Author’s Suggested “Cold Wet Nose is Medicine Enough”

By Gus Bode

Not Just Another Priddy Face

I once read in a magazine that pet owners have lower average blood pressure than non-pet owners. That sounded okay, so now I have a dog.

My blood pressure wasn’t that high to begin with, really, so I just got a little dog. Six-and-a-half pounds of fuzz. Come to think of it, there’ve been times in the past the doctor would rig up the old sphigmonomabaloober thingy to my arm, and after squeezing the little balloon tight enough to discern my bone mass through the Velcro strap, look at me and say, “Hmm. Thirteen over six. Are you even alive?”


Enter the pet. While I am now living proof that the article I read was entirely case study and unreliable, I can at least finally go to the

doctor’s office without having to confess, “You’re right. I am actually

dead. That tiny reading that does show up on your instrument was caused entirely by post mortem muscle spasms. They’re an after-effect from the last time you tried to amputate my arm with a Velcro band and a squeezy ball. In fact, my dog sensed something was wrong when my arms went limp. He was the one who drove us here.”

The thing is, my vital statistics and stress levels have actually gone up since Cleremont came into my life. Now I have more to worry about. Another mouth to feed, another life to be in danger. I’m a veritable wreck. And worst of all, I’ve dragged my loved ones into it. He makes these little noises every time he sees my Mom. He sounds sort of like those Taun-Taun creatures from Empire Strikes Back. My parents have nicknamed him Kujo. My co-workers call him Rat Dog, and my boyfriend simply refers to him as the “Other Guy.”

As my landlord tends to dislike most small things that are noisy, make on the carpet, and/or leave their security deposits under the bushes, I now share joint canine custody with my parents. And he has become their pride and joy.

Any trace of empty nest syndrome Mom and Dad might have felt when I moved out has disappeared faster than my father’s slippers. And where my parents were previously a very civic-minded, socially interactive couple, our phone conversations have now been reduced to the following:Gracey:”Hi, Mom. I was wondering if my Visa bill ever came in the mail.”

Mom:”Let me check. Oh! The dog jumped in my lap. Do you want to talk to the dog?”


Gracey:”Well, I really need to know if-“

Mom:”Do you hear that, Cleremont? That’s your kid!” (To me) “Say his name. He can hear your voice.”

Mom:”He’s licking the receiver. Can you hear him? The vet says he’s going to need surgery on that eye…”

All right, so now I feel guilty. I take care of my Visa bill, and then start to miss him.

Gracey:”OK. Put the dog on the phone.”

Mom:”Can’t. He just left. Had to drive your father to the store.”

My dog is having his eye operated on today. And the vet’s office doesn’t even let you stay and know what’s going on. We go in the morning, leave him there alone all day, and then at six o’clock we pick up my dog, who is now wearing a giant traffic cone around his face over which he will brood, and I will waste several rolls of film.

So, in the meantime, I’m stuck at work with a racing pulse and no concentration. All I can think of is my poor little Cleremont, and how abandoned he must feel right now. I guess it’s a dog’s life, but just the same, I pray for his quick recovery. My blood pressure is soaring, my parents are lonely, and if I get any more worked up, I’m not going to be able to drive myself home. Godspeed, little guy. Godspeed. Your kid loves you.