A dog-gone tale of highs and lows

The conventional wisdom is that having a dog - or any kind of pet - reduces your blood pressure, leading to a healthier and longer life. I'm not saying that the Americal Medical Association (AMA) is mistaken, but here's my take on that so-called gem: Phooey.

You may suspect that I have a pet or two that don't lend themselves to peaceful blood-pressure readings. You would be correct.

I am an animal lover. I love animals. I especially love my children, who closely resemble animals in more ways than is probably necessary and/or sanitary.

I grew up in the era when it wasn't popular to have your pets spayed or neutered. This meant that we had puppies and kittens running through our yard on a cyclical basis.

Puppies and kittens, much like babies, tend to get bigger and less lovable with time and food. OK, perhaps "less lovable" isn't quite true, but those of you out there with teenagers know exactly what I'm saying.

For years my children were informed that we were not getting a dog. I had four children to care for; I didn't need one more mouth to feed and another body to clean up after, especially a furry one.

We remained blissfully dog-free for 13 years of our married life. About that time I had my blood pressure artificially lowered, which, in fact, caused dog ownership.

Five years ago I was an unwilling participant in an emergency root canal. At the conclusion of this, my face was so swollen that I closely resembled the Sta-Puff Marshmallow Man. I was unable to eat or drink anything of consequence, and my doctor prescribed a powerful narcotic in liquid form.

The following day our family took a trip up to the Cascade Mountains to pick up our oldest daughter from summer camp. I was not, of course, behind the wheel.

About halfway up the mountains I was in such pain that I knew I needed to take some medicine. I found the bottle of liquid happy, but the measuring doo-hickey was nowhere to be found. I had no choice but to swig.

I swigged. I swigged a lot. If swigging had been an Olympic event, I would have garnered the gold.

Hubby decided to stop at a store for some hot soup to see if he could bring me down from my high.

Apparently - and I say this only because I don't have much memory of what happened next - there was a young woman with a cardboard box full of puppies standing at the store entrance. I'm told I picked up a small, furry being and wobbled back to the van with my husband in hot pursuit.

We drove home with the puppy, which proceeded to puke the entire way, sitting on my bare feet for two hours. I still maintain that I am not to blame for this dog that grew to the size of a Shetland pony and ate all the latticework off our deck.

Luckily for her, and my blood pressure, she's calmed down and is now a pleasant addition to our family.

So it must be time to open our hearts and hearth to yet another furry beastie, since the one we have is now trained, calm and enjoyable.

Three days ago my son raced to my bedroom with a little doggie in his arms. Since I hadn't at any time in the past hour swigged a Class 2 narcotic, I was in full possession of my faculties and declared to my hopeful-faced offspring that, yes, it was an adorable, little beagle, and, no, he couldn't keep it.

There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth at that point.

Let's just say that right now my blood pressure is not at an acceptably low level, according to AMA standards, and I blame it all on this dog.

Petting it still doesn't calm me down, especially after it's peed all over my brand-new carpeting. Nope.

This whole get-an-animal-lengthen-your-life-span is a load of hooey.[[In-content Ad]]