You may have read about my dog Star, the Magical Dog of All, as I introduced her to Medium.com in her story You is a Good.
But there is another side to her…a side I do not share so readily. It is her…Bad side.
Star is the worst dog to walk in the world. I saw Caesar Milan last week, on a trip to San Diego, playing ball with some kids. I almost begged him for help. But I kept walking and now live in regret.
You see, Star is both an angel and a monster in one. Perhaps this stems from her surviving a rather hard life:
I rescued her at 1.5 years old from a kill shelter. She looked and acted like a puppy then and still does. She has a joi de vivre for life!
However, though she knew some indoor tricks and acted like an angel when surrounded by four walls and no presence of food, she came to me completely untrained on the leash! I tried everything to tame her. The nose collar (she would dive her face into the grass to free herself of the cursed muzzle), the torso harness (she would dig her nails into the cement and not budge an inch until removed), and finally the choke prong collar — which works to an extent to reign her impulses in. It looks cruel as the Spanish Inquisition but her vet assures me that Star has a thick neck and it does not work hurt. And it’s the only thing that works even a bit to control.
In desperation once, I took Star to the best private dog trainer in Chicago. Her name was Rendy, and she was a fierce Lesbian with a pixie-cut and the worst people skills of anyone I’ve ever met. She couldn’t carry on three coherent sentences with me. But with Star… she became the Alpha Doggess. A quick inhale of air to her lips on the syllable “tsk,” and Star was summoned into a state of pure obedience. I am exaggerating, but it feels true enough! Star was a perfect on the leash for nearly 4 hours before she lapsed back into bad habits.
Yet, despite her boisterous nature, Star came to me as one sick dog. I discovered the cancer — a Stage II mast cell tumor — on her neck when she was only 2 years old. I now believe it’s why she was abandoned at the kill shelter. We went into surgery terrified and unsure of prognosis. They got good margins around the tumor, and I was relieved and relaxed until 8 months later when they discovered another tumor, even bigger this time. I was very sure Star would die. After her second surgery, on the advice of one Improv Legend Charna Halpern, I took Star to a holistic dog therapist.
The therapist summoned her into a room. “Why is this healthy dog blowin’ cancer?” she mused in a Brooklyn accent. To reach her prescription, the dog therapist held a tub of each separate medicine available on top of Star’s head and told me to connect my arm to the tub. Then, the therapist pushed down hard on my arm to test my muscle strength. If my muscle was weak, it meant Star needed the drug. Like a dowsing rod, my strength psychosomatically grew and wavered with each drug, and we soon knew the exact medicines Star needed:
- Natural, homeopathic, carb-free, human-grade, expensive dog food for the rest of her life.
- Daily cocktail of oncology meds
- Dog pot
Yes, Star was one of the first dogs to ingest dog pot — which is sans active THC but loaded with marijuana’s natural cannabinoids, which, I come to learn, help fight cancer! Does this sound exaggerated? It actually isn’t!
As she went on the holistic food and onco meds, Star’s plight came to the attention of the media: a.k.a. My Facebook Profile. Soon, my friend who is a Dog Reiki healer contacted us to give a pro-bono session to Star. She arrived at my apartment and was immediately gentle with my baby; they formed a bond. I was not permitted to watch the Reiki session being performed, but when I returned from a stroll around the neighborhood, I noticed Star’s hair everywhere. She had shed a coat! Something in her had shifted, and her health improved. It has been remarked ever since that “she still looks like a puppy.” The healthiest dog of all.
Also, it doesn’t matter that she is fed A+ grade dog food, Star is permanently hungry and on the prowl for free food. It’s not cause she is underfed; it’s because we know now that Labradors lack the gene to know when satiated. And Star, as the $80 genetic DNA test I splurge on once confirmed, is a full Lab.
Which brings us to today.
Sometimes, I can’t walk my baby. It’s a shame to ask anyone else to suffer through it. Star is a wild-eyed, pigeon-chasing beast. Once she caught a pigeon while we were crossing the street and ripped it’s neck apart, blood pouring from her jowls. Old women goggled and lightly screamed in the background as I wrested the dead bird from her mouth.
But sometimes, my schedule just doesn’t allow me to walk her. Recently, I got connected to a dog walking app called Wag!, that pairs Star to a walker who can pick her up at any time via lockbox arrangement. What facility! What ease! And their app would give me a Report Card of her progress!
Suffice it to say, Star didn’t do so well on these walks. This is the feedback from each session:
Day 1: She made a number of attempts for nearby food, and at one point she attempted to crawl into a trash bag.
Day 2: Unfortunately, the streets around the park were, for some reason, littered with sticks of butter. I managed to steer her clear of most, but she grabbed one and swallowed maybe a quarter of it before I pulled it out of her mouth.
Day 3: We bypassed the park, so as to avoid errant sticks of butter…she tried hard to go for an unidentified red thing, but was able to pull her away.
I do not know what to say. I have come to accept my baby, with all her flaws and sickness and health, and I love her dearly. I do my best. Sometimes, the dog is the dog…and she ain’t gonna change!
But seriously, Rendy the Dog Trainer, if you ever read this and come to NY, please help me.
You can follow Star and her evilness on instagram at https://www.instagram.com/starthelab