Our 11 year-old hip-less wonder dog is not spoiled at all. She has only one toy. It is an open rubber sphere that contains a latex toy with a squeaker. The sphere lasts ten years then we need another. For a year it’s been a latex gorilla with squeaker that I laced into the toy. She loves it.

If we gave Zoe the latex toy with squeaker she’d have decimated the toy and squeaker in about thirty seconds. It’s the same with stuffed animals. Get the squeaker, tear it apart, leave batting all around and “mom” gets to clean up.

Aside from vets et al we are pretty self-sufficient on the dog front. Our dog has been with us for 11 years, adopted at just six weeks of age and we had to have her hips excised at six and nine months of age because she had the worst x-rays any vet had ever seen. She grew her own and has been happy and healthy ever since, even acing her first senior blood panel last year.

Our guest bath has a garden sprayer, 10′ garden hose and fixture that allows shower water to be put into the hose and not the spigot, but does not inhibit water flow for human showers when turned off. I place a mat in the tub. Zoe wants to be clean so goes right in. Ok, I have to lift her but she wants this.

I have already lined the floors with dog towels and have extra after she shakes off water and I have to dry her. I believe the entire mechanism cost under $40. Zoe is an Aussie mutt and doesn’t need breed-specific grooming, just wash and wear. My husband is allergic to her dander, however, so I have to do this every two weeks. I dry her off, take her out, clean the bathroom and wash her towels.

She eats frozen raw food and I keep her with some of the same brand for dry in case of a road trip, to make sure her tummy is OK with it. It was the only thing she would eat as a pup after I tried everything in a specialty store so, we stuck with it and there are still caretakers who will not abide by my wishes in regard to frozen raw food. I will not change my dog’s routine so a caretaker can impose his/her will on her for a weekend and make her sick on trash food. That’s why we now have sleep-over caretakers and don’t take her to other places.

She loves her in-home caretakers. Once she dragged me down the street after this guy, who turned out to be a live-in caretaker from a year before. I didn’t recognize him 100′ ahead of us walking away, but she surely did and he greeted her warmly and does so today.

We’ll lead a quiet life until the squirrels come out from their apartments in the trees. Don’t worry, she is on a leash and will never get one. She sleeps like I would wish, to dream. When awake, she is happy all the time. She is a presence, perhaps sent to me by fate or other means, and when she took that tortilla last night my husband accidentally dropped on the floor all we could do was laugh.

Similar to the mustache incident years ago. Brunch, guests. Puff pastry. She got a croissant and passed us at the dinner table in order to get to her sacred place to eat it. She had it in her mouth like a mustache. We were all laughing so hard there was no way to reprimand her. She showed she’d grown her own hips and could now get up to the stove. Here’s to bravery, silliness and strength. And a favorite dog. Dee



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