A dog in the family: not again!

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 American Medical Association is mistaken, but here's my take on that so-called gem: Phooey. To that comment let me add, "No Way, Jose," "NOT," and the ever-so-teen- popular "As if!"

I guess what I'm saying is that the AMA is dead wrong after all.

You may suspect that I have pets that don't lend themselves to peaceful blood pressure readings. You would be correct.

Let me make something perfectly clear before I proceed. 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 cyclic 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. I won't say more about that on orders from my attorney.

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

We remained blissfully dog-free for 13 years. Around this 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 Stay-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 into 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. I was the Swig Queen, the Swigmeister. It was Swigapalooza, and I was the recipient of an incredible amount of liquid happy. So much so that 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, sitting on my bare feet for two hours, and puking the entire way.

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 air-conditioned bedroom (where I live) with a little doggie in his arms.

Since I hadn't at any time in the past hour swigged a class-two 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 the AMA standard. 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.

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