The Chronicles of Hermione Granger Reed

This blog is devoted to my puppy dog Hermione, chronicling all developments in her life, humorous, trying and otherwise.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

My Dog Has A.D.D.

A chronicle of my morning with Hermione thus far:

She woke me up at about 5:30 with the stretch/bed creep that is her patented move. It begins as a stretch (and Hermione, because of her reputed Italian Greyhound blood, has a very long body, so long it has given rise to the nickname "Neville Longbody"), but a stretch cleverly directed towards the top of the bed, leaving her, post-stretch, closer to the always-enticing pillows. Today, however, Mission Stretch/Creep was regularly interrupted by scratching. Now, at the time I read this scratching as the last vestige of mange, a reading I have since reconsidered based on later information. Read on.

After Hermione jumped out of bed, her sign that she is ready to greet the world (or at least has desperately to pee), we headed downstairs, where she began her day as she almost always does: by finding her favorite toy (a leopard print fabric bone, with a sqeaker inside). She squeaks on the toy, looks at me expectantly, and I rebuff the request for play by reminding her (by picking up her food bowl) that it's breakfast time, and that she loves food more than play (most of the time). So this morning went like other mornings--until, that is, I gave her her food.

Now, as you might have guessed, I'm a rather indulgent dog mommy. Not in terms of discipline--Hermione is a well-behaved pup--but in terms of the luxuries of doggie life. Exhibit A: Hermione's breakfast always includes something freshly cooked, cut up and mixed in with her kibble. Normally this is a fried egg, but since we are out of fried eggs, and I'm too behind on my work to drive to the grocery store, today it was a piece of bacon (since I had to buy bacon for a recipe I made for a dinner party and am trying to burn it off to prevent my own indulgence in the taste sensation that is pork, salt, and fat). So I fried a piece of bacon, cut it up, and mixed it in with her kibble, fending off a leaping puppy the entire time, enticed as she was by the smell. You would think, then, that when I deposited her food bowl in its normal place, and instructed her to eat with the clearly uttered command "Food," she would throw herself into this process with abandon, becoming oblivious to all that surrounds her as she indulges in the smokey taste of a bacon-kibble casserole. You would be wrong.

Instead, her breakfast tiime went something like this:

Eat delicious bacony kibble

Get Leopard Bone from dining room rug and depart

Return to dining room rug with Isaac Mizrahi Plastic Toy Rain Boot

Eat delicious bacony kibble

Get Isaac Mizrahi Plastic Toy Rain Boot and depart

Return to dining room rug with Pink Flamingo

Eat delicious bacony kibble

Get Pink Flamingo and depart

Smell delicious bacony kibble (on command from mommy to "Food") and scorn it.

Force, through such strange behavior, mommy to get out of her chair (and leave her precious coffee) and follow me, having convinced mommy that I am shitting somewhere in the living room (ugh)

Happily surpirse mommy with lack of poop, but then wig her out when she discovers a very neat pile composed of the Leopard Bone, Isaac Mizrahi Plastic Toy Rain Boot, and Pink Flamingo right in the center of the TV room (see photo).

I have absolutely no idea what such behavior means, but have dealt with my initial wiggins by refusing the horror-movie ideology whereby the strange stacking of objects is a sign either that one is a ghost or that one is insane. There is no reason why good organization should take such a bad rap, and so I've decided instead to see this in a positive light (as is, as I've said before, my wont as a doggie mommy). Perhaps Hermione is just taking inventory, or engaged in a bit of spring cleaning. Or perhaps this is the dog version of the Freudian fort-da, and she is thus learning to manage the trauma of my departures. Or perhaps, as my title suggests, she just has A.D.D., and so can't keep focused on any one thing at any one time. Since I have A.D.D. (just recently diagnosed, in fact), but have managed to soldier on and get a Ph.D. and become a professor, I think this bodes only well for my mangy pup. In the meantime, I will simply appreciate the good sense of my dog, who has managed to do my chore of organizing her toys for me. It just remains for me to go pick up the pair of my nylons she discovered while I was composing this post, and which she has since deposited on the dining room rug, after, that is, tearing through the house (and through them) with them in her mouth.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Happy Fun Time!

After many rather depressing posts to this blog, I am going to dedicate this post to happy fun time. In other words, I'll be dedicating this post to one of Hermione's favorite places: the dog park. Before getting into the dog park, though, I'll give a brief update: Hermione's mange seems to be under control, with her scratching almost entirely gone (and this with two of the three treatments still to go!). She had a small eye infection on Friday that is healing quickly, but otherwise is almost back to perfect health. So she looks good (having had a bath yesterday), feels good, and has reclaimed her title as Cutest Pup In All The Land (as if she could ever really lose it. I mean, just look at her!). Her mom, however, has been a deliquent blogger because of a debilitating case of strep throat, though is--happily--also on the mend. Soon enough mom and pup will both be back to 100% and will resume their habit of spreading puppy dog cuteness far and wide.

And one of the ways we spread this cuteness is by going to the dog park. Now, the small midwestern town that we call home is lacking in certain amenities (good grocery stores with organic meat; a large selection of decent restaurants; any store selling clothing for professional women), but it does have one of the best dog parks anywhere. It's a 10-acre park with varying terrain and a special spot just for small dogs. Hermione loves it. There is so much to smell, so many dogs to meet, so much room to run! And Hermione is always a hit whenever we go. Not only is she just an adorable, friendly, well-tempered dog, but she always shows off her acrobatic skills, making all the other owners marvel and wonder at her agility (okay, maybe not, but this is what I think they think, and I'm not *totally* wrong: at least once every visit someone asks me if Hermione has had agility training because she is such a nimble little pup). What skills, you might ask? Well, apart from smelling the rear ends of other dogs, or wading through muddy puddles, Hermione loves to run up to me and, just as she's about to reach me, leap into the air (see photo of Hermione, mid-leap). My job, of course, is to catch her. It took me awhile to get the timing down, making for some rather dorky dog part moments (FYI: the person in the photo isn't me, but is the only other person who can catch Hermione when she jumps). After I catch her, I throw her up into the air several times, making for full airborne pup. Hermione can't get enough, as evidenced by the fact that she will repeat this routine until I insist that she go spend time with the other doggies.

I find this game utterly entertaining. The other dog owners find it charming, strange, funny, weird, depending on how cool or lame they are. Rest assured there are no other dogs in the dog park who leap into their owners arms and then look forward to being tossed in the air. Or, if there are, there are no other owners willing to engage in such kind of play. And so Hermione manages to stand out, mainly because she is so capable of leaping up (and because she's found an owner who does indeed treat her dog as if she were a small child).

Now, in the spirit of full disclosure, I should say that she might also stand out because she is the most submissive dog ever (I will post at another time about the rare exceptions to this rule). She will turn over on her back for pretty much any dog and for pretty much any reason. That's right: Hermione is a bit of a dog park floozy, satisfying the domination needs of all the town's pups. I choose to see her willingness, indeed even eagerness, to submit as a sign that she is a generous, kind-hearted dog, out to make all the puppies have a good time. She is, for example, the consummate hostess, always wanting to greet all the dogs as they come into the park. That being a good hostess might shade into being, ahem, a good hostess (wink-wink, nudge-nudge) is a semantic grey-area I choose to ignore, which is my right as a doggy mom. I'm going to focus instead on Hermione-As-Agility-Pup, defined not by her willingness to be on her back, but by her pure happiness at being tossed in the air.

Saturday, April 01, 2006


Hermione's ear scratching has finally been definitively diagnosed. She has sarcoptic mange, also known as scabies. What this means is that a tiny little parastie, scientifically known as the notoedres mite (see illustration) has burrowed under her skin and set up shop. The Vets missed it initially because most mangy pets have a lot of hair loss (I'm presuming from the scratching), and Hermione has only a tiny bald spot on her right ear. But Dr. Dust, super-Vet that he is, was determined to solve the mystery of her scratching, and so found the notoedres mite itself under her skin: definitive proof that she is a mangy mutt. He suspects (and, as Debbie will confirm [since she saw the condition of the "rescue" from which I rescued Hermione], he's so totally right) that she's had this since I adopted her: it takes awhile for the symptoms to begin to show, and mange is the kind of ailment that dogs who live in close quarters with other dogs tend to have. But after she completes her treatment (which just involves putting a topical ointment on her every two weeks for six weeks total), Dr. Dust predicts a full recovery!

That's the good news. The bad news is that the treatment takes up to a month to work, and can, in fact, make her itchiness worse before it gets better. Why? The medicine works by killing the mites, and the proteins in their decomposing bodies (ick) aggrivate the itchiness. Unfortunately, there's not much I can do to allay the itch. With one exception: a lyme sulfur dip. So you can stop the itching only if you are willing to deal with the overpowering rotten-egg smell of sulfur. That's a tough call. We'll see what becomes more valuable to me: sleep or preserving my nose from such an assault.

With all the technical stuff out of the way, it just remains for me to say that this diagnosis is hilarious. My dog has mange! That's too funny. Even funnier? So do I. Mange is communicable to humans, though it doesn't seem to result in full scabies (where the mites start reproducing and spreading). Instead, the mites burrow under your skin and then just fade away, but it has left me with a bunch of red bumps over my arms that get somewhat itchy when I'm warm. Funnier still? On Thursday, when the red bumps were particularly inflamed on my right elbow, I drove up to Chicago in order to attend a reception for those admitted to Harvard Law School. That's right. I went to a Harvard Law School reception, held at the very swanky W Hotel in downtown Chicago, full of successful, well-off Harvard Law School alums dressed in their corporate finery, with mange. The grew-up-poor, lived-in-a-trailer-park, huge-chip-on-my-shoulder part of me thinks that, in the history of class warfare, this might be the best--or at least the most hilarious--campaign yet waged. Shake my mangy, mangy hand corporate lawyer, and do it with a "We Hope You Come To Harvard" smile on your face.