Worried About Pushkin
For three nights this week I worried about putting my best friend “down.” Since we two live alone behind downtown’s yellow door, this would have left me grief-struck and bereft. But Pushkin recovered from whatever “ailed” him.
As I’ve said frequently, the English pointer and I both are old and gimpy. I was given him for my 70th birthday almost 14 years ago. People who relate to their pets term me “master:” the relationship doesn’t exist between Pushkin and me. Some have praised me for intelligence; he’s no less knowledgeable and sage. Without being able to articulate words, he communicates nevertheless. Wisely, he insists on exercise. He stands firmly in the middle of the library until I fetch the leash.
A recent scientific study showed dogs have been man’s best friends for some 33,000 years. Although English pointers are a hunting breed, I’m not about to drag him through swamps in search of birds. He’s much more than a friend; he’s at the center of my universe. I read unbelieving news stories dealing with man’s inhumanity to four-legged critters; sometimes, booze and drugs take the blame. My feeling is that the sadistic streak exists before the first drink or hit.
State Sen. Ron Young was Frederick’s mayor when I moved up from Bethesda 29 years ago; he’s introduced a bill – dropped into the hopper Wednesday – that would hamper people who mistreat dogs. No law can eliminate their ownership completely. But once convicted of cruelty, their photographs, fingerprints and addresses would be published on a list, and “charge them $50 a year to fund the registry,” which appears on the Maryland Department of Public Safety web site.
In a press release, accompanying his statement last week, the senator talked particularly of “a beautiful dog” killed by bow and arrow in Frederick, and a Baltimore man throwing a Yorkshire terrier 50 feet off a townhouse balcony. We’ve read accounts of animals starved and without medication for their sores and awful conditions. Luckily, my best friend cannot read or speak.
Pushkin and I went to West Frederick Veterinary Hospital last Thursday to receive acupuncture, as many readers know. Dr. Stacy Di Maria is a medical whiz, handy with the Chinese pins. Upon return, the English pointer refused food; that I’ve never seen before. His appetite didn’t improve. I called for Dr. Di Maria and took him in Friday for blood tests and X-rays. She gave him a shot.
Friday, Saturday and Sunday I lay awake worrying about my best friend, dreading I would be forced to put him down. He could not stand on his hind legs, but somehow miraculously he pulled himself out the back door; while I watched, he did his “business.” And he mounted the stairs to our second-floor sleeping quarters every evening. Appetite? Forget it. On Monday morning, while I showered, Pushkin arose from his bed, ate and stepped around the patio. We resumed the North Market Street promenades Tuesday.
As I have been writing this column, the English pointer has snored from the library’s love seat, his customary throne and daytime bed. That’s his routine after the promenades.