely fixed the chewing (fortunately, we’ve found some good quality tea towels at a Dollar Store), she’s much more relaxed overall. She will actually allow me to leave the room without following me like a mid-thirties hipster follows Fred Armitage’s career. She also takes to friends and family more easily that she does before. When my parents visited in the past, Muffin would usually need a few days to warm up to them. Now, however, she cuddles up to them after only being with them a few moments! (My Dad’s relentless treat-giving probably helps, as well!)
All of that is not to say that all issues have ended. No, indeed – there are still a few. For example, because she lived in a cage in the top of a barn for 7 years (grrrrrr!!) Muffin doesn’t always have the ability to wait to get to the backyard before relieving herself. Thus, inevitably, whenever we go out for any reason – from a gig that might have us away for a few hours, to a trip to the drug store that might have us away for a few minutes – we’ll often return to a little “surprise” from our girl. (Yes, nothing says “glamour” like being on your hand and knees, still dressed in the outfit you were wearing on stage just an hour earlier, cleaning pee off the floor. <sigh> )
And then there are the trips to the vet! (I now have a credit card that is dedicated to Muffin’s vet bills … and I’ll soon be planning our trip to Fiji using the travel points.) Because she’s part Cocker Spaniel, she has issues with her ears. Thus, there are weekly ear drop applications, weekly ear cleanings, and the general check-ins, infections, and the like that go with having a dog with chronic ear issues.
Like her mother, Muffin also suffers from allergies. We’re still not sure exactly what she reacts to, but she deals with occasional itchiness and redness around the eyes and ears, and (every now and again) we notice some occasional spots on her wee belly. She now receives daily doses of children’s Benadryl during high allergy season) and we keep a bottle of Benadryl spray close-by, in case of belly break-outs. I am now on a first name basis with the entire staff at the Vet’s office, who are starting to thank me for my contributions to their new bonus structure and pension plan. (On a related note, I am now available for corporate engagements, bar mitzvahs, and baby showers … )
And yet, even with all of the issues, the vet bills, the chewed up tea towels and sweatshirts with wee holes in the sleeves, the late-night pee wiping, all it takes is for me to look down to where she lies at my feet each day as I work at my desk, or feel her cuddling up next to me as we settle in to sleep each night to know that I can’t imagine her NOT being a part of our family! Our first Christmas with her, HG bought me a wee plaque that (while grammatically not perfect) states it best: “Who Rescued Who?” Indeed!