I’m 23 and Single and I Care More About My Dog’s Health than My Own

Sure, I have better things to talk about (like a camping trip this past weekend, or VBS all the way back in July, or Camp NaNo), but it struck me recently that it was about time for another “I’m 20-Something and Single” post.

No, I won’t link you to the other two posts in this “series”. While I was proud of them at the time, I can definitely say that this unreliable narrator has grown as a person. At least a little. And if you dare look back at either of those posts, I hope you’ll be inclined to agree.

I’m still a bitter human, but I’m working on it.

Back in July, I signed on to teach a VBS class again. Past experience has taught me that there is one way to introduce myself to avoid distractions later. Behold:

“Hello. My name is Miss Phoebe. Before you ask, no, I’m not married, I’m not dating, I don’t have kids, I still live with my parents, and I have a dog.”

Tada!

Sure, any notion my students may have had about me being a stable, successful human are quickly dissolved, but I prefer to be level with people. No one, least of all myself, should be expected to take me too seriously.

And yes, my dog is about the most exciting aspect of my life some days. I have a client at work who likes to ask how my “doggy” is doing every time she talks to me. I keep a picture of Moxie at my desk, next to my family and a snap of Aiden with my dearly-departed hen Lobelia. Right now, Moxie’s woes are consuming most of my spare thoughts and as much of my spare cash.

(Let’s be honest: I still live at home, so I can’t tell you about my newest lesson in home ownership or about decorating my own space; I don’t own a fancy car that be trusted for grocery trips, much less road trips, so I don’t get out much; I’m not good about people and have few friends, so the stories of my social escapades are limited; and I read, but it’s usually the same books over and over again. I don’t have much material to work with.)

If you’ve been around for any length of time, you’ll know I’m not a shining star of dog ownership – not by any stretch of the imagination. I do not walk my dog every single day (I’m working on it, I promise), I often forget to groom her properly, and she doesn’t eat top-of-the-line food; forget about her emotional issues, because not even dog Prozac helped there. Dogs are not supposed to be this complicated.

A combination of these factors came to a head this summer and resulted in some nasty hot-spots that I let go a week longer than I ought to have. I’m not a fan of administering Benadryl to my canine companion* (though it does calm her down better than the aforementioned Prozac), so I’ve consistently ignored my mother’s admonishment to dose up the dog.

The consequences? Furniture that’s always sitting off-kilter thanks to Moxie rubbing against chair arms and sides; deep sleep regularly interrupted by the sounds of Moxie pacing and scratching; a very frustrated live-in dog sitter whose daily reports now consist solely of “she won’t stop scratching”; and a couple of hot-spots along Moxie’s back that are worse than normal.**

As with everything in life, I faced this issue with research. While I found some home remedies to try, I also learned about the different layers of fur in an Aussie’s coat and that this breed of dog sheds year-round, which explains a lot, even if she is mostly lab.

Current attempts at remedying this situation:

  • A bath for Moxie with anti-itch shampoo
  • Trimming the beautiful, wavy fur around the spots so my dog now looks mangy
  • Cleaning the wound with everything from ACV and water to comfry salve
  • Buying a soft cone of shame to deter biting
  • Cringing over pictures of dogs whose struggles are worse that Moxie’s
  • Restarting my attempts at daily walks, because it calms Moxie, which means less scratching

A year ago the doggy shrink mentioned that Moxie’s food was likely contributing to her mental issues and we were advised to upgrade. I did so, reluctantly, but we didn’t shift very far up the scale. Now I’m looking at grain-free, chicken-free alternatives, because Moxie won’t eat her food without an egg or coconut oil poured over it and food is important to her. I believe enough of what I read on the internet that I’m picky, so it hasn’t taken much to narrow down our options.

I can’t believe I’ve just written all of this. My dog has allergies I’m attempting to treat with supplements and a change in diet. She has anxiety. She gets more medicine for a hot spot than I gave myself for bronchitis.

All of this work is severely undermining every preconceived notion I had about dog ownership. Sure, I’m willing to invest some money into making my companion happy and healthy, but I’ve always been of the mindset that dogs were meant to be our companions, not to be mollycoddled; they certainly weren’t creatures who needed psycho therapy and specialized diets. Finding the balance is taking some serious effort.

Other things I’ve researched lately?

Small-to-medium, low-maintenance mixed dog breeds. Because when Moxie gets into her golden years and I’m ready for another puppy (hah), I will be getting an easy-to-train, low-energy, MALE dog for my next canine adventure. Mixed because of the lower health risks, smaller because food will not cost quite as much and they’re easier to accommodate, and male because 1) I need a dog named Samwise or Winston and 2) I don’t think I could handle another hormonal female creature in my care.***

So here I am: 23, still solidly single, still living at home, bitter, hungry, earning 50 cents a month on my savings account, and trying to fix my dog’s problems with coconut oil so we can avoid potentially-deadly trip to the vet. Please send gelato and prayers.

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*Someone on the internet said regular Benadryl doses would eventually have the opposite of the desired effect, thanks to the dog’s system developing an immunity. I listened; I like to pretend I lean toward a more holistic approach to health.

**Yes, this happens every year. We’ve kind of just learned to deal with it. One year we had to trim off a lot of Moxie’s wavy fur to clean up a spot. Next to this year’s event, that was the worst.

***I know some of you are thinking “but what about children?” Yes, I mean those as well. Just try to picture me with a daughter. When you stop laughing and you can see again, I think you’ll agree that it isn’t a pretty picture.

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