Tomorrow marks the one year anniversary of the “Schnauzerthon,” a weekend activity with the dogs that we invented. Last year we attended The Soulful Giving Concert to listen to a couple of cover bands and ended up buying a pricey doggy stroller at auction prices to support the cause. Ever since then it’s been the private carriage for our aging schnauzer, Tinker, and enables her to join us for long walks and what we call “Schnauzerthons.” I will run while pushing Tinker in her fancy Air Buggy while my wife walks her sister Tally on the leash. At various points throughout the route, we will switch roles, giving Tally a chance to run, or my wife will take both dogs and give me some solo running time. It takes about an hour to complete, as Tinker finishes the last several hundred yards unassisted.

Tinker is nearing the 15 1/2 year mark, putting her age at about 108 dog years. She got a festive new orange and pink vest (Vesty LeRue we call it) to mark the occasion. My wife bought it on her recent business trip to L.A. “Vesty” comes off every night after her last outing, even though she’s not nearly as itchy as she used to be when the metal tags would rattle in the middle of the night. We can thank the steroids for giving her some peace, although she still does some serious paw licking on occasion. The Prednisone doses we give her each morning and night, embedded in cheese slices, also have controlled her arthritis. On the negative side, it makes her aggressively hungry, so we call her “The Poopingest Pup on the Planet,” once input leads to output. She also has developed some ugly growths on her skin that Tally likes to playfully lick that leads to irritation. Fortunately, they are non-malignant -just gross. Tinker continues to move slowly, cautious of steps because of her cataracts, and no longer insistent that we lift her up on the couch or bed. It probably hurts too much when she tries to get down by herself. 

Tinker’s only motivation seems to be food. She lays around all day until she sees me headed for the kitchen. Her outings are limited to a short loop after barely making it to the bottom of the driveway for a poop and another few steps to the grass for a pee. Tally continues to persist in stretching each outing to the maximum, while Tinker heads back to the garage to wait for us. Sometimes she gets impatient, just as I do with Tally’s lack of focus, and starts to bark. Barking has become more frequent when Tinker fails to get what she wants, but it no longer includes annoying us for “elevator rides” to the couch or bed. She also has an occasional “poopsident” that has yet to become a serious problem. Sometimes I wonder if it’s Tally, but I think most of the blame goes to “The Poopingest Pup.”

Tinker continues to get a lot of attention when she’s in the stroller, as was the case this morning. She did bark and stand-up, saving us from a messy clean-up, so we’re always glad to let her out to do her business. The stroller is equipped with Wet-Wipes, just in case. As I write this final paragraph, my wife is fixing breakfast, and Tinker is barking at me and heavily panting in anticipation of a few shard bites. There’s a “Bark Shark” lurking below my desk, waiting to strike. She can smell the bacon in the air, and I certainly won’t be able to resist her pleas. Tally does not beg like she does, but I blame some of it on the steroids. I just want to make Tinker happy in what is probably her final year of life. I wonder how many more “Schnauzerthons” she has left in her?

I guess some sharks do bark like a dog and I’m surprised that no one has written a children’s book. I’m on it – but first stay tuned for a poem. It will be along the same silly lines as PigWhalea. (See Post #453). “Bark Shark” – coming soon to this blog.