Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Will Mikey Like It?
Mikey is the King of our Castle. A pretty impressive title for a four legged creature that we found on the street at six weeks old, covered with ticks, fleas, dirt, and assorted vegetation. We know his age because he was so young; as long as there are still baby (puppy) teeth, a vet can determine the age of the pup by simply counting the ones that remain. Mikey had every tick and flea-borne illness known to dogs, but he had "that face."
Mikey smiles. He smiled then and, eleven years later, he’s still smiling. His smiles are not merely in our own heads. When Mikey takes us for a walk, people who see him say “That dog is smiling” even before they ask what kind of dog he is.
What breed is Mikey? We wish we knew. Our answer is usually “He’s a Mikey.” Then comes the discussion: “He looks like an Airedale, No he must be a Scottish deer hound” (Scottish deer hounds are much bigger than Mikey.) “He’s some kind of terrier.” Our vet hasn’t done much better; his guess is that somewhere in his lineage is a German Shepherd.
It doesn’t matter what he is. Or maybe it does. Mikey is eleven years old and is irreplaceable on all levels. Has anyone cloned dogs yet? With every day, each day that adds to Mikey’s age, I have to continually quote I don’t remember whom: “It’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” We lost Harley, our beloved Tibetan terrier whom we also found on the street, over five years ago and I still haven’t gotten over it. Do we ever?
Fortunately, with lots of time, love, medication, and hospital stays, we did cure Mikey’s illnesses. It must have cost us thousands, but we prefer not to engage in calculating money spent to preserve the life of someone we love. When Harley started to fail due to his congenital heart condition, we kept him alive and happy for six extra months. Why are veterinary medications so expensive?You can ask any of my children about King Mikey. When our daughter visited from California, she couldn’t understand why she couldn’t sit next to her father. No, that was Mikey’s seat. She tried pushing him, tempting him with treats, and calling him. No dice. Mikey won.
Mikey might be the smartest dog we’ve ever lived with. (Our many Dobermans didn’t even show up on the chart with Mikey.) Mikey is capable of two stage thinking. When I asked Mikey (You don’t tell Mikey what to do.) to get his “baby,” one of his many stuffed animals all named “Baby,” from the lawn and bring it into the house, he dutifully picked it up, unlatched and opened the front door, put Baby in the front hall, and stood in the doorway smiling, wagging his tail and saying “That was easy, now give me a hard one.” No, I didn’t use any body language to
tell ask Mikey what do. And I have a witness. My granddaughter is still telling everyone how smart Mikey is.
I could go on and on with tales of Mikey. But…Mikey does have his downside. He never heard or believed “Mikey Likes It.” He doesn’t like much and, when we think we’ve found something he will eat on the first try, the $12 plus that we proceed to invest on the same treat goes to waste. Mikey doesn’t like anything for very long.
I’m determined to find something that Mikey likes. I’ve always been a crazy cook. I have had a cooking school, used to make my own ravioli, sausages, and even tried my had at homemade couscous, and I have more than 200 cookbooks on my shelves. I know the contents of each, but have extracted and altered, at the most, one or two recipes from each cookbook. Think of the space I could save if each cookbook were reduced to one or two pages.
Everyone I know calls me to ask me how to cook all sorts of things. The most memorable call was from a good friend who described her surgeon husband’s very neat surgical repairs to the skin of the duck while she was trying to follow my recipe for Peking duck. No, you don’t have to be a surgeon to make Peking duck, but you have to be prepared for the incessant barking of your dogs as the ducks sway back and forth while they are drying.
And then there were the fresh noodles that I left hanging on a laundry drying rack in my kitchen. The dog ate all of those, right off the rack. Making noodles is good exercise so I made some more, but made sure to keep the dog away.
I want to cook or bake or prepare dog food and dog treats from the same ingredients, barring those that are known to be bad for dogs, that I use in my daily cooking. It will take lots of experimenting, but I know I can make dog biscuits while I’m making oatmeal cookies. I’ll just separate the dog’s portion prior to adding the doggie no-no’s. When I prepare our meals, I can do the same and feed Mikey the same foods as we eat.
Will Mikey like it? I sure hope so.
Posted by Joanne Gruskin at Wednesday, September 28, 2011